WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers battled through call-ups and injuries, and when the dust settled on Wednesday night, they collected two big points against the Central Division leading Toledo Walleye. Avery Winslow scored in his pro debut, David Jankowski lit the lamp twice, and Taylor Gauthier made 33 saves, as the Nailers earned a 4-2 victory at WesBanco Arena.
The first period featured some great back-and-forth hockey, as both teams scored once and not a single penalty was called. The Nailers were first on the board at the 9:39 mark. Avery Winslow hopped up to snag a loose puck, then went to work by creating a scoring chance with Tanner Laderoute and Jarrett Lee. Winslow ultimately got rewarded for his efforts, as he pounced on a rebound in the crease and shuffled in his first professional goal. Toledo tied the tilt with 1:17 remaining. Jake Willets dribbled a pass to Sam Craggs, who spun and whirled in a wrist shot from the top of the right circle.
Wheeling got a little bit of everything in the middle frame, from clutch scoring to phenomenal goaltending, as it fended off a 17-shot attack from the Walleye, while potting three goals. The go-ahead marker came off of a turnover by Toledo goaltender John Lethemon, who gave the puck to Matthew Quercia in the slot. Quercia immediately took a shot, which was tipped into the open net by David Jankowski 44 seconds into the period. 2:16 later, Jankowski struck again. Justin Lee drilled a low shot on goal from the point, which produced the rebound for Jankowski to slam dunk from the bottom of the left circle. With 11 seconds left, the Nailers got a huge goal to take a three-goal lead into the break, as Jarrett Lee swatted in a one-time feed from Tanner Laderoute on the right hash mark.
The Walleye closed the gap to two, when the rebound of Thomas Farrell's shot bounced off of Trenton Bliss and in, but Wheeling's defense stood tall. The Nailers limited Toledo to six shots, and locked down the 4-2 triumph.
Taylor Gauthier was splendid in goal for Wheeling, as he denied 33 of the 35 shots he faced, including all 17 in the second period. John Lethemon took the loss for the Walleye, as he made 27 saves on 31 shots.
The Nailers will make a quick trip to Cincinnati for a 1:35 game on Friday afternoon, before returning home for two more contests this weekend on Saturday at 7:10 and Sunday at 4:10, both against Iowa. Saturday's game is First Responders Night, which will be followed by the annual Guns vs. Hoses match. First Responders will also be able to get a free fountain beverage at the concession stands. Sunday is a Screen Time Sunday, in which one lucky fan will win a free TV courtesy of Walmart. Additionally, fans will be able to skate with the odd-numbered players after Sunday's tilt. 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.