FORT WAYNE, IN- The Wheeling Nailers were less than four minutes from earning at least one point in a key match-up against the Fort Wayne Komets on Saturday night at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. However, with 3:52 left in the contest, Garrett Van Wyhe's second goal of the game gave the Komets their only lead of the night, as they skated away with a 4-3 win on home ice. Wheeling had three separate leads in the game, courtesy of tallies by Cédric Desruisseaux, Sean Josling, and Jordan Frasca.
Both offenses came ready to play in the first period, as the two sides each put a pair of goals on the scoreboard. Wheeling was the only team to hold a lead, which it did twice, starting at the 4:37 mark. Luke Santerno's right point shot off the glass set off some chaos, as the puck ended up hopping into the slot, where Cédric Desruisseaux swatted a backhander into the bottom left side of the net. The Komets pulled even just after the midway mark of the stanza. Garrett Van Whye blocked a shot at his own blueline, and created a breakaway for himself, as he faked from forehand to backhand, and sifted the puck through Brad Barone's legs. The Nailers regained their lead on a power play less than two minutes later. Samuel Tremblay won a battle for possession along the wall to Brooklyn Kalmikov, who set up Sean Josling, who sniped a wrist shot into the top-right corner from the inner edge of the right circle. Blake Siebenaler tied the score with 2:04 to go, when he took advantage of traffic and squeezed in a shot from the left point.
Wheeling got a couple of great chances to pull ahead in the early stages of period two. Peter Laviolette was disturbed on a breakaway at the 4:39 mark, as he earned a penalty shot. On the attempt, Laviolette attempted to send a wrist shot through Ryan Fanti's legs, but the Fort Wayne goalie was able to get his stick on the shot. The Nailers did cash in to take the lead with a 4-on-4 tally. Jordan Frasca stormed into the left circle, then picked his spot, as he roofed a wrist shot into the top-right corner of the cage.
The goal of the third period was to get the game to the finish line, but the Komets provided a detour in a matter of 25 seconds. Matt Alvaro scooped up a loose puck behind the goal, and stuffed a backhander inside the left post. The tilt stayed tied until the final four minutes, when Fort Wayne took its first lead of the night. Daniel Maggio's shot from the left wall got denied, but the rebound hopped out to Van Wyhe, who deposited the deciding marker into the right side of the goal with 3:52 left, as the Komets were victorious, 4-3.
Ryan Fanti got the win for Fort Wayne, as he made 24 saves on 27 shots. Brad Barone stopped 31 of the 35 shots he faced in the defeat for Wheeling.
The Nailers will conclude their three-game road weekend on Sunday, when they visit the Toledo Walleye at 5:15. Wheeling will play a pair of home games next 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.