WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers took care of business against two divisional opponents this weekend at WesBanco Arena, as they earned back-to-back victories. On Saturday night, they faced the second best offense in the ECHL, and Taylor Gauthier was more than up to the task, as he stopped all 32 shots from the Cincinnati Cyclones. Offensively, Dillon Hamaliuk was the star, as he notched a goal and two assists in Wheeling's 3-0 triumph to grab sole possession of second place in the Central Division.
Both teams fired 12 shots on goal in the opening stanza, but the two netminders stood tall to keep the match scoreless. The Nailers changed that 1:46 into the second period. Dillon Hamaliuk won a puck battle behind the net, which allowed Jordan Frasca to set up Davis Bunz in the right circle. Bunz stepped up and blistered a one-timer into the bottom-left corner of the cage. 3:30 later, a similar play occurred for a second Wheeling marker. Hamaliuk won another battle along the end wall, which resulted in Matt Koopman teeing up Justin Lee for a one-time blast from the left circle and into the top-right corner of the twine.
The Nailers added an insurance goal at the 4:25 mark of the third to put the game away. David Drake let a shot go from the middle of the blueline, which got tipped into the net by Hamaliuk for his third point of the evening. At that point, the only question that remained was the shutout, and with two successful penalty kills, that stayed intact, as Wheeling was victorious, 3-0.
Taylor Gauthier continued his dominant play in the crease for the Nailers, as he denied all 32 shots he faced for his third shutout of the season between the AHL and ECHL. Olof Lindbom received the loss for Cincinnati, as he made 24 saves on 27 shots.
The Nailers will play their final game before the holiday break on Friday, when they go to Cincinnati for a 7:35 face-off. Wheeling's next two home contests will take place on New Year's Weekend, when the Norfolk Admirals come to town for a series on Saturday, December 30th at 7:10 and Sunday, December 31st at 6:10. The highlight game of that weekend is Sunday, which 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.