At the beginning of the season, the Wheeling Nailers had their issues against the Reading Royals, winning just one of the first seven games. Since then, Wheeling has turned things around, taking three of the last four contests, including Wednesday night’s. Cody Sylvester recorded one goal and two assists, while Mike Condon made 30 saves, as the Nailers defeated the Royals, 4-1 at Santander Arena.
The Nailers wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard, as they opened the scoring at the 2:23 mark of the first period. Cody Sylvester curled the puck around the back of the Reading cage, before centering a pass to Carter Rowney in the high slot. Rowney took a stride toward the goal, before snapping a shot along the ice, and through Brandon Anderson for the game’s first tally. Jake Areshenko also picked up an assist, as Wheeling took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
Wheeling’s defense and goaltending stood tall during the middle frame, killing off two penalties, before the offense helped them out, extending the lead with 3:20 remaining. Shane Bakker worked the puck down the right wing wall, before finding Dustin Stevenson at the left point. Stevenson let a wrist shot go, which was tipped into the net by Tyler Fernandez for a 2-0 lead after two.
72 seconds into the third period, the Nailers netted another insurance tally. Mike Ratchuk poked the puck up the right side of neutral ice to Cody Sylvester, who led Zack Torquato on his own into the offensive zone. Torquato tried to sneak a backhander through Anderson, and thanks to Sylvester’s final poke, Wheeling ultimately connected for the goal. The Royals picked up their lone marker while playing shorthanded at 7:32, as TJ Syner set up Brandon Blandina on the right side of the crease. However, the final say belonged to the Nailers, as Denver Manderson hammered home a centering pass from Carter Rowney, making the final score 4-1 in favor of the visitors.
Mike Condon earned his fourth victory against Reading this season, thwarting 30 of 31 attempts for the Nailers. Brandon Anderson suffered his first regulation loss against Wheeling this season, getting beaten four times on 22 shots for the Royals.
The Nailers will continue their six-game road trip on Friday night against the Elmira Jackals at 7:05. Wheeling’s next home game takes place on March 1st against the Reading Royals at 7:00.