WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers were in terrific shape for the first 50 minutes of Sunday afternoon's game against the Norfolk Admirals at WesBanco Arena. However, the final ten minutes were the exact opposite. The Norfolk Admirals scored four unanswered goals, as they collected a 6-5 comeback victory. Todd Burgess started and ended the comeback from Norfolk, who also got two goals from Brian Bowen. Tyler Drevitch put two pucks into the back of the net for the Nailers, giving him nine in the month of February, while Justin Addamo returned from the AHL with three assists.
Both teams had their shining moments in the first period, as the Nailers controlled the opening half with the first strike, while Norfolk had the better back half, which came with an equalizer. Wheeling got its marker off of a face-off win by Justin Addamo, who dropped the puck back to David Drake at the left point. Drake let a wrist shot go that had eyes, as it sailed into the right side of the goal. The Admirals converted on a power play to tie things up. Eric Williams stole a clearing attempt and immediately directed a shot on goal from the right point. The save was made, but the rebound kicked straight to Danny Katic, who deposited it back home.
After getting outshot 15-10 in the first frame, the Nailers controlled the play in period two, as they had a 13-7 shots advantage, which led to three pucks turning on the red light. Cédric Desruisseaux needed just 36 seconds to give his team the lead, as he rang a wrist shot in off of the crossbar to start the stanza. Norfolk pulled even at the 10:51 mark, as Brian Bowen backed up off of the crease, but put enough force on his shot to send the puck into the right side of the cage. Wheeling wiped that tie off the board in a matter of 44 seconds, as Brooklyn Kalmikov found Tyler Drevitch at the left face-off dot, where Drevitch whistled a wrist shot into the right side of the net. With 2:12 remaining, the Nailers grabbed a two-goal lead. T.J. Fergus created the play by taking the puck deep below the dots. Kalmikov then rolled the puck along the goal line, where it was smashed in by Drevitch.
Kalmikov finished off an odd-man rush by roofing in a one-time feed from Justin Addamo to put Wheeling ahead 5-2 at the 9:44 mark of the third. A few moments later, the Admirals called a timeout, Nico Blachman left the game, and the script got completely flipped. Todd Burgess ramped Dean Yakura's shot up into the top-right corner of the twine at 10:51, as Norfolk began its comeback. With 3:57 left, things really started to go south, as Bowen spun a pass from Carson Musser into the left side of the net to bring the Admirals within one. 36 seconds later, Darren McCormick knotted the score, as he fluttered in a backhander from the left circle. 24 seconds after that, Darick Louis-Jean's point shot bounced off of Burgess and floated in, as Norfolk completely erased its 5-2 deficit and took a 6-5 lead. The Nailers were unable to shake off the gut punch, as they suffered the regulation loss.
Tomas Vomacka got the win for the Admirals, as he made 30 saves on 35 shots. Tommy Nappier was the losing goaltender for Wheeling, as he gave up six goals on 32 shots, and was pulled after the sixth goal. Brad Barone didn't face any shots in relief.
The Nailers will head out on the road for three games next weekend. They will visit the Indy Fuel on Friday at 7:00, then the Fort Wayne Komets on Saturday at 7:30, and finally the Toledo Walleye on Sunday at 5:15. Wheeling will play a pair of home games the following week. Education Day returns on Wednesday, March 8th at 10:45 a.m. against Toledo, and that game is sold out. Saturday, March 11th is Country Night at 7:10 against Fort Wayne, which features a live post game concert by Jonathan Moody. 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.