WHEELING, W.Va.– Another home game at WesBanco Arena comes down to the final three minutes before the deciding goal finds the back of the net. A three-goal third period helped Wheeling propel past Tulsa in the first-ever meeting between the two franchises. Last weekend the heroics came from defenseman Blake Siebenaler and forward Yushiroh Hirano. Tonight, forward Jan Drogz would be the hero as he got two goals to lead the Nailers.
Wheeling struck first with Cam Brown netting an emotional goal, his third of the season, just 18 seconds into the contest. The Nailers had just paid tribute to a long-time booster who passed away suddenly this past week. However, the lead was short-lived as JJ Piccinich tied the game at 1:54, and the first period would end tied at 1-1.
In the second Wheeling would once again grab the lead with Christopher Brown getting his first professional goal at 2:00. The lead would be short-lived as Tulsa again tied the game at 4:21 after Robby Jackson would best Nailer goalie Alex D’Orio for a 2-2 tie. Turnovers would plague Wheeling in the second period. Jared Thomas would stop a Wheeling clearing attempt and sent a shot-pass to Adam Pleskach to redirect the puck behind D’Orio, giving Tulsa its first lead of the night. Another critical turnover for the hosts occurred while killing a penalty later in the second. Piccinich and Jackson were able to dig the puck out from behind the net to Miles Liberati in the slot, and Liberati roofed it past D’Orio for a power play goal and a two-goal Oiler lead.
Drogz would get his first goal of the evening at 15:59 of the second trimming the visitor’s lead to one. Drogz came in down the right wing and hammered the puck off the near post, under the crossbar and inside of the far post before settling in the net behind Oiler goalie Ollie Eriksson Ek. The teams would head to the intermission with the score Tulsa 4, Wheeling 3.
Just over half-way through the third, Myles Powell would knot the game at four as he would backhand a shot up and over the glove side of Eriksson Ek into the net, setting the stage for the Nailers late-game heroics once again.
On a rush up ice, Drogz fired a laser beam of a shot from the right faceoff dot on the rush past a sliding Eriksson Ek on the stick side to give Wheeling its third and final lead of the game. Hirano would tack on an empty-net power play goal to ice the game away with 26 seconds showing on the clock.
“You know what we hung in there, just chipped away; I felt like we were back on our heels at times. They really pressed our D and are a big strong team, and we just found a way to kind of stay in there and got some big goals from Drogz,” Nailers coach Mike Bavis stated after the win.
“This is a tough division and a tough conference, and you’re going to be trailing in games, you know, that’s just the nature of it. You have to be able to stick to it and play your game, and we have big skill upfront, so obviously we can get goals in bunches, but I like our attitude .“ Bavis stated about the last two games having three-goal third periods for his club
“I think we are getting great leadership,” Bavis continued, ” in the sense that we’ve had games that have been right down to the wire, we’ve had games that we’ve been trailing and gone into the locker room and some of our leadership, our captains really have taken control of the room and kind of just reset and come out for the third ready to play. We said we aren’t playing our game; We are down by one goal in our building. And I was real happy and impressed with the way the guys played the game with it on the line.” Bavis stated about the team’s ability to come back in the third period of games.
When asked about Drogz’s game-winning goal, the Nailer bench boss had this to say: “He’s got a big-time release, and he’s really confident in the scoring area, and it’s nice to see him get rewarded for his good play.”