KALAMAZOO, MI- An old saying will tell you that bad things happen in three's. For the Wheeling Nailers, that three is overtime. On Saturday night, the Nailers suffered their third consecutive overtime setback, as the Kalamazoo Wings came from behind with less than one minute to go, and defeated Wheeling, 3-2 at Wings Event Center. Carter Johnson netted both goals for the Nailers, giving him points in eight of his last ten contests.
There were some very high quality opportunities in the first period, which came as part of a ten-shot attack by the Nailers. However, the visitors faced a 1-0 deficit when the dust settled. The Wings scored on their first shot of the night, which came at the 6:42 mark. Ryan Cook took advantage of traffic set up by his teammates, as he drove a shot through a set of bodies and in from the right circle.
Wheeling completely controlled the play in the middle frame, as the Nailers outshot Kalamazoo, 16-2. One of those attempts found its way home to even the score. Jordan Frasca delivered a perfect pass to the top of the crease, where Carter Johnson crashed in and got a deflection to send the puck through goaltender Pavel Cajan's legs.
Early in the third period, Wheeling snagged its first lead of the contest. Davis Bunz made a tremendous rush in on the left side of the offensive zone, and eventually shuffled the puck over to the right side of the crease, where Johnson poked home his second goal of the night. The Nailers dodged a bullet a little more than eight minutes into the stanza, when a Matheson Iacopelli tally was wiped off the board due to goaltender interference by Leif Mattson. However, Wheeling was unable to dodge the next one, which came with 31 seconds left in regulation. Chad Nychuk fired a slap shot, which was heading wide to the left, but Justin Taylor's redirection led the puck to ramp up to the right and in under the crossbar to force overtime.
For the second straight contest, the Wings prevailed quickly in the extra session. Carson Focht forced a turnover in the right corner of the offensive end, then proceeded to dangle his way to the net, where he reached a forehand shot around Bailey Brkin's right pad for the deciding marker in a 3-2 Kalamazoo triumph.
Pavel Cajan collected the win in goal for the Wings, as he stopped 29 of the 31 shots he faced. Bailey Brkin earned a point for the seventh time in eight decisions as a Nailer, as he made 24 saves on 27 shots in the overtime defeat.
The Nailers will continue their road trip on Sunday afternoon at 3:00, when they tangle with the Indy Fuel at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Wheeling's next home game is a Frosty Friday on February 3rd, when the team welcomes the Iowa Heartlanders to town for a 7:10 face-off. Saturday, February 4th is also a 7:10 game against Iowa, and that will be the annual Pups & Pucks Game, when fans are invited to bring their dogs to the game. The next Big 6 Promotional Game is Pittsburgh Penguins Night on Saturday, February 11th at 7:10 against the Norfolk Admirals. The special guests for Pittsburgh Penguins Night are Tyler Kennedy, Jean-Sébastien Aubin, and François Leroux. Ticket packages 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.