KALAMAZOO, MI- Friday's game between the Wheeling Nailers and Kalamazoo Wings was close for two periods, before the Nailers took complete control. Wheeling exploded for five goals in the third period to earn a 7-2 victory at Wings Event Center. Evan Vierling's first pro goal snapped the 2-2 tie, Félix Paré was the lone player with two goals, and Cédric Desruisseaux racked up four points, while Taylor Gauthier made 31 saves.
The Nailers had a terrific start for the second game in a row, but a pair of unlucky bounces put themselves behind at the end of the first period. Wheeling opened the scoring just 1:18 into the contest. Cédric Desruisseaux centered a feed to Justin Addamo in the low slot, where Addamo slammed a shot through Jonathan Lemieux's legs. The Wings pulled even at the 8:21 mark. Brad Morrison waited patiently in the trapezoid, before delivering the puck to the front of the goal, where it bounced off of a Nailer and dribbled in over the line. Kalamazoo then took the lead less than four minutes later. Michael Joyaux's initial shot created a scramble around the crease, and the rebound chance was eventually squeezed in from the right side by Josh Passolt.
The middle frame featured a wild turn of events, as Wheeling faced a two-man disadvantage for 1:57. However, the Nailers killed the whole thing, and immediately turned the penalties into a tying tally. Tanner Laderoute lobbed a pass ahead to Jordan Frasca, who was the first player to leave the sin bin. He carried the puck in on the left side, then delivered a feed to Desruisseaux, who drilled a one-timer into the right side of the net, moments after he exited the box as well.
Wheeling thoroughly dominated the third period with five goals to turn the 2-2 deadlock into a 7-2 triumph. The tied score got snapped at the 2:35 mark. Evan Vierling blocked a shot and created a breakaway for himself, which he converted by slipping a backhander through Lemieux's legs. 1:18 later, Félix Paré doubled the lead for the Nailers, when he redirected Desruisseaux's long distance shot in from the slot. Another tip followed that at the 9:05 mark, as David Jankowski used his stick as a ramp to send Louie Roehl's wrist shot from ice level into the top-right corner. Next up was Paré's second of the stanza, as he smashed in the rebound of Matt Koopman's one-timer from the left circle. Koopman provided the final exclamation point, when he rolled a shot in off of the netminder's back, which also gave Desruisseaux his fourth point of the contest.
Taylor Gauthier backstopped his second straight win for Wheeling, as he denied 31 of the 33 shots he faced, including all 21 in the final two periods. Jonathan Lemieux received his first pro loss, as the Nailers beat him seven times on 23 shots.
The Nailers will wrap up their season-opening road trip on Saturday at 7:35, when they visit Fort Wayne. Wheeling will play its home opener against Reading next Saturday, November 4th at 7:10. Opening Night will feature Mad Chad Taylor - the chainsaw juggler, as well as a magnetic schedule giveaway, and the debut of Nail Ale by Big Timber Brewing. Season memberships and other terrific ticket plans for the 2023-24 season are available now by calling (304) 234-GOAL. The Wheeling Nailers, considered one of the top things to do in Wheeling, West Virginia, provide affordable family