WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers welcomed their second sellout crowd of the season to WesBanco Arena, as 4,724 fans turned out for Super Nailers World. The first 44 minutes were all Nailers, who were rolling over the Indy Fuel, 7-2 in the third period. However, Indy rallied back with six goals during the final 16 minutes of play for an 8-7 win. The tying and winning goals came during a major penalty.
The Nailers surrendered an early goal on the man advantage, but bounced back with three straight strikes to take a two-goal lead into the locker room. Indy's opening goal came from Colin Bilek, who hesitated in the left circle, before roofing a wrist shot into the top-left corner. Wheeling answered with an equalizer 1:26 later. Thimo Nickl chipped the puck to the bottom of the right circle, where Cédric Desruisseaux found just enough space to squeeze in the goal. Desruisseaux struck again with six minutes left, while playing on the power play. The forward received a cross-ice pass from Justin Lee in the right circle, where he shelved a wrist shot over Cameron Gray's glove. The Nailers tacked on another one 2:58 after that. A netmouth scramble led the puck squirting out to David Drake, who banged a shot off of the crossbar and in.
Momentum followed the home team into the middle frame, as Wheeling extended its lead at the 1:13 mark. Lukas Svejkovsky scooped up the rebound of Justin Addamo's jam at the left post, then lifted a shot up and into the top of the twine. D.J. King recorded the second Fuel tally of the evening, when he deposited a drop pass off the rush from Anthony Petruzzelli. The Nailers quickly dusted that off and lit the lamp 1:39 later. Matthew Quercia charged in on a power play rush, then cut across the offensive zone, and eventually slid a backhand into the right side of the cage. 28 seconds left, Indy gave David Jankowski a tape-to-tape pass, and Jankowski took full advantage by ripping a wrist shot into the top-right corner.
Justin Addamo put Wheeling ahead 7-2 at the 2:11 mark of the third, when he connected on the power play from the left circle. In an unexpected turn of events, the final 16 minutes went the other way. Christopher Cameron sniped a shot off of the rush at 4:39 for a 7-3 score. Jon Martin shoveled a rebound into the top portion of the net at 8:40 to make the game 7-4. Josh Maniscalco then tallied twice with a pair of rockets into the left side of the cage to cut his squad's deficit to one. With 3:27 remaining, Dillon Hamaliuk crushed Martin in front of the penalty boxes, and was given a major penalty and game misconduct for boarding. Due to a previous set of matching minors, that created a 4-on-3 power play for Indy. Kyle Maksimovich tied the match on a rebound goal from the right circle with 2:36 left, then 29 seconds later, Colin Bilek gave the Fuel an 8-7 lead with a one-timer from the left circle. Still killing the major to end the game, the Nailers were unable to create any offense for a tying goal, and Indy prevailed, 8-7.
Cameron Gray got the win for the Fuel, despite allowing seven goals on 41 shots. Taylor Gauthier received the loss for Wheeling, as he made eight saves on 11 shots in relief of Jaxon Castor, who started with 20 saves on 25 shots.
The Nailers will finish off their three-game weekend homestand on Sunday afternoon at 4:10, when they face the Kalamazoo Wings. That game will be a Screen Time Sunday, in which one lucky fan will win a free TV courtesy of Walmart. Plus, there will be a post game skate with even-numbered players, and $2 sundaes will be available for kids at Flurry's. 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.