CORALVILLE, IA- Saturday night at Xtream Arena was the Justin Almeida Show. The Wheeling Nailers forward lit the lamp four times, as the team earned a 4-2 road victory against the Iowa Heartlanders. The four-goal game was the 15th in Wheeling history, in addition to being the 100th hat trick in the team's 30 years in the Ohio Valley. Patrick Watling helped out by assisting on three of the goals, as he and Nick Hutchison both continued their point streaks.
The Nailers controlled the majority of the play in the first period, outshooting Iowa, 11-4. Both clubs came away with one goal. Wheeling struck first at the 7:02 mark. Chris Ortiz chopped the puck to the top of the right circle, where Justin Almeida turned a rocket of a slap shot into the top-left corner of the net. The Heartlanders responded with a couple of breakaways and scored the equalizer on the second one. Yuki Miura attempted to squeeze a shot through Stefanos Lekkas, who made the initial save, but his momentum carried the puck back in over the goal line.
Wheeling regained its lead with the lone marker of the middle frame, which came on the man advantage at the 13:43 mark. Patrick Watling stickhandled with the puck along the right wing wall, then slid a pass to Nick Hutchison along the goal line. The work on the right side allowed Almeida to jump up into the left circle and receive a perfect pass from Hutchison, which he buried into a wide open twine.
Almeida's magical night hit new heights in the third period. With 8:09 remaining, he completed his hat trick, as he took a drop pass from Watling and roofed a shot into the top of the goal. However, Almeida wasn't done yet, as less than three minutes later, he tallied his fourth of the tilt with another sizzler under the crossbar. Kris Bennett scored for the Heartlanders with 2:40 left, but the damage was done, as the Nailers were victorious, 4-2.
Stefanos Lekkas got the win in his Wheeling debut, as he made 13 saves on 15 shots. Hunter Jones took the loss for Iowa, as he allowed four goals on 22 shots.
The Nailers will return home on Friday night for a Frosty Friday against the Cincinnati Cyclones at 7:10. Wheeling also has a home game on Sunday, December 5th, which is Princesses & Pirates Day against the Indy Fuel at 4:10. The next Big 6 Promotional Night is Elf Night on Saturday, December 11th. Season memberships, mini plans, and single game tickets are available, and fans can get more information by calling (304) 234-GOAL. The Wheeling Nailers, considered one of the top things to do in Wheeling, West Virginia, provide affordable family entertainment for fans throughout the Ohio Valley.