WHEELING, WV- Patrick Watling has created some tremendous moments in his two seasons with the Wheeling Nailers, and on Sunday afternoon, he added to that list. Watling tied the game in the final second of the second period, then added two more goals in the third for his second hat trick with the club. Alex Stevens ultimately broke the tie with his first professional goal, as the Nailers rallied back from an early deficit to defeat the Indy Fuel, 5-2 at WesBanco Arena.
The Fuel struck first with a couple of special teams goals in the opening six minutes of play. The first tally came shorthanded, as Riley McKay dribbled a pass into the low slot for C.J. Eick, who faked to his backhand, which allowed him to elevate the puck and score. Indy's power play extended the lead 2:10 later, when Mike Lee's center point wrist shot found its way into the bottom-left corner of the cage.
The second period was a different story, as Wheeling rallied back to tie the contest in thrilling fashion. The home team got on the scoreboard at the 8:24 mark, when Félix Paré delivered a perfect pass across the slot to Tyler Drevitch, who slammed in a one-timer from the left side. Then, with the seconds ticking away, Nick Hutchison put what appeared to be one final shot on goal. However, Patrick Watling gloved down the rebound, and tucked in a backhand wraparound to beat the buzzer, as the clock read, "0.2."
The Nailers carried the momentum into the third period, and took their first lead of the day at the 1:55 mark. Alex Stevens took a slap shot from the right point, and got a fortunate bounce, as the puck deflected off of an Indy stick and went whistling over Mitch Gillam's glove. With 3:36 remaining, Wheeling tacked on a key insurance goal, while playing with a 4-on-3 power play. Nick Hutchison's shot got blocked to Watling, who slid his second of the game from the right circle. Watling finished off his stellar night in the final minute, tossing his hat trick goal into an empty net and giving the Nailers a 5-2 victory.
Alex D'Orio earned the win in goal for Wheeling, as he denied 24 of the 26 shots he faced, including all 20 sent his way in the second and third periods. Mitch Gillam made 28 saves in 32 shots, as he took the loss for the Fuel.
The Nailers will play their first 3-in-3 of the season next weekend. The weekend starts with a road game against the Toledo Walleye on Friday at 7:15. Then, Wheeling will return home for Military Appreciation Night, presented by the It's About the Warrior Foundation. That 7:10 clash with the Cincinnati Cyclones will feature specialty jerseys. The weekend will conclude on Sunday at 4:10 against the Fort Wayne Komets with Pajama Day and a post game skate. 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.