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Three-Goal Third Gives Orlando Series Opener

Friday, January 5th
Three-Goal Third Gives Orlando Series Opener

ORLANDO, FL- The Wheeling Nailers ran into a red hot opponent on Friday night, as the Orlando Solar Bears extended their winning streak to eight games with a big third period on their home ice at Kia Center. Jesse Jacques snapped a 1-1 tie at the 2:12 mark of the final stanza for his second of three goals on the night, as Orlando defeated Wheeling, 4-1 in the opener of the three-game series. Matt Koopman scored the lone marker for the Nailers.

The first period was filled with chances, as the two teams combined to fire a whopping 35 shots on goal. Surprisingly, only one of those pucks found the back of the net, and that was put there by the home squad. Alexandre Fortin chased down a dump-in along the end wall, then centered a pass to Jesse Jacques in the slot. Jacques' first attempt on the backhand got denied, but he put back the rebound with his forehand for the marker.

Wheeling's best period of the season has been the second, and that success continued with a tying goal during the closing minutes of the frame. Evan Vierling spun a pass along the wall to Davis Bunz at the right point. Bunz let a shot fly, which got tipped into the cage by Matt Koopman.

A tied score after two was rare territory for the Nailers, as that was just the fourth of those occurrences this year. Unfortunately, the third period went to the Solar Bears, who found the net three times. At the 2:12 mark, Fortin slipped behind the defense and had his attempt stopped, but Jacques crashed in to deposit the loose change. Just over seven minutes later, an Orlando centering pass deflected off of a Wheeling skate and went right to Marc-Andre Gaudet, who stepped up and whipped a wrist shot into the right side of the net. Jacques put the finishing touches on the 4-1 final score, as he completed his hat trick with the goaltender on his way to the bench for the extra attacker.

Brandon Halverson earned the win for the Solar Bears, as he made 33 saves on 34 shots. Taylor Gauthier suffered the defeat for the Nailers, despite another solid outing with 36 denials on 40 chances.

The Nailers and Solar Bears will play the second game of their three-game set in Orlando on Saturday at 7:00. Wheeling will play three straight home games next weekend on January 12th, 13th, and 14th. The highlight game of that stretch is the next Big Six Promotional Night, which is Super Nailers World on the 13th. That game will feature a video game arcade in the main lobby, a hat giveaway, question mark boxes with various prizes, Nailers Kart during intermission, and specialty jerseys. 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.

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