WHEELING, W.V.- Teams always want to do well in every home game in a season, with the home opener and home finale being two of the biggest home dates on the calendar. Wheeling saw a large crowd pass through the turnstiles for the home finale, 4296 to be exact.
With a large crowd inside Wesbanco Arena, the team fed off the energy of the crowd and defeated the Manchester Monarchs 5-2, ending the home slate with a 21-12-3-0 record.
Wheeling got the scoring started just under five minutes into the contest as Troy Josephs pushed a Reid Gardiner pass from the right offensive corner in the net to put the hosts ahead 1-0. Matt Abt collected the secondary assist, his third assist of the season.
However, the Wheeling lead would only last 40 seconds. With the play came from the right side, Ashton Rome pulled the puck across the front of the net. He attempted to center the puck, but it got caught in traffic and Keegan Iverson was able to backhand the puck behind Adam Morrison.
Late in the period, while killing a Garrett Meurs penalty, the Nailers gained the zone on a 3-on-2 rush. Josephs carried the puck into the zone on the right side of the slot. He passed the puck across the slot to Cam Brown who wired the puck up over Evan Cowley for a 2-1 Wheeling lead on the shorthanded goal.
After killing a two-man advantage for Manchester to start the third period, the Nailers went on the powerplay. Moving the puck well in the zone, Gardiner took a pass from Nick Sorkin and wristed a puck along the ice and through the five-hole to make it 3-1 Wheeling. For Gardiner, it was his 28th of the campaign.
Less than a minute later, Josephs passes the puck out front of the net to Sorkin who flipped the puck up over Cowley and off the crossbar, into the net. The goal was scored at 4:16, was Sorkin’s eighth of the year and Freddie Tiffels picked up a secondary assist on the play.
Wheeling continued to put the pressure on Manchester and goaltender Cowley firing shot after shot. Riley Bourbonnais fired a shot from the half wall on the right side and the puck goes in between Cowley’s legs off his right skate and into the net to put the Nailers up 5-1. Brown and Ross McMullan picking up assists on the goal at 10:39 of the third.
On a power-play with just under six minutes to play, Manchester passing kept the puck in the zone and Spencer Watson blasts a one-timer into the right side of the net. Alexx Privitera passing it to Watson for the goal.
Morrison picked up his 17th victory of the season making 25 saves on 27 shots. Cowley hit with the loss his ninth defeat of the campaign having made 29 saves on 34 shots. Wheeling finished the night 1-for-5 on the powerplay, Manchester was 1-for-6 with the man-advantage.
Wheeling will return to action on Friday night in Brampton, ON. The Beast and Nailers will faceoff at 7:15 pm.
Manchester’s next game is Friday as well. The Monarchs will travel to Glens Falls, NY to face the Adirondack Thunder at 7:00 pm.