WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers were excited to return home on Friday night, and they gave the local crowd a great taste of their recent success, as they collected their seventh straight win. Wheeling stormed out to a 4-0 lead on goals by four different players, then held on for the 4-3 end result. David Drake's goal at the 3:30 mark of the second period ended up being the difference, while Tanner Laderoute, Cédric Desruisseaux, and Matt Koopman also turned on the red light. This is the sixth time all-time that the Nailers have earned seven wins in a row.
The Nailers started their homestand in dynamic fashion, as they exploded for three goals in the first period. The first one came just 53 seconds into the action. Matthew Quercia entered the offensive zone, then slid a pass over to Davis Bunz, who let a wrist shot go from the right point. Tanner Laderoute got a piece of the attempt to redirect it into the cage. Wheeling's next goal came at the 11:31 mark. Justin Addamo blocked a shot, and proceeded to send Cédric Desruisseaux speeding the other way. Desruisseaux flew down the right side of the ice, then whipped a wrist shot into the left side of the goal. 3:06 after that, Matt Koopman struck with a highlight reel shorthanded tally. Koopman broke in behind the defense, and lifted a shot into the top-right corner of the net with just one hand on his stick.
David Drake added to the advantage for the Nailers at the 3:30 mark of the middle frame. The blueliner stickhandled the puck through his own legs, then floated a shot, which found its way through Brandon Halverson and in. Orlando battled back with two goals in a span of 1:56 in the final five minutes of the period, as the margin became two. Tanner Dickinson lifted in the rebound of Aaron Luchuk's shot on the left side of the crease, then Luchuk set up Darik Angeli on a 2-on-1 break, which Angeli buried from the right side of the slot.
The two-goal lead remained until the final minute of the contest, when the Solar Bears' Jesse Jacques blasted in a one-timer from the top of the left circle to make the score 4-3. Wheeling shut the door in the closing 38 seconds to preserve its second one-goal win in regulation this season.
Taylor Gauthier earned his sixth consecutive victory in goal for the Nailers, as blocked away 22 of the 25 shots he faced. Former Nailer Brandon Halverson took the loss in his return to Wheeling with Orlando, as he made 28 saves on 32 shots.
The Nailers and Solar Bears will continue their weekend series in Wheeling on Saturday night at 7:10 with the annual Pups & Pucks Game. Fans can purchase tickets to bring their dogs to the game, and there will be a special appearance by Clifford the Big Red Dog, courtesy of West Virginia Public Broadcasting. The series finale is Sunday at 4:10, in which one fan will win a free TV thanks to Walmart, odd-numbered players will skate with fans after the games, and $2 ice cream sundaes will be available for kids at Flurry's. The next Big Six Promotional Game is Pittsburgh Penguins Night on February 10th, starring two-time Stanley Cup Champion Trevor Daley. There will also be specialty jerseys, a commemorative puck giveaway, a full team post game autograph session, and more. 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.