WHEELING, WV– After an exchange of unpleasantries after the game on Wednesday it wouldn’t take long for this game to get physical. Yanick Turcotte of Worcester and Jeremy Beirnes of Wheeling dropped the gloves off the opening faceoff. And as the big hits continued, Dylan Zink and Kyle McKenzie also dropped the gloves just over 5 minutes later. And so, began another game between North Division rivals, the expansion Worcester Railers and the longest tenured team in the ECHL the Wheeling Nailers. Tonight, was the “Teddy Bear Toss” night where fans get to throw stuffed animals on the ice for the Salvation Army to collect and distribute, however, the players wanted to exchange some gifts between themselves first.
At 13:52 of the first, Garrett Meurs scored the “teddy bear goal” as his slapshot from the right faceoff circle beat Eamon McAdam on a 5-on-3 power play. Reid Gardiner and Nick Sorkin got the assists. Meurs now has 11 goals on the season and three on the powerplay. The assist was Sorkin’s 100th North American professional point.
The Nailers finished the first period 1-for-3 on the powerplay. The visitors were unsuccessful on their only attempt of the stanza. Adam Morrison turned away eight shots from the Railers and McAdam stopped the other 10 Wheeling tries.
As he emerged from behind the net Jeff Kubiak, backhanded a rebound past Morrison to pull the guests even at 0:44 of the second period. Barry Almeida and T.J. Syner pick up the helpers. The goal was Kubiac’s second of the season.
Worcester extended their lead at 10:45 of the second, as Nick Saracino got his first of the season beating Morrison low stick side on an odd-man rush. As he crashed the net he followed the puck into Morrison after the puck was in. Turcotte and Justin Hamonic with assists.
As the period was nearing a close, Wheeling got some excellent extended pressure, firing multiple shots at McAdam and Hunter Fejes pushed a rebound in for his seventh of the season. Derek Army and Danny Fick got credited with helpers at 19:28 of the second.
Wheeling outshot the Railers 15-5 in the second for a 26-13 shot lead in the game. Neither team scored on the power play in the second as Worcester had one chance and the Nailers had two (12 seconds of carryover from the first and a full two-minute chance.)
Early in the third, Gardiner forced a turnover and got the puck ahead to Cody Wydo who hesitated and got McAdam out of position so that Dan Milan could fire the puck in. Milan’s second of the season from Wydo and Gardiner and the hosts were back in front 3-2 at 2:57 of the third. Gardiner’s assist here was the 10,000 assist in Wheeling Hockey history.
However, the lead would not last as the visitors tied the game with just over 10 minutes to play. Mike Cornell fired a shot from the left faceoff circle that Woody Hudson would tip-in and tie the game at 3-3 at 9:53. Ben Masella would also be given an assist on Hudson’s fourth of the season.
2:04 later the visitors would get the lead once again as Ashton Rome regained the puck on the right side of the offensive zone. As he started to skate behind the net he passed to Saracino who was in the low slot and Saracino shot it through the five-hole on Morrison to give the Railers a 4-3 advantage. Cornell would be given the secondary assist on Saracino’s second of the night and season at 11:57 of the third.
Gardiner beat McAdam with a shot late, but the shot caught the post and ricocheted away from the net and that was as close as the hosts could get late in this one. After the final buzzer the holiday greeting continued to be exchanged as Milan and Rome would drop the gloves and earn 5-minute majors for fighting and game misconducts for fighting other than during the periods of the game.
Wheeling finished the night 1-for-5 on the powerplay and Worcester was 0-for-2. McAdam earned the win stopping 34 of 37 shots, Morrison suffered the defeat as he stopped 20 of 24. Saracino earned the number one star of the game with McAdam the number two star and Wheeling’s Sorkin got the third star.
Wheeling will continue its quest for the 900th franchise victory tomorrow afternoon in Reading against the Royals. Faceoff is set for 4 pm. The Nailers next home game is Friday, December 1 against Reading at 7:05 pm.
Worcester is off until Friday when they visit the Adirondack Thunder at 7 pm.
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