In three seasons with the Wheeling Nailers, Paul Crowder never scored a shootout goal, failing on nine opportunities. On Sunday afternoon, that wasn’t the case, as the Cincinnati Cyclones forward scored in the fifth round of the shootout, breaking a tie, and lifting his team to a 3-2 victory at WesBanco Arena. Despite the setback, the Nailers have now gained at least one point in ten straight games, going 8-0-2.
Coming into the game, the Nailers had killed off 29 consecutive opposition power plays over the course of the three previous games. Unfortunately, that streak came to an end at the 4:01 mark of the first period, when the Cyclones opened the scoring. Josh Birkholz tossed the puck toward the goal from the top of the left circle, and Barry Almeida was in position for a redirect at the right side of the crease, tapping in the power play goal.
Cincinnati extended the lead just 91 seconds into the second period. A pair of Wheeling forwards collided in the offensive zone, leading to an odd-man rush for the Cyclones. Logan Shaw dished the puck ahead to Jonathan Hazen, who lifted a shot into the right side of the goal.
Despite trailing by a pair, the Nailers rallied in the third. Tyler Fernandez got Wheeling on the board, as he pounded home the rebound of Max MacKay’s initial shot on the right side of the net. 2:25 later, the home team pulled even, when Paul Cianfrini blasted a slap shot from the left circle, beating Michael Houser on the glove side. The goal was Cianfrini’s first since March 18, 2012.
Wheeling outshot Cincinnati 18-10 in the third period and overtime, but the game stayed tied into a shootout. In the third round, the two sides exchanged goals, with Logan Shaw tallying for the Cyclones, before Mike Ratchuk answered for the Nailers. Then, in the fifth round, the visitors escaped with the victory, as Paul Crowder netted a goal for Cincinnati, before Houser turned away MacKay.
Michael Houser was the winning goaltender for the Cyclones, making 28 saves on 30 shots. Mike Condon suffered the shootout loss, despite stopping 28 of the 30 shots he faced for Wheeling.
The Nailers will continue their nine-game homestand on Friday night, when they take on the Reading Royals at 7:00.