FORT WAYNE, IN- The Wheeling Nailers played one of their wildest games of the early season on Friday night, as they erased a multi-goal deficit for the first time, while finding the back of the net six times. Wheeling trailed 5-3 with less than six minutes to go, but stormed back with three goals, including Adam Smith's overtime winner to knock off the Fort Wayne Komets, 6-5 at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. Justin Addamo had himself a night to remember, as he netted his first professional hat trick as part of a four-point performance.
Both teams played strong defensive first periods, but with less than 30 seconds remaining, the Nailers broke through for the opening goal. Davis Bunz tossed a shot toward the net from the right wing wall, which was tipped into the cage by Gianluca Esteves. The goal was Esteves' first in a Wheeling uniform, as he returned to the lineup after missing 11 straight games.
Fort Wayne drew even on a couple of occasions in the middle frame. The first equalizer came at the 6:43 mark, when Oliver Cooper tucked a backhand wraparound just inside of the left post. Wheeling retook the lead less than five minutes later. Félix Paré skipped the puck into the low slot for Justin Addamo, who used his long reach to his advantage, as he stretched a forehand shot around Rylan Parenteau's right leg pad. The score got tied with 2:12 left, when Joe Masonius swatted in a Daniel Maggio feed from the beneath the right circle.
After a somewhat casual 40 minutes, the offenses exploded in the third period for six goals on 28 shots. The Komets started with two quick strikes, as Shawn Boudrias drilled in a one-time feed from Cooper, then Joshua Winquist clobbered a slap shot from the top of the right circle. Chris Ortiz brought the Nailers within one for 19 seconds with his long distance wrister, before Boudrias answered with his second by pouncing on a loose puck. With less than six minutes to go, Wheeling put forth a fabulous rally to get the game to overtime. Louie Roehl notched his first professional point, as he set up Addamo for a wide open shot from the left side. Then, Addamo completed his hat trick with the tying marker, as he raced down the left side of the ice, and swept a shot underneath Rylan Parenteau.
The wild third period led to an overtime stanza which got decided in a matter of 3:12. Adam Smith got a step on his defender as he drove to the net, and flipped a shot in on the left side to give the Nailers the thrilling 6-5 triumph.
Taylor Gauthier picked up the win in goal for Wheeling, as he made 35 saves on 40 shots. Rylan Parenteau took the overtime loss for Fort Wayne, as he allowed six goals on 34 shots.
The Nailers and Komets will make the overnight drive to Wheeling, where the two sides will meet again on Saturday at 7:10. Saturday's game is Holiday Palooza, which will feature a small business holiday village, special ugly sweater jerseys, the annual Teddy Bear Toss, and holiday characters. 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.