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Utah Snaps Wheeling's Winning Streak in Series Opener

Saturday, February 17th
Utah Snaps Wheeling's Winning Streak in Series Opener

WEST VALLEY CITY, UT- The Wheeling Nailers would have loved to have seen their record-tying winning streak last forever, but unfortunately, it came to an end on Friday night in the opening match of a three-game series against the Utah Grizzlies at Maverick Center. Utah's Cole Gallant snapped a 2-2 tie with a goal right after a power play expired, and the Grizzlies added an empty netter for the 4-2 home ice win. Wheeling got both of its markers from defensemen, as Isaac Belliveau and Louie Roehl found the back of the net, while Taylor Gauthier made a season-high 39 saves.

The Grizzlies opened the scoring with a pair of goals in the back half of the first period. The first strike came during a four-minute power play. Mick Messner dug the puck out of a scrum along the right corner boards and centered a pass to Nathan Burke, who stepped into the slot and buried a one-timer into the left side of the cage. With 2:26 remaining, Utah capitalized on a Wheeling turnover, and Brett Stapley was the beneficiary, as he found himself open between the hashmarks, where he flipped a shot into the left side of the net.

The Nailers rebounded with a strong middle frame, as they held a 12-10 advantage in shots, and two of those turned on the red light. Isaac Belliveau put Wheeling on the board at the 3:24 mark, when he launched a wrist shot from the blueline, which flew into the top-left corner of the twine. The Nailers then pulled even just before the midway mark, following a terrific effort on the rush by Shaw Boomhower. The puck got kicked around in the low slot, and eventually found Louie Roehl, who instantly spun a backhander along the ice and through Dante Giannuzzi's legs.

Utah applied all sorts of pressure in the third period with 20 shots on goal, and at the 6:50 mark, the home side regained the lead less than one second after a Nailers penalty had expired. Cole Gallant took a wrist shot from the top of the right circle, and picked his spot in the top-left corner of the cage. Wheeling had to kill one more penalty in the final five minutes, which limited its time to mount a comeback, and with 28 seconds to go, Brandon Cutler iced the 4-2 Grizzlies win with an empty netter.

Dante Giannuzzi collected the victory for Utah, as he turned away 29 of the 31 shots he faced. Taylor Gauthier made a season-high 39 saves on 42 shots in the defeat for the Nailers.

The Nailers and Grizzlies will continue their three-game series in Utah on Saturday at 9:10. Wheeling's next homestand will take place on February 23rd, 24th, and 25th. The highlight game of the weekend will be Country Night on Saturday the 24th, which features a post game concert by Jason Michael Carroll presented by Generations. 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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