WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers faced an early deficit on Wednesday morning, and were unable to come back, as they took on a Toledo Walleye team that has been playing its best hockey over the past two months. Conlan Keenan scored 35 seconds into the tilt, and ultimately netted a hat trick for the Walleye, who earned their 14th consecutive victory, 4-1, in front of a sellout crowd of 5,167 fans on Education Day at WesBanco Arena.
All in all, the Nailers turned in a solid performance in the first period, but a pair of mistakes left them trailing 2-1 at the intermission. Toledo got on the board just 35 seconds into the contest. Drew Worrad skated onto a loose puck on the right side of the ice, and fed Conlan Keenan, who chipped in a shot from the left side of the crease. Keenan got his second of the day at the 15:38 mark. Kirill Tyutyayev made a centering pass to Keenan, who crushed a one-timer into the top-right corner of the cage. Wheeling was able to respond 13 seconds later. Brooklyn Kalmikov navigated his way into the left circle, where he zipped a shot in along the ice.
One puck found the back of the net in the middle frame, as the Walleye were successful on the power play. Gordi Myer played the puck to Brandon Hawkins, who stepped up into the right circle, and sifted in a low wrist shot.
Keenan completed his hat trick with an empty netter in the third period to put the finishing touches on Toledo's 4-1 triumph. After putting 15 shots on goal in the first period, the Nailers were limited to 11 over the course of the final two frames.
John Lethemon earned his 13th straight win in goal for Toledo, as he denied 25 of the 26 shots he faced. Tommy Nappier suffered the defeat for Wheeling, as he came away with 18 saves on 21 shots.
The Nailers will face the Fort Wayne Komets this weekend in a home-and-home series. The set will begin at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum on Friday at 8:00. The two teams will then travel to WesBanco Arena for Saturday's 7:10 re-match. Saturday is Country Night, as the Nailers will be wearing specialty jerseys, and there will be 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.