WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers threw everything they had at the Norfolk Admirals on Saturday night at WesBanco Arena, but goaltender Dylan Wells stole the game for the shorthanded Admirals. Wells made 20 saves during the third period and 38 in the game, as Norfolk edged Wheeling, 4-3, on a goal with 7:07 to go in the contest. Justin Almeida and Cam Hausinger both had a goal and an assist for the Nailers.
The first period saw the two teams go back-and-forth, and visiting Norfolk took a 2-1 lead into the intermission. The Admirals got on the board first, shortly after killing a penalty. Noah Corson and Mackenzie Dwyer led the way on a 2-on-1 break, before being joined by Ryan Cook, who swatted in a loose puck on the right side. Wheeling responded with an equalizer 2:37 later. Justin Almeida led Matt Alfaro into the left circle, where he sniped a shot into the right side of the cage. Norfolk regained its advantage with a power play marker. Blake Murray skated into the top of the left circle, and proceeded to roof a shot into the left side of the net.
The Nailers controlled a large part of the play in the middle frame, as they held a 9-3 advantage in shots and came away with a tying goal. Patrick Watling delivered a perfect pass off the pads from the left circle, which popped out to Cam Hausinger for the slam dunk. Wheeling's penalty kill was key in the closing minutes, as it denied back-to-back chances.
Early in the third period, the Nailers took their first lead of the night. Hausinger won a left circle face-off back to Almeida, who whipped a wrister into the top-right corner of the goal. Unfortunately, that lead was short-lived, as the Admirals answered 1:32 later. Aidan Brown used a Wheeling player as a screen, as he propelled a shot through from the outer edge of the left circle. With 7:07 left, Norfolk went back on top. Marly Quince broke over the blueline, and shoveled a shot into the top-right corner of the net. The Nailers got a late power play, and ultimately poured 21 shots on goal during the final stanza, but couldn't get a tying marker to go in, as they fell, 4-3.
Dylan Wells earned the win for the Admirals, as he stopped 38 of the 41 shots he faced, including 20 of 21 in the third period. Tommy Nappier took the loss for Wheeling, as he made 18 saves on 22 shots.
The Nailers will play three more home games in the coming week, starting on Wednesday night at 7:10, when they face the Reading Royals. Wheeling will then be home on Saturday at 7:10 against the Indy Fuel, in a game which will feature a gift exchange. Finally, the week will wrap up on Sunday, January 9th at 4:10 against the Kalamazoo Wings. Following that night's contest, there will be a skate with the odd-numbered players. Season memberships, single game tickets, and holiday 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.