Eric Hartzell had played well in his most recent two starts for the Wheeling Nailers, but on Thursday night, he was perfect. The rookie netminder played his best game as a professional to this point, denying all 37 shots by the Elmira Jackals, earning his first career win and shutout. Offensively, Hartzell was aided by Sahir Gill, whose first pro goal served as the only marker in a 1-0 Wheeling win at WesBanco Arena.
Fans were able to tell that goaltending was going to be a factor in the early goings, as the two teams combined for 27 shots on goal during the first period, but the scoreboard remained empty.
In the middle frame, Wheeling killed off a minor penalty for delay of game, and there were also matching roughing penalties assigned, but the real story occurred with 6:23 remaining, when the home team finally broke through. Chaz Johnson floated a pass through the slot to Sahir Gill, who redirected the puck inside of the left post. Scott Zurevinski also assisted on Gill’s first professional goal.
The third period featured two more successful penalty kills for the Nailers, as well as a bit of physical play, but in the end, the score remained the same, as the two netminders were brilliant. Wheeling held on for the 1-0 triumph.
Eric Hartzell secured his first career win and shutout, making 37 saves for the Nailers. Scott Greenham earned third star honors, with 23 saves on 24 shots for the Jackals, but took the loss.
The Nailers and Jackals will meet again in Elmira on Friday, before returning to WesBanco Arena on Saturday for a 7:00 game.