INDIANAPOLIS, IN- Goaltending took center stage on Wednesday night at Indiana Farmers Coliseum, as Taylor Gauthier of the Wheeling Nailers and Mitchell Weeks of the Indy Fuel stopped 49 of the 50 shots taken by the respective teams. The only puck that went into a net came from Sam Ruffin, who scored on an odd-man rush during the first period for the Fuel, who came away with a 1-0 win.
Indy controlled the majority of the play in the first period with an 11-3 advantage in shots, and the host squad had a lead to show for it, thanks to a power play goal in the closing minutes. The Fuel skated into the offensive zone on an odd-man rush, following a Wheeling shorthanded try which missed high and wide. Kyle Maksimovich dropped a pass back to Santino Centorame, who placed the puck on the right side of the crease for Sam Ruffin, who touched in his first pro marker.
The Nailers received a terrific opportunity to even the score in the early stages of the middle frame, as Indy took three straight penalties, which included some 5-on-3 time for Wheeling. Although the second period was the best for the Nailers, they were unable to find an equalizer. That story repeated itself in the third period, and a pair of Wheeling penalties in the final four minutes made the climb even steeper. The Fuel ended up holding on for the 1-0 decision.
Mitchell Weeks backstopped his second straight shutout for Indy, as he blocked all 22 shots he faced, and improved to 4-0-1 against his former club. Taylor Gauthier was phenomenal again for the Nailers, as he thwarted away 27 of the 28 shots he faced in the defeat.
The Nailers will return home for two games this weekend against the Norfolk Admirals, on Saturday at 7:10 and Sunday at 6:10. Fans at Saturday's contest will receive a free foam hockey puck courtesy of Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack. Sunday is Kids New Year's Eve, featuring an interactive light show, free sparkling grape juice, as well as New Year's hats and noisemakers. That will also be a Screen Time Sunday in which one lucky fan will win a new TV courtesy of Walmart, and $2 ice cream sundaes will be available at Flurry's. The next Big Six Promotional Game is Super Nailers World on Saturday, January 13th. 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.