The 2013 preseason wasn’t the prettiest for the Wheeling Nailers, but now they can look ahead to the games that count. On Saturday night, Wheeling managed to score a pair of power play goals, but were unable to erase a 5-0 deficit, as they fell to the Fort Wayne Komets 6-2 at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.
The Komets netted a pair of goals in the opening frame, as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead. The first marker came in relatively odd fashion, as a large hit in neutral ice led to a minor disagreement between a few players. In the meantime, John Dunbar and Tristan King ended up creating a 2-on-1 chance for Fort Wayne, with Dunbar scoring from the bottom of the left circle. Later in the period, the Komets extended their lead, when Scott Fleming won a race for the puck, before feeding Chris Auger, who lifted a backhander into the top shelf, while playing shorthanded.
Fort Wayne picked up where it left off in the early stages of the second period, lighting the lamp for a third time. Simon Danis-Pepin rocketed a shot wide of the net, but the rebound went to John Dunbar, who banked the puck off of Mike Condon and in. Later in the period, Mickey Lang potted a pair of markers, scoring the first one off of a quick three-way passing play with Brandon Marino and Rob Kwiet, while also connecting with Marino for a shorthanded goal, ultimately making the score 5-0. With 2:18 remaining, the Nailers got on the board. Russell Goodman dangled through the right side of the offensive zone, before backhanding a pass to Max MacKay, who hammered home a one-timer from the slot for his third goal of the preseason.
Early in the third period, the Nailers potted a second straight power play goal. Paul Cianfrini started the rush out of his zone, connecting on a pass with Carter Rowney in center ice. Rowney then pushed the puck forward for Jack MacLellan, who skated in, and lifted a shot over John Muse’s glove. Matthew Larke netted a late power play goal for Fort Wayne, who completed a 6-2 win on home ice.
John Muse picked up the win in goal for the Komets, making 22 saves on 24 shots. Mike Condon suffered the loss for the Nailers, with a 25-save effort against 31 shots.
The Nailers will open the regular season on Friday night, when they play host to the Elmira Jackals at 7:00.