INDIANAPOLIS, IN- The Wheeling Nailers took the monkey that was Indiana Farmers Coliseum, and launched it off of their backs on Friday night, as they started their weekend with a huge victory over the Indy Fuel. Wheeling trailed 3-2 with less than three minutes to go, before Jordan Frasca scored the tying goal to force overtime. In the extra session, Davis Bunz was the hero, as he scored the game winning goal, which featured points by three defensemen, lifting the Nailers to the 4-3 decision. Isaac Belliveau chipped in with three points and Taylor Gauthier made 26 saves.
The Fuel had a heavy advantage in shots during the first period, and were able to use one of those to take the lead while playing with the man advantage. Bryan Lemos chased down a Wheeling clear, and started the rush with a breakout pass to Seamus Malone in center ice. Malone sped down the left side, then got just above the goal line, before he slithered a pass through the slot to Jon Martin, who chipped a shot into the top-right corner of the cage.
The middle frame was significantly better for the Nailers, who flexed their muscles on the scoreboard and in the scrums. Wheeling started things off with the equalizer, which came at the 1:50 mark. Isaac Belliveau drifted down the left wing wall, then found an opening in the middle of the ice, which allowed him to turn in to the right side of the slot and shovel a backhander into the top-right corner of the goal. A little more than two minutes later, the physical play ramped up another notch, and it resulted in the third fight of the season between the squads, as Félix Paré challenged Colin Bilek. 4:10 after that, the Nailers grabbed the lead. Belliveau and Owen Headrick exchanged passes on the right side of the ice, before Cédric Desruisseaux curled out of the corner and slammed in a shot from the right hash mark.
The seesaw battle continued in the third period, as Indy scored twice in 3:18 to retake the lead, 3-2. Bryan Lemos converted on a 4-on-4 breakaway by zipping in a low shot on the right side, then Kyle Maksimovich struck on the man advantage, when his wrister from the left side of the slot found the left side of the twine. But Wheeling was determined to get points out of the game, and with 2:39 remaining, Jordan Frasca evened the score, as he sniped a shot from the left circle that was in and out of the top-right corner in the blink of an eye.
Overtime only saw one shot, and that shot ended the match at the 2:53 mark. Isaac Belliveau waited patiently in his own end, then tossed a pass to Justin Lee, who eventually led Davis Bunz ahead. Bunz sped down the right side of the ice, then fired a shot from the circle, which found a home in the left side of the net to deliver the 4-3 Nailers triumph.
Taylor Gauthier earned the win in goal for Wheeling, as he denied 26 of the 29 shots he faced. Mitchell Weeks received the overtime loss for the Fuel, as he made 22 saves on 26 shots.
The Nailers will begin a four-game homestand on Saturday night for Wheeling Wonderland, when they take on the Tulsa Oilers at 7:10. There will be a Pom Pom Hat Giveaway, fans can shop at the Small Business Holiday Village, Santa and other holiday characters will be at the game, there will be free hot chocolate, and when the Nailers score their first goal, the annual Teddy Bear Toss will take place to benefit the Salvation Army. 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.