WHEELING, WV- A span of just under eight minutes was the difference in Friday night's game between the Wheeling Nailers and Toledo Walleye at WesBanco Arena. Toledo started the second period with three straight goals, including a tying marker on the power play, as the Walleye edged Wheeling, 3-2. Brandon Kruse scored twice for Toledo, while Matt Koopman found the net twice for the Nailers.
Both teams put forth strong defensive efforts in the first period, but at the 6:19 mark, the Nailers were able to break through for the opening tally. Thimo Nickl delivered a wrist shot along the ice from the right point, which gave Matt Koopman the perfect opportunity to redirect the puck into the left side of the cage.
Toledo had a big start to the middle frame, as the visitors scored three times in a span of 7:51 to flip a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 lead. The tying marker came on the power play, as Mitchell Lewandowski sifted a pass through the top of the crease for Brandon Kruse, who slammed in the backdoor feed from the left side. Kruse struck again 90 seconds later, as Chase Gresock chased down a loose puck in the left circle, then dropped off the pass to Kruse, whose one-timer had just enough power to trickle over the right side of the goal line. The Walleye got their third strike from Alexandre Doucet, who lifted in a sharp angle shot from deep on the left side. Wheeling got one goal back 39 seconds after that. David Jankowski waited patiently in the left circle, before banking a shot off of Koopman and in.
Toledo's defense played a tight third period, limiting the Nailers to just three shots on goal, which finished off the 3-2 win for the Fish.
Jan Bednar got the win for the Walleye, as he made 15 saves on 17 shots. Taylor Gauthier was saddled with the defeat for Wheeling, despite blocking away 29 of the 32 shots he faced.
The Nailers will travel to Indy to face the Fuel on Saturday at 7:00, before returning home to conclude the weekend on Sunday at 4:10 against Kalamazoo. Sunday's game is a Screen Time Sunday, in which one lucky fan will win a free TV courtesy of Walmart. Additionally, fans will be able to skate with the even-numbered players following the contest, and $2 sundaes will be available for kids at Flurry's. The next Big Six game is Wheeling Wonderland on Saturday, December 9th. That night will have a Pom Pom Hat Giveaway, the Small Business Holiday Village, a chance to meet Santa and other characters, free hot chocolate, and the annual Teddy Bear Toss. 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.