ORLANDO, FL- It took a crazy ending and some extra work, but the Wheeling Nailers got the win they deserved on Sunday afternoon against the Orlando Solar Bears at Amway Center. Orlando scored twice in the final five minutes to force overtime, but in the extra session, Justin Almeida connected for his second of the day, as the Nailers defeated the Solar Bears, 4-3, to take two of three on the weekend.
The first period was filled with opportunities for both sides, but the lone goal came during the closing seconds, courtesy of the Nailers. Justin Almeida sent Félix Paré on a breakaway, just as Paré's minor penalty expired. Despite fanning on his initial try, Paré was able to quickly gather the puck and spin around with a forehand shot in from the right side of the crease.
Early in the middle frame, Orlando drew even, just as a power play came to its conclusion. Alexey Lipanov's left circle shot got stopped, but the rebound bounced out to Dylan Fitze, who chipped in the loose change. Midway through the period, Wheeling got its lead back. Chris Ortiz touched the puck up on the right side of the ice to Justin Almeida, who immediately let a wrist shot fly into the top-left corner of the net.
At the 2:44 mark of the third period, the Nailers extended their advantage with what turned out to be a big marker. Ortiz dangled around a defender and got enough power on his right circle wrister to send the puck off of Brad Barone's glove and in over the goal line. The rest of the stanza proved to be a challenge for Wheeling, as it was forced to kill four penalties, and that would have been five, if not for a goal during a delayed call. The Solar Bears capitalized on the circumstances to tie the tilt. Tristan Langan's first marker came from a wrist shot just above the right side of the goal line on the power play, then he potted the equalizer with a one-timer from the center point, sending the contest to overtime deadlocked, 3-3.
In the extra session, Wheeling got the lone power play and made sure to cash in. Justin Almeida walked the puck into the left circle, then rifled the game winner up and under the crossbar, giving the Nailers the 4-3 triumph and the win in the weekend series.
Stefanos Lekkas turned in another brilliant performance for Wheeling, as he earned the victory by stopping 37 of the 40 shots he faced. Brad Barone took the overtime loss for Orlando, as he made 22 saves on 26 shots.
The Nailers will return home for a three-game weekend on January 21st, 22nd, and 23rd. Friday is a Frosty Friday against Kalamazoo at 7:10, Saturday is First Responders Night against Iowa at 7:10, then Sunday will feature a post game skate with even-numbered players, following the 4:10 tilt against Iowa. Season memberships, single game tickets, and partial packages 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.