WHEELING, WV – The Nailers jumped out to a seven to one-shot advantage in the first and never looked back as they controlled this game from the start. By the end of the first period, the Nailers had extended that advantage to 16-10 and lead 3-2. A final minute goal in the second period seemed to completely deflate the visitors and propelled the Nailers to their sixth straight win at home and 14th victory of the season at Wesbanco Arena.
After a big save by Joel Martin for the Wings, Nailers captain Nick Sorkin picked up the puck in Gretzky’s office. He passed it in front to Cody Wydo who blasted a one-timer past Martin and the Nailers were ahead 1-0 at 5:21 of the first. Wydo’s goal in the first, his 16th of the season, was his 70th as a Nailer and gives him sole possession of sixth place all-time in Nailers history. Dan Milan also earned his eighth assist of the year.
3:23 later, while skating 4-on-4, Reid Gardiner brought the puck in the right faceoff circle and fired a shot past Martin and the Nailers took a 2-0 lead. Sorkin and Jeff Taylor getting the help on Gardiner’s 21st of the year.
An offensive rush for Kalamazoo leads to the first goal for the guests. The puck came in on the right side of the zone and Jimmy Mullin roofed it from the right faceoff dot, over Adam Morrison’s shoulder to draw the visitors to within one at 14:28. J.T. Stenglein and Charlie Vasaturo picked up assists on the goal.
The Nailers would answer 1:27 later as Gardiner would flip a puck over the shoulder of Martin to give the Nailers a two-goal lead once again. A shot from Danny Fick got shouldered away by Martin and Taylor passed it out front for Gardiner to flip it in.
On the power play at 18:27, Kalamazoo was once again able to cut the lead to one. Tyler Biggs pushed a Mullin shot towards the right post and the puck slipped between Morrison’s skate and the post. Kyle Blaney also picked up a helper on Biggs’ 13th of the season.
As the second period was ending, Sorkin gloved down a clearing attempt and skated in down the slot. Tried to pass across the crease and the puck appeared to deflect off Martin’s leg pad and into the net. Sorkin’s fifth of the season was unassisted at 19:57.
Early in the third, Jeremy Beirnes fired a shot top shelf past Martin to give the Nailers a 5-2 lead. Beirnes skated in on the left side in a 2-on-1 with Troy Josephs. He held on to the puck and fired it over the left shoulder of Martin. The puck either hit the back side of the post or the back bar of the net to produce an audible sound so Sean MacFarlane, the referee assigned to the game, discussed with the goal judge to make sure the puck was in. Dylan Zink and Chris Francis with assists on Beirnes’ second of the season at 2:59 of the third.
With just under five minutes remaining the Nailers scored again to put this one out of reach for the Wings. Fick blasted a shot from the left point that was redirected in front by Riley Bourbonnais for his 14th of the season. Taylor also picked up an assist on the goal.
Morrison finished the night with 21 saves on 23 shots to improve his record to 8-7-0-0. On the other end, Martin stopped 35 of the 41 shots he faced and saw his record fall to 14-9-2-2. The Nailers were 0-for-5 on the power play while the Wings went 1-for-4. Gardiner selected as the number one star of the game with Sorkin and Taylor two and three respectfully.
Wheeling’s next game will be on Friday as the Reading Royals visit Wesbanco Arena for a 7:05 pm faceoff.
Kalamazoo will also return to action Friday, as the Fort Wayne Komets invade Wings Event Center. Faceoff is scheduled for 7:00 pm.