For two periods of Saturday night’s game, the Wheeling Nailers looked to be in control, as they took a 4-0 lead into the dressing room. Unfortunately for them, the Elmira Jackals saved their best for last, rallying for four goals in the third period and another in overtime, coming from behind to defeat Wheeling, 5-4. Each of Elmira’s final four goals of the contest came on the power play, due to a major penalty for boarding.
The Nailers wasted little time opening the scoring, connecting on a power play goal just 2:59 into the contest. Russell Goodman steered a shot on goal that was stopped by Mike McDonald, but Patrick McGrath was in position to pound in the rebound. A little more than halfway through the first period, Wheeling added to the lead, after capitalizing on an Elmira turnover. Kyle Fletcher slid a pass to Tyler Fernandez, who ripped home a shot from the left side of the slot. With 5:34 left in the frame, the Nailers tacked on another goal, as Russell Goodman deflected in Paul Cianfrini’s shot from the right point. Fisticuffs were also a major part of the period, as three fights took place, including two during the same stoppage of play.
Midway through the second period, the Nailers upped their lead to four. Fernandez found Max MacKay streaking down the right side of the ice, and MacKay proceeded to find the corner of the net, beating McDonald off of his left shoulder and in. That goal led to a change in goaltenders for both sides, as McDonald allowed four goals on 21 shots for Elmira, while Mike Condon was perfect on 11 shots for Wheeling.
Less than one minute into the third period, the Jackals got on the board, when Locke Jillson snapped in a wrist shot from high in the slot. Then, with 2:58 remaining, Fernandez received a major penalty for boarding, giving Elmira a five-minute power play. The visitors took full advantage of the opportunity, netting three goals in the final minutes of the third period (Cody Dion, Tyler Noseworthy, Matt Caranci), before Mathieu Gagnon rifled in a slap shot from the right point, locking up the overtime win.
Former Nailer Nick Niedert was perfect on 19 shots for Elmira, earning the win in goal. Joey Spagnoli took the loss for Wheeling, making ten saves on 15 shots.
The Nailers are at home again on Wednesday night, when they take on the Fort Wayne Komets at 7:00.