The Wheeling Nailers began a three-game series with the Toledo Walleye on Friday night at WesBanco Arena, and unfortunately, came out on the wrong side of the scoreboard. The Walleye broke a 2-2 tie with a pair of tallies in the early stages of the third period, en route to ultimately picking up a 5-2 victory, extending their lead in the standings to eight points over Wheeling.
Toledo started off the scoring at the 7:02 mark of the first period, when Willie Coetzee set up Gleason Fournier for a one-timer from the left side of the slot. After Joe Tolles dropped the gloves with Stephon Thorne, the Nailers bounced back with the equalizer, as Reid McNeill hammered in a drive from the right point. Chris Barton and Paul Crowder assisted on the goal, giving Crowder his 50th point of the season.
The second period followed a similar script to the first, starting with a goal from the visitors. Travis Novak spotted Joey Martin, who snapped in a one-timer from the right face-off dot. However, Wheeling came back to tie the game once again, as Scott Zurevinski trickled a shot through Kent Simpson from the right wing wall. Adam Ross snagged the lone assist, as Zurevinski picked up a point for the fifth game in a row.
Early in the third period, the Walleye took their third lead of the game, thanks to a power play goal. Nino Musitelli took a shot from the right circle that deflected off of Trevor Parkes and into the cage. A little less than five minutes later, Toledo added to the lead, when Cody Lampl wristed in a shot from the right side of the slot. The Nailers climbed within one with 3:40 to go, as Jordy Trottier set up Keven Veilleux for a dart from the bottom of the right circle. Unfortunately, Wheeling couldn’t get any closer, as Aaron Bogosian iced the 5-3 Walleye win with an empty netter.
Kent Simpson picked up the win for Toledo, stopping 35 of the 38 shots he faced. Peter Delmas took the loss for the Nailers, making 33 saves on 37 shots.
“The guys played hard, you know, it’s just a couple of bad breaks,” said Nailers Head Coach Clark Donatelli. “Mentally, we just have to be a little sharper. We have to get a win, play desperate hockey. We have to play like it’s our last game,” he said.
The Nailers and Walleye will duke it out twice more over the weekend at Huntington Center, beginning with a 7:05 game on Saturday night.