READING, PA- The Wheeling Nailers put forth a gutsy performance on Wednesday night, as they opened a three-game road series against the Reading Royals at Santander Arena. Wheeling trailed 2-0 and 3-1, before rallying back to earn its second win of the year when trailing by multiple goals. Jordan Martel scored twice in regulation, then Lukas Svejkovsky netted the final two tallies of the night for the Nailers, who were victorious, 5-4 in overtime. The win was Wheeling's third straight on enemy ice.
There weren't many scoring opportunities in the first period, as both teams recorded six shots. However, two of those found the twine, both by the Royals. The opening tally came on the power play. Adam Brubacher delivered a pass to Tag Bertuzzi, who stepped into the left circle and roofed a wrist shot into the top-right corner. With 2:16 remaining, Mason Millman took advantage of traffic in the slot, as he drove a low slapshot off of the right post and in from the left side of the blueline.
The Nailers responded with a strong middle frame, as they potted three of the four goals to even the score. Jordan Martel was the first Wheeling player to turn on the red light, as he flew from his own blueline into the offensive zone, where he made a right turn into the circle, and lifted a wrist shot into the top-right corner of the cage. 1:09 later, Bertuzzi used his speed to his advantage, as he cut through the defense and chipped in a power play goal off of the rush to temporarily put his squad ahead by two. Momentum turned in Wheeling's favor with 6:15 to go, courtesy of Matt Koopman, who stole the puck in his own end, raced down the left side, and zipped a shot over Nolan Maier's glove for a shorthanded strike to pull the Nailers within one. The successful penalty kill was followed by a successful power play. Cédric Desruisseaux forced a turnover, then setup the tying marker, which was a one-time rocket from the left hashmark by Martel.
The Nailers continued to carry the play in the third period, and that led to their first lead of the night with 7:04 remaining. David Drake tossed a wrist shot toward the net, which got tipped in by Lukas Svejkovsky. With less than one minute to go, Reading forced overtime. Bertuzzi delivered a pass to Ryan Chyzowski in the right circle for a wrist shot which flew into the top-right of the goal.
The extra session was over in the blink of an eye, as Wheeling scored at the 53-second mark on its first shot. Svejkovsky called for a pass for Davis Bunz, before dropping the puck off to Martel in the left circle. After doing that, Svejkovsky cruised into the right circle, where he received a return feed from Martel and slammed a shot home to give the Nailers the 5-4 victory.
Taylor Gauthier picked up the win for Wheeling, as he made 12 saves on 16 shots. Nolan Maier received the overtime loss for the Royals, after stopping 27 of the 32 shots he faced.
The Nailers and Royals will continue their three-game series in Reading on Friday night at 7:00. Wheeling's next home game is Friday, February 2nd against Orlando at 7:10, which is a Frosty Friday. Saturday, February 3rd is Pups & Pucks Night, when fans can bring their dog to the game and meet Clifford the Big Red Dog, courtesy of WVPB. The next Big Six Promotional Game is Pittsburgh Penguins Night on Saturday, February 10th, starring two-time Stanley Cup Champion Trevor Daley. 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.