WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers looked to end a seven-game homestand on a positive note on Tuesday night at Wesbanco Arena. After dumping the Indy Fuel by a 7-3 count on Friday, the Nailers were handed a 7-3 defeat by the Fort Wayne Komets to be 3-2-1 in the first six games of the homestand. Meanwhile, the Toledo Walleye came into Tuesday’s contest having won 4 straight and 4-0-1 in the last five. After an even first period seeing each team light the lamp once on the power play it was Toledo’s special teams that would rule the night getting three powerplay goals and an empty net shorthanded goal to continue rolling and send the Nailers on the road with a .500 homestand in the rearview mirror.
The Walleye get the early lead on the evening’s first powerplay. A faceoff to the right of Nailer netminder Adam Morrison, Ryan Obuchowski passed across to Davis Vandane. Vandane passed the puck across the top of the circles to Christian Hilbrich who slammed it home just six seconds into the power play at 9:08 of the first.
Special teams remain a factor as the Nailers hit the scoresheet on their third powerplay of the evening. Freddie Tiffels passed from the left faceoff circle to Kevin Schulze. Schulze moved it to Cody Wydo who shot it off the post and in, evening the score. The goal gives Wydo points in nine straight.
With less than a minute to play in the first. Erik Bradford received a penalty shot. He came in on the left side of the slot went to the forehand and shot it along the ice. Morrison stopped the puck under him and was able to keep the puck on the goal line as Bradford slid into the net.
Just over 7:30 into the second, Jeff Taylor steps into a Walleye player at the defensive blue line, then gets the puck to Cam Brown. Brown skated into the zone and passed it to Garrett Meurs, who fired the puck top shelf past Matej Machovsky. The goal is Meurs’ 16th at 7:41 of the middle frame.
Toledo would find the net again just past the halfway point of the contest. A powerplay marker at the 10:24 mark is one that Morrison wishes he could have back. Obuchowski fired the puck towards the net, and Dylan Sadowy tipped it to keep it on the ice and Morrison lifted out of the butterfly, and the puck slid in five-hole. The secondary assist went to Vandane, his second of the contest.
Connor Crisp put the Walleye ahead for good 46 seconds after tying the game. A Wheeling player lost his stick, and Toledo was able to keep the pressure on Morrison. A rebound of the shot by Mike Embach, came straight out to Crisp who fired it past Morrison for his 11th of the year at 11:10. Charlie O’Connor picked up his 10th assist of the year on the play.
Early in the third Toledo would extend the lead. Simon Denis stopped a Nailer dump into the zone and passed the puck up to Embach at the offensive blue line, and he skated into the zone a few strides and fires one to the roof over Morrison into the net and Toledo lead 4-2 at 2:16 of the third. The goal would end the night for Morrison; Will King would enter as the Nailers’ new goaltender.
A shorthanded rush for Wheeling would lead to the third Walleye powerplay goal. On the rush for Wheeling, Chris Francis had the puck on the right-side wall and passed in front of Tiffels who got denied by Machovsky and allowed Toledo to rush back the other way. Bradford jumped on the rebound for Toledo and headmanned up to Hilbrich. The former Nailer forward charged into the zone on the left side and saucered the puck across the hash marks to Bradford. Bradford then fired the one-time pass home past King and the Walleye lead was three at 5-2 at 12:27 of the third.
Late in the third, Meurs would take a hard knee-on-knee hit from Kevin Gibson. Gibson was assessed a five-minute major penalty for kneeing at 17:53 of the third. On the powerplay, Wheeling pulled King to have a 6-on-4 manpower advantage. However, it was Crisp picking up his second of the game as he launched one from just below the left faceoff dot in his defensive zone and into the open cage to seal this one away for the visitors from northwest Ohio.
Machovski picked up the victory for Toledo stopping 32 of 34 shots. His record improves to 10-7-0-1 on the year. Morrison stopped 30 of 34 in 42:06 in the loss. King came in and stopped seven of the eight shots put on him, and the empty net absorbed the other Walleye shot for a total of 43 in the contest. Morrison’s record falls to 10-9-1-0. Former Wheeling Nailer Christian Hilbrich took home the number one star of the game for Toledo with Obuchowski getting the second star. Cody Wydo picked up the number three star selection in the loss.
Wheeling will resume its 2017-18 slate on Friday night in Orlando’s Amway Center. Gametime against the Solar Bears is 7:00 pm
The Walleye will return to action on Friday as well as they will host the Kansas City Mavericks inside Huntington Center with faceoff at 7:15 pm