READING, PA- Cam Hausinger had more than two points on the line on Saturday afternoon, as he was also playing for family bragging rights against his brother Kenny. Not only did Cam's Wheeling Nailers defeat Kenny's Reading Royals, but Cam played a big role in delivering the victory. His goal with 3:53 snapped a 3-3 deadlock, and he followed that up with an empty netter, as the Nailers earned their fifth straight win by beating Reading, 5-3 at Santander Arena.
With it being the first head-to-head meeting of the season, there was a lot of feeling out during the first period, which nearly resulted in a scoreless deadlock. However, with just 20 seconds remaining in the stanza, the Royals took advantage of a fortunate bounce to get onto the board. The puck bounced off of a few bodies in the low slot and deflected over to Trevor Gooch, who lifted in an open shot from the right side of the crease.
The middle frame began in similar fashion to the way the first one ended, as Reading scored just 21 seconds into the period. Patrick McNally wound his way through the bottom of the left circle, then touched a pass into the low slot, where a one-timer was pounded in by Frank DiChiara. At the 3:43 mark, the Nailers got their comeback going, thanks to some excellent work on special teams. Wheeling's first goal came on the power play, as Josh Maniscalco attempted a shot from the middle of the blueline. The puck ended up glancing to Sean Josling, who shoveled a backhander into the top-right corner. The penalty kill kept the momentum going in the right direction, as the Nailers killed off a double-minor, then followed that up with a tying tally just 37 seconds after the penalty expired. Adam Smith tossed a shot through from the left wing wall, which was tipped in by Tim Doherty. WIth 1:58 to go, Wheeling took the lead. Goaltender Hayden Hawkey was faced with heavy pressure from Jared Cockrell, which forced him to turn the puck over, and Patrick Watling took advantage, as he rifled in the go-ahead strike.
The Royals pulled even at the 3:50 mark of the third period, when Dominic Cormier finished off a rush with Brad Morrison by banging in a one-timer on the left side of the net. The score remained tied until the final four minutes of the contest, when Cam Hausinger broke through as the hero for the Nailers. With 3:53 left, Chris Ortiz entered the zone, and left the puck in the middle of the slot for Hausinger, who drilled a shot into the left side of the cage. Hausinger then added an exclamation point to the triumph, as he threw in an empty netter for the 5-3 final.
Brody Claeys earned his fifth straight win in goal for Wheeling, as he blocked away 21 of the 24 shots he faced. Hayden Hawkey suffered his first loss in eight decisions with Reading, as he made 19 saves on 23 shots.
The Nailers will play their next four games at home, in a span of five days. The homestand starts with a pair of contests against the Royals on Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:10, then concludes with matches against the Kalamazoo Wings on Friday and Saturday at 7:10. Friday's game is a Frosty Friday, then Saturday is Mardi Gras Night, which will feature a bead giveaway, in addition to a full team post game autograph session. The next big promotional night is Throwback Night on March 25th, starring Paul Bissonnette and Louis Dumont. 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.