Derek Army has been one of the most productive performers as of late for the Wheeling Nailers, and on Sunday night, his success continued. Army picked up a goal and two assists, including the game winner at the 8:18 mark of the third period, lifting the Nailers to a 3-2 victory over the Reading Royals at WesBanco Arena.
After a scoreless first period, the two sides exchanged special teams during the middle frame. Reading got the first strike of the evening, while playing down a man. Bryant Molle blocked the puck on the left side of his own zone, allowing Pat Mullane to lead a 2-on-1 rush through center ice. Mullane shuffled a pass through the slot, where it was finished off by Sean Wiles in the right circle. The Nailers answered with a power play goal 1:03 later. David Makowski walked in from the right point, driving a slap shot into a pile of traffic in front of the net. The puck ended up trickling in over the line, for a 1-1 score after forty minutes. Derek Army assisted on the equalizer, extending his point streak to six games.
Wheeling took its first lead of the evening at the 3:34 mark of the third period. Derek Army centered a pass to Jarrett Burton, who chipped a shot over Connor Knapp’s right shoulder and into the top-left corner of the cage. The lead didn’t last long, as the Royals roared back with their second shorthanded tally of the game. Pat Mullane tossed a pass over to Adam Hughesman, who deposited a shot from the left circle, finishing off the 2-on-1 break. However, the Nailers had the final say, regaining the advantage 2:17 later. Riley Brace pumped a shot on goal from the left side, which was stopped by Knapp. The rebound deflected out to Army, who completed a three-point night with the eventual game winning goal. Burton added an assist, giving him three points as well in the 3-2 triumph for the home team.
Eric Hartzell stood on his head in goal for Wheeling, thwarting 36 of the 38 shots he faced for the win. Connor Knapp made 29 saves on 32 shots for Reading, taking the loss.
The Nailers will play a pair of home games next weekend, welcoming the Greenville Road Warriors to WesBanco Arena for 7:35 tilts on Friday and Saturday.
The December 19th game is a Frosty & Flat Screen Friday, presented by The Highlands & The Law Firm of Bordas and Bordas. There will also be a Max MacKay Poster Giveaway, courtesy of Rich and Shirley’s Quick Print of Wheeling. The 20th is a season ticket redemption night and team picture giveaway (holiday edition). Both games are slated for 7:35 starts against the Greenville Road Warriors.