WHEELING, W.V. – After firing 45 shots and only finding the net twice Saturday night, the Nailers had much better puck luck Sunday afternoon inside Wesbanco Arena. The Nailers never trailed in this one as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead and finished the game 4-2.
Cody Wydo intercepted a pass and pushed a quick little pass to Reid Gardiner who sped into the zone on a breakaway. Gardiner came in down the middle started to the right and fired the puck past Charles Williams glove side at 6:05 to give the Nailers a 1-0 lead.
Minutes later, Wydo received a pass in front on the powerplay from Chris Francis and powered it past Williams to give the hosts a 2-0 lead. Gardiner also picked up an assist on Wydo’s 18th of the season.
12:36 into the first after Keegan Iverson slid into the crease, got into a shoving match with goaltender Adam Morrison. Multiple players came in to defend the Nailers goalie, but the referee and linesmen did a great job keeping it from escalating. Only penalties to Iverson and Morrison for roughing.
Skating 4-on-4 early in the second, Justin Agosta passed across the zone to Alexx Privitera who held, then shot and the puck found its way through to pull the Monarchs to within one. Jake Wood also picked up his second assist on Privitera’s second of the season at 2:39 of the middle stanza.
Between 5:47 and 8:20 the Nailers were called for four penalties (three minors and one 10 min misconduct.) The Nailers killed all three minors, including two separate 5-on-3 sequences.
Early in the final period, Garrett Meurs won a puck battle behind the net early in the third and passed the puck out front to Cam Brown and Brown buried it behind Williams to give the Nailers a two-goal lead once again.
With the Monarchs on the power play just minutes into the third, Michael Doherty chopped the puck off of a Nailers defender and it went up into the air and over Morrison to pull Manchester back to within a goal. Iverson and Zac Lynch credited with help on the goal.
In the final minutes of regulation, Nick Sorkin dropped a pass off in the left faceoff circle, and Gardiner fired the one-time pass in for his 26th of the season and second of the game. Zach Tolkinen also picked up an assist on the play. With the goal at 15:48, Gardiner now has 12 goals in his last ten games.
Morrison picked up his ninth victory of the season and continued a streak of earning at least a standing point in each of his last eight starts. He stopped 27 of 29 shots faced.
Williams faced 30 shots and stopped 26 in the loss. His record stands at 14-7-3-0. Wheeling finished the game 1-for-5 on the power play while killing 5-of-6 Monarch power play opportunities.
Wheeling will return to action on Friday as the Fuel visit Wesbanco Arena for a 7:05 pm faceoff.
Manchester’s next contest is Wednesday as the Brampton Beast visit SNHU Arena for a 7 pm faceoff.