Mannino Stops 21 in Wheeling Debut
For the second straight preseason game, the Wheeling Nailers had a great first 40 minutes, but ran into difficulty in the third period. After scoring three times in the middle frame, the Nailers surrendered three tallies in the third, as the Fort Wayne Komets earned a 4-3 come-from-behind win at WesBanco Arena.
Despite being whistled for four minor penalties during the first period, the Komets were able to take the lead, thanks to a shorthanded goal. Chris Auger won an offensive zone face-off ahead to Scott Fleming, who squeezed a shot into the left side of the net. Wheeling outshot Fort Wayne 11-9 in the opening frame, but trailed 1-0 at the intermission.
In the second period, the Nailers turned the game in their favor. Peter Mannino kicked out a shot from the right circle, quickly sending Max MacKay down the right side of the ice. When he reached the right circle, MacKay picked the top corner over Max Strang’s glove, tying the game at one. 55 seconds later, Wheeling took the lead on a power play goal. Scott Zurevinski received a pass at the bottom of the left circle, before slipping a pass through the crease to Zack Torquato, who banged in his first marker of the preseason. With 1:54 left in the period, the Nailers extended their lead, when Max MacKay found Tyler Fernandez for a tap-in, which also took place on the right side of the crease.
Unfortunately for the home team, Fort Wayne had a strong start to the third period, tying the game with two goals in the first 3:35 of the stanza. Joe Hartman brought the Komets within one with his wrist shot from the right point, before Auger roofed a shot from the slot for the equalizer. With 6:49 to go, the visitors took the lead for good, as Kevin Walrod followed up Scott Fleming’s shot, scoring on the rebound, giving the game a 4-3 final score in favor of Fort Wayne.
Max Strang earned the win for the Komets, making 29 saves on 32 shots. Alex Westlund took the loss for Wheeling, allowing three goals on eight shots, in relief of Peter Mannino who stopped 21 of 22 shots.
The Nailers will be in Reading on Friday night for a 7:05 face-off, in the first of two road preseason tilts over the weekend. Wheeling’s regular season opener takes place on October 18th at 7:00 against Elmira