CINCINNATI, OH- The Wheeling Nailers will enter the holiday break with a joyous feeling, as they collected their third straight victory, and swept a home-and-home series against the Cincinnati Cyclones at Heritage Bank Center. Dillon Hamaliuk put Wheeling ahead for good at the 8:05 mark of the third period in a game which was dominated by the special teams for the Nailers. Wheeling scored twice on the power play, once shorthanded, and killed all eight Cincinnati man advantages. The best penalty killer was Taylor Gauthier, who improved to 5-0-1 in his last six starts with 35 saves.
Wheeling's special teams shined in the first period, as the visitors got on the board with a power play goal and a shorthanded marker. The power play strike came first, when Lukas Svejkovsky sped down the right side of the ice. It appeared that Svejkovsky may turn behind the goal, but instead banked the puck off the back of Cincinnati goaltender Olof Lindbom and in over the goal line. The shorthanded goal came 3:06 later. Jordan Frasca and Matt Koopman exchanged passes on a 2-on-1 break, and Frasca eventually took his time in the right circle, then whipped a shot through Lindbom's legs.
The score remained 2-0 for the majority of a penalty-filled middle frame, but with 1:34 remaining, the Cyclones pulled within one. Nick Isaacson spun the puck off the wall and into the low slot for a wide-open Sahil Panwar, who roofed a wrist shot into the top-left corner of the cage. The goal ended Taylor Gauthier's shutout streak at 144:16.
Justin Vaive tied the score for Cincinnati with a breakaway wrist shot up and under the crossbar 1:14 into the third, but the Nailers quickly dusted themselves off and went back to work to regain the lead. 11 seconds after killing a penalty, Wheeling netted the go-ahead tally. Cédric Desruisseaux came out of the box and touched the puck ahead to Dillon Hamaliuk, who cruised into the right circle, and drilled a shot through Lindbom's legs. 2:58 later, the power play converted once more for a key insurance marker. Isaac Belliveau slid a pass into the left circle, where Jordan Martel clobbered home his second man advantage goal in three contests since joining the Nailers. Gauthier and the 8-for-8 penalty kill took care of the final 8:57 to preserve the 4-2 triumph.
Taylor Gauthier was phenomenal between the pipes again for Wheeling, as he denied 35 of the 37 shots he faced. Olof Lindbom suffered the loss for the Cyclones, as he made 29 saves on 33 shots.
The Nailers will have four days off for the holidays, before returning to action in Indy on Wednesday at 7:00. 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.