TOLEDO, OH- The Wheeling Nailers hit a bump in the road on Friday night, as they opened their Central Division Final Series against the Toledo Walleye at Huntington Center. Toledo got rolling quickly with four goals in the first 22 minutes of play, and carried that effort to a 5-1 game one victory. Josh Maniscalco tallied the lone goal for the Nailers on a first period power play.
The first period was a challenging one for the Nailers, as Toledo capitalized on its chances and built a 3-1 lead. The first strike came just 1:09 into the contest, as Brandon Hawkins grabbed a pass from TJ Hensick in the right circle, then zipped in a low wrist shot. Wheeling answered 1:18 later on the man advantage. Tim Doherty gained entrance into the offensive zone, before giving off to Josh Maniscalco, who improved his angle in the left circle and tossed a shot inside the right post. The Walleye regained their lead with 7:11 to go. The puck was skipping around in the low slot and couldn't be covered nor cleared, which allowed Patrick Curry to pounce, as he chipped in the loose biscuit from the left side of the crease. Toledo turned on the light once more 2:37 later, when Gordi Myer flew down the right side of the ice, and sifted in a wrist shot from the bottom of the right circle.
The Walleye picked up where they left off when the middle frame got under way, as they added to their advantage. Matt Berry stole the puck at his own blueline and went on a breakaway. His backhander was denied, but the rebound got swept into the left circle, where Curry slammed his second of the evening into the right side of the cage.
Mitchell Weeks took over in goal for the Nailers after the fourth goal against, and did a great job of trying to keep his team within striking distance in his professional debut. Toledo was only able to solve him once, and that came courtesy of a Chris Martenet left point slap shot at 5:22 of the third, which gave the game its 5-1 final.
Billy Christopoulos got the win in goal for the Walleye, as he made 23 saves on 24 shots. Louis-Philip Guindon allowed four goals on nine shots in the defeat for Wheeling, before giving way to Mitchell Weeks, who turned away 20 of 21 shots in relief.
The Nailers and Walleye will play game two in Toledo on Saturday night at 7:35. The series will then shift to Wheeling for games three, four, and five (if necessary) on May 10th, 12th, and 14th. All home games will begin at 7:10. The Nailers want you to join #NailersArmy and get your playoff tickets now by visiting wheelingnailers.com or 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.