WHEELING, WV- Home-opening weekend was a huge success for the Wheeling Nailers, as they swept a two-game series against the Reading Royals to improve to 4-1-0. Jordan Frasca had career game for Wheeling on Sunday afternoon, as he scored a natural hat trick with three different types of goals (even strength, shorthanded, power play), and added an assist for a four-point day. Thimo Nickl netted his first pro goal in North America, while Dillon Hamaliuk potted his first goal as a Nailer to go along with two assists. Wheeling opened up a 4-1 lead in the first period, and never looked back in a 7-4 triumph at WesBanco Arena.
The Nailers came out surging, as they scored four times in the opening stanza. It only took 97 seconds for the home team to get on the board. Thimo Nickl let a shot go from the right point, which ramped off of goaltender Jacob Kucharski's stick and into the right side of the net. Reading briefly tied the game on a power play one-timer by Ryan Chyzowski from the middle of the blueline, before Wheeling grabbed the lead back a little more than six minutes later. Matthew Quercia pounced on a loose puck in the left circle, and dropped a pass off to Cédric Desruisseaux. October's ECHL Player of the Month slid a pass through the slot to Lukas Svejkovsky, who roofed a shot into the top-right corner. The Nailers extended their advantage 1:06 after that. Davis Bunz sent the puck toward the goal, where Jordan Frasca crashed in to deposit the rebound from the blue paint. Frasca added another one later in the period, when he stole the puck in his own end, then broke the other way, as he whipped in a shorthanded strike.
The goals continued to fly in during the middle frame. Frasca picked up right where he left off, as he completed his hat trick at the 56-second mark, when he sifted a wrist shot along the ice and in from the right circle. Less than four minutes later, Frasca started the play that led to the team's sixth red light of the afternoon. He delivered a pass to Tanner Laderoute, who had his right circle wrister blocked, but Dillon Hamaliuk darted in to tuck in the rebound. The Royals tallied twice in a span of 1:24 to pull within three, when Shane Sellar scooped a loose puck out of the crease and up under the crossbar, then Joseph Nardi spun and zipped in a wrist shot from the right side of the slot.
Both squads added one to their totals in the third period. Justin Addamo tapped in a centering pass from Svejkovsky, then Sellar tipped in Matt Brown's shot from the slot. Wheeling was victorious, 7-4.
David Tendeck secured his second straight win for the Nailers, as he denied 20 of the 24 shots he faced. Jacob Kucharski got pulled for Reading after allowing four goals on 14 shots. However, his replacement, Will Cranley, got saddled with the loss, as he made 18 saves on 21 shots in relief.
The Nailers will play three more home games next weekend, as they welcome the Idaho Steelheads to town on Friday and Saturday at 7:10 and Sunday at 4:10. Friday is a Frosty Friday featuring $2 beers, plus there will be a special guest appearance by former Nailers captain Shane Bakker. Saturday is Military Appreciation Night. Discounted tickets and free fountain beverages will be available for Military members, there will be an Oath of Enlistment, and the team will be wearing specialty jerseys. Finally, Sunday is a Screen Time Sunday, as one lucky fan will win a free TV, courtesy of Walmart. There will also be a post game skate with even-numbered players, plus $2 sundaes will be available for kids. The next Big Six game is Wheeling Wonderland on Saturday, December 9th. 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 entertainment for fans throughout the Ohio Valley.