WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers gave their fans a lot to be excited about for the 2022-23 season, as they put forth a terrific performance in their preseason opener. Wheeling got goals from six different players, including Wheeling native Peter Laviolette III, and also got 39 saves from their two goaltenders to knock off the Fort Wayne Komets, 6-3 at WesBanco Arena.
The Nailers brought some good pace to the first period, and were able to open the scoring by utilizing their speed. Jason Horvath tossed a lead pass ahead to Griffin Lunn, who broke away from the defense, and sniped a shot into the top-right corner of the net. The opening stanza also featured a fight, as Peter Laviolette III stuck up for a teammate and threw down the gloves with Tristan Pelletier.
Laviolette showcased another aspect of his game in the middle frame, as he extended Wheeling's lead. While the Nailers were playing shorthanded, Peter broke up a play in the defensive zone, then poked the puck ahead to himself for a breakaway, which he converted, as he tucked a forehand shot through Rylan Toth's legs. Fort Wayne got on the scoreboard a few minutes later, when Aiden Jamieson threw in a wrist shot from the left point.
The start of the third period was all Wheeling. 38 seconds in, Cédric Desruisseaux pounced on a loose puck at the bottom of the right circle and immediately zipped a shot through a pile of bodies. 34 seconds later, Nick Fea delivered a perfect centering pass to Justin Addamo, who lifted a shot under the crossbar. 2:46 after that, Bobby Hampton joined the party, as he buried a cross-ice feed from David Drake at the left face-off dot. The Komets attempted to make things interesting, as they turned on the red light twice in 16 seconds on goals by Liam Van Loon and Louie Rowe, but Brooklyn Kalmikov iced the Nailers victory with a long distance empty netter for the 6-3 final.
Tommy Nappier and Ryan Bednard both turned in stellar performances in the Wheeling crease. Nappier stopped all 17 shots he faced in the start, then gave way to Bednard, who got the win with 22 saves on 25 shots. Owen Savory turned away ten of the 11 shots he faced for Fort Wayne, before Rylan Toth was beaten four times on 11 attempts.
The Nailers and Komets will wrap up their exhibition series on Sunday afternoon in Fort Wayne at 3:00. Wheeling will then open the regular season on Saturday, October 22nd against the Toledo Walleye at 7:10. The ZOOperstars will be performing their hilarious show that families are sure to enjoy throughout the night, with characters such as Squidney Crosby and Mario Lemule. Season memberships, Big 6 ticket plans, and single game tickets are available for the 2022-23 season by visiting wheelingnailers.com or 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.