WHEELING, WV- Friday night was a special one for former Nailers Head Coach Peter Laviolette and former Thunderbirds Captain Brock Woods, as they became the 11th and 12th members of the Wheeling Hockey Hall of Fame. However, Kalamazoo Wings goaltender Pavel Cajan stole the show during the game, as he made 35 saves, and was the beneficiary of a strange goal by Collin Saccoman in the third period of Kalamazoo's 2-1 win at WesBanco Arena. Chris Ortiz was the lone goal scorer for the Nailers.
The Nailers did a good job of controlling the play with a 14-7 shots advantage in the first period, however, they found themselves trailing 1-0 at the intermission. Kalamazoo netted its goal on the man advantage. Brad Morrison let a wrist shot go from the top of the left circle, and got a deflection from Justin Taylor to send the puck into the net.
Wheeling continued its strong efforts in the middle frame, and got rewarded with an equalizer in a matter of 2:51. Jarrett Lee carried the puck in on the right side of the offensive zone, then dropped a pass off to Chris Ortiz, who stepped up in the right circle and placed a shot into the left side of the cage.
The Wings got a bizarre goal at the 1:36 mark of the third period to retake the lead. Kobe Roth rang a shot off the left post, and the rebound sailed to the right wing boards. Tommy Nappier collided with a teammate, which left the majority of the net open. Collin Saccoman pounced on the opportunity and drove a shot into the cage. The Nailers had two power play chances to try to tie the contest, as well as multiple opportunties in the closing minutes, but they ran into a brick wall in the other crease, and came up short, 2-1.
Pavel Cajan was magnificent in goal for Kalamazoo, as he denied 35 of the 36 shots he faced in the victory. Tommy Nappier made 27 saves on 29 shots in the defeat for Wheeling.
The Nailers will continue their three-game homestand on Saturday night at 7:10, when they welcome the Reading Royals to town. Following the game, there will be a full team autograph session. Wheeling and Reading will also clash on Sunday afternoon at 4:10, and that will be followed by a full team post game skate with fans. 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.