ESTERO, FL – The Wheeling Nailers had to wait nearly a week to play the opening game of the Kelly Cup Playoffs, and when the puck hit the ice, it found its way to the back of the net early and often. The Nailers exploded for four goals in the first period, and that ended up being the difference, as Wheeling won for the ninth straight time in game one of round one. John McCarron and Andrew Ammon both scored twice for, while Cody Wydo racked up four points in the winning effort.
The Nailers were more than ready to start the series, as they came out absolutely flying in the first period. After killing off a 5-on-3, Wheeling turned its attention to offense. Cody Wydo wrapped a puck to the front of the net, where his shot was closed off, but the rebound popped free to John McCarron, who slammed in the first tally of the series. 1:23 later, the visitors extended their lead. Jordan Kwas carried the puck into the high slot, where he connected with Andrew Ammon. Ammon’s wrist shot rang off of the right post and into the net. Another successful penalty kill led to a third goal with 3:14 left. Cody Wydo raced in on a 3-on-1 rush, burying a wrist shot from the right circle. During the final minute of the stanza, a power play goal made the score 4-0, as Mathew Maione found the twine from the right side of the blueline.
The second period was a bit of a different story, as the Everblades attempted to claw back into the contest. Matt Willows’ shot from the right side was denied, but Matt Marquardt drilled in the rebound at 4:44 for his team’s first tally of the series. Florida cut the Nailers lead to two at the 12:22 mark, just as a man advantage expired. Matt Willows fed Ryan Martindale, who roofed a shot from the left circle. With 1:13 remaining in the frame, Wheeling got a big insurance goal, as Ammon tipped in Maione’s shot from the right point for his second of the evening.
The four-goal lead was restored at the 5:26 mark of the third period, when John McCarron tossed in a long distance wrist shot. Gabriel Desjardins got the final marker of the evening for the Everblades, completing the scoring in a 6-3 triumph in favor of the Nailers.
Franky Palazzese was the winning goaltender for Wheeling, as he made 25 saves on 28 shots. Anthony Peters took the loss for Florida, allowing four goals on ten shots in the first period. Rasmus Tirronen turned away 21 of 23 shots in relief.
The Nailers and Everblades will play game two in Estero tonight at 7:00.
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