WHEELING, WV- Sunday afternoon's match-up between the Wheeling Nailers and Idaho Steelheads filled every column of the scoresheet. The two squads combined for 11 goals, 69 shots, and 16 power plays, as they wrapped up their three-game series at WesBanco Arena. Idaho's special teams ended up being the difference in the contest, as the Steelheads converted on four of seven power play chances, while limiting the Nailers to one goal on nine opportunities. A.J. White was the top performer for Idaho, as he scored three of the power play markers, as his team took the rubber match, 7-4. Matthew Quercia scored twice for Wheeling.
Two top-five offenses were ready to show their power early on, as both sides scored twice in the opening stanza. Patrick Kudla put Idaho on the scoreboard first at the 3:50 mark, when he stepped into the left circle and drove a slap shot in off of the right post. The Nailers answered 61 seconds later, needing just four seconds of power play time to cash in. Isaac Belliveau slid the puck over to Raivis Ansons in the right circle, where he whipped a wrist shot into the left side of the cage. The Steelheads were also successful on their first man advantage, as they regained the lead. Kudla's initial shot was denied, but Keaton Mastrodonato feathered a pass to the top of the crease, where A.J. White had a tap-in. Wheeling had another quick response 2:11 after that. Dillon Hamaliuk took a whack at a loose puck in the low slot, and Tanner Laderoute sent it the rest of the way, as his third tally in two days was the equalizer.
The story of the second period was the performance of Idaho's special teams, as the Steelheads scored on all three of their power plays, while killing all five of Wheeling's, including a pair of extended 5-on-3's. White gave Idaho its third lead of the day, when he tipped in Matt Register's ice level pass on the right side of the crease. The Nailers were able to answer that strike, as Matthew Quercia deflected Davis Bunz's right point shot out of the air and into the left side of the twine. The final three minutes of the frame belonged to the Steelheads, who scored three times in a span of 2:07. Seamus Donohue buried the rebound of White's initial shot, Kudla roofed a wrist shot on a 2-on-1 break, and White completed his hat trick by sweeping in a wrist shot from the left side of the slot.
Both teams tacked on one goal in the third, as Jack Becker roofed a wrist shot into the top-left corner off of a rush for Idaho, before Quercia shuffled in a rebound for his second of the game for the 7-4 final.
Dylan Wells collected the win for the Steelheads, as he stopped 32 of the 36 shots he faced. David Tendeck suffered the loss for Wheeling, as he allowed five goals on 23 shots, before giving way to Michael McNiven, who made seven saves on nine shots in relief.
The Nailers will spend the next week on the road, starting with a school day game in Toledo on Wednesday at 10:35 a.m. There will be visits to Indy and Fort Wayne over the weekend. Wheeling's next home game is Thanksgiving Eve on Wednesday, November 22nd at 7:10 against Toledo. That night will feature live IWC Wrestling, Turkey Bowling, $2 Beer Specials, and a Twisted Tea Special. First Responders Night is later that week on Saturday, November 25th, which will feature the Guns vs. Hoses Game following the Nailers match against Iowa at 7:10. 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.