WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers enjoyed a feast of goals on Wednesday night at WesBanco Arena, before carving into their Thanksgiving turkeys. Nick Hutchison scored a couple of goals against his former team, the Indy Fuel, while Patrick Watling and Will Reilly both posted three-point nights in the 5-1 Wheeling triumph. Alex D'Orio also turned in a big game with 34 saves.
The Nailers felt some pressure in the form of a 13-3 shots advantage for Indy in the opening period, but got a timely goal and solid netminding to take a 1-1 deadlock into the intermission. The Fuel did get on the scoreboard first at the 6:27 mark. Mike Lee sent a shot in from the left point, which hopped over to Riley McKay for a swat-in from the right side. Wheeling bounced back 59 seconds later. Will Reilly stepped up to center the puck out of the right corner to Patrick Watling, who tacked in a one-timer from the low slot.
Early in the middle frame, the Nailers took the lead off of a beautiful rush into the offensive zone. Sam Houde carried the puck down the right side, then dropped a pass off to Dylan MacPherson. The Wheeling captain stepped in to drive a slap shot into the top-left corner of the cage. The Nailers defense and penalty kill held strong for the remainder of the period to keep the home side ahead.
The offense opened the game up in the third period to take the victory to the finish line. One of the key moments in the stanza came at the 5:56 mark, when Wheeling connected for a shorthanded goal. Reilly let a shot go from the right point and got a perfect redirection from Nick Hutchison. Less than three minutes later, the Nailers struck again on a tally that originated from the blueline, as Chris Ortiz found the top-right corner of the twine from the top of the left circle. The tandem of Hutchison and Reilly connected once more with 9:14 left, as Hutchison lit the lamp with another tip-in for the 5-1 final.
Alex D'Orio played a huge role in backstopping the win for Wheeling, as he denied 34 of the 35 shots he faced, which included 26 saves in the first two periods, when the goal differential was one. Cale Morris took the loss for Indy, as he allowed five goals on 23 shots.
The Nailers will finish their Thanksgiving Week with a pair of road games against the Iowa Heartlanders on Friday and Saturday at 8:00. Wheeling will play two home games next weekend, as it will welcome the Cincinnati Cyclones to town at 7:10 on December 3rd for a Frosty Friday, followed by a 4:10 clash with the Indy Fuel on Sunday, December 5th. 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.