WHEELING, WV- Friday night's game was all about the goaltenders, so Saturday night, it was time for the offenses to flip the script, as the Wheeling Nailers faced the Reading Royals at WesBanco Arena. Wheeling took the lead on four different occasions, and the final lead held up, as Jordan Frasca scored with 6:36 to go, giving the Nailers the 6-5 home triumph. Peter Laviolette netted his first career two-goal performance, while T.J. Fergus had a four-point night on his birthday.
The Royals got the first goal just 67 seconds into the match, but the remainder of the opening stanza belonged to Wheeling. That beginning strike came from Evan Barratt, who finished off a pass from Charlie Gerard with a tap-in on the left side of the crease. Matt Koopman collided with Bailey Brkin, which led to a fight between Koopman and Mason Millman, and that sparked the Nailers. 14 seconds after that happened, the home team struck shorthanded, as Tyler Drevitch fed Gianluca Esteves for a one-time dart from the low slot. Wheeling killed off the rest of its penalty, then utilized the momentum to take the lead 1:27 after the tying tally. Tanner Laderoute made a gorgeous move as he entered the offensive zone, then slipped a pass over to Cédric Desruisseaux, who slammed in his shot from the left side of the slot to give Laderoute his first pro point. Another picturesque pass gave the Nailers a third goal in the period. Jarrett Lee sauced a pass into the slot for Peter Laviolette, who touched a shot through Bailey Brkin's legs.
The red light continued to shine at an enormous rate in the middle frame, as the two squads combined for six goals and a 5-5 score. Reading battled back to even the score the first time with two tallies in a span of 1:56. Colin Felix stepped up from the right point to slam in a centering pass from Alec Butcher, then Shane Sellar capitalized on a scrambly play for a goal from the left side of the crease. 34 seconds after that, Laviolette put Wheeling back on top, as he roofed a backhander into the top-left corner of the cage. Brad Barone made a phenomenal save to deny Mason Millman a few minutes later, but Charlie Gerard fished out the rebound and lifted it up and in to make the score 4-4. Next on the board was T.J. Fergus, who celebrated his 26th birthday by throwing a wrist shot in and out of the top-right pocket of the twine. However, with ten seconds left, the score was deadlocked again, as Barratt kept the puck to himself on a 2-on-1 rush and lifted a shot into the top-left corner.
After all of the offense in the first two frames, the game came down to the lone goal in the third. That went to the Nailers with 6:36 remaining. Jordan Frasca wound his way through the slot and into the left circle, where he turned and rifled a wrist shot up and into the top-left corner. Wheeling made sure to carry that into the win column for the 6-5 final.
Brad Barone picked up the victory for the Nailers, as he turned aside 21 of the 26 shots he faced. Bailey Brkin suffered the defeat for the Royals, as he made 23 saves on 29 shots.
The Nailers and Royals will clash again on Sunday afternoon at 4:10. After the game, fans will have the opportunity to skate with the entire team. 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.