CINCINNATI, OH- With the exception of a thrilling win in January, Heritage Bank Center was not a friendly place for the Wheeling Nailers in 2022-23, as they closed out their season series with the Cincinnati Cyclones on Sunday afternoon. Wheeling built a 3-2 lead in the third period on Tanner Laderoute's first career goal, but the Cyclones rallied back with two goals in the final ten minutes, including Adam Berg's second of the afternoon, as Cincinnati was victorious, 4-3 on home ice.
Wheeling held a 10-7 advantage in shots on goal during the first period, but found itself trailing at the intermission. The Cyclones opened the scoring in the first minute of play for the second straight day. Justin Vaive slid a pass out to Zack Berzolla, who stepped into a slap shot from the right point, and drove his shot into the top-left corner of the net. The Nailers battled back to tie the score with a great individual effort, as Gianluca sped around his defender on the right side, then forced his way to the slot, where he got knocked down, but still managed to chip a shot into the left side of the twine. Cincinnati retook the lead with 2:49 left, moments after a successful penalty kill by the Nailers. Adam Berg took advantage of traffic in the slot, as he directed a shot in from the right wall. The puck found a gap and ended up going in for the 2-1 score.
The Nailers made a great push to draw even in the middle frame, and they were eventually rewarded for their efforts, as they picked up the equalizer on a power play with 1:31 left on the clock. Wheeling was putting all sorts of pressure on with the man advantage, and it was Cédric Desruisseaux who cashed in, as he roofed a wrist shot from the left circle into the top-left corner of the cage.
The momentum carried into the early stages of the third period, as Wheeling took its first lead of the day. Brooklyn Kalmikov steered a shot on goal that was stopped by Beck Warm, but the rebound squirted out to the right side, where Tanner Laderoute popped in the first goal of his pro career. The Nailers received a power play after the marker, but were unable to capitalize, and 52 seconds after the minor, the Cyclones pulled even. Louie Caporusso's shot hit off of Zack Andrusiak on the left side of the crease. Andrusiak got the puck down to his stick and tapped in a backhander. Then, with 3:59 to go, Cincinnati snapped the deadlock, when Berg hammered Lee Lapid's one-time feed into the right side of the net. That put the Cyclones up 4-3, which turned out to be the final score.
Beck Warm got the win for Cincinnati, as he made 27 saves on 30 shots. Brad Barone suffered the defeat for Wheeling, despite tossing aside 21 of the 25 shots he faced.
The Nailers will play their last two home games of the season next weekend. Friday night is a Frosty Friday and a 7:10 face-off against the Iowa Heartlanders. Then, Saturday is Fan Appreciation Night, which includes thousands of dollars worth of prizes, as well as jerseys off the players' backs, following the 7:10 contest against the Fort Wayne Komets. Tickets are available 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.