WHEELING, WV- On a day which was highlighted by the number two, the Wheeling Nailers added their own story to the mix. Trailing by two with under six minutes to go against the Reading Royals, Justin Almeida scored two goals to close out regulation, then number 22 Patrick Watling lifted Wheeling in overtime, as the Nailers were victorious, 4-3, to earn their sixth consecutive triumph.
The game started with a back-and-forth first period. Reading netted the opening goal just 48 seconds into the match, as a pair of Royals forced a turnover in the left corner, leading to Garrett McFadden's open shot from the middle of the slot. The Nailers got a tying goal, courtesy of their power play, which got lots of work in the frame. Sean Josling shuffled the puck into the slot for Brandon Saigeon, who kicked it to his left, then tapped a shot into the open side of the twine. The Royals regained their lead with 2:04 remaining, as Anthony Gagnon deposited the rebound of McFadden's wrist shot from the right point.
Neither team scored in the middle frame, despite a 19-3 shots advantage for Wheeling. Midway through the third period, Reading added to its lead on the power play. Trevor Gooch centered the puck to Thomas Ebbing, who roofed a one-timer from the left side of the low slot. The Nailers faced a tall hill with a two-goal deficit, but a man advantage turned the momentum around. With 5:17 remaining, Justin Almeida closed the gap to one, when he squirted in a one-timer from the right circle. 2:13 later, Almeida turned on the red light again, when he tipped in Dominic Dockery's right point wrist shot.
Almeida's equalizer sent the game into overtime, which has been Wheeling's time to shine. Almeida drew an early penalty in the extra session, and the Nailers cashed in on the power play. Almeida tossed the puck toward the goal, where Sam Houde freed up a chance, which was lifted home by Patrick Watling for the game winner in the 4-3 final.
Brody Claeys backstopped his sixth straight win for Wheeling, as he made 13 saves on 16 shots. Hayden Hawkey suffered the shootout loss for the Royals, as he stopped 37 of the 41 shots he faced.
The Nailers and Royals will meet again on Wednesday at 7:10, as Wheeling continues its four-game home week. The Nailers will also play at WesBanco Arena on Friday and Saturday against the Kalamazoo Wings, with both contests starting at 7:10. Friday is a Frosty Friday, then Saturday is Mardi Gras Night, featuring 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.