WHEELING, WV- After a successful opening weekend in Greenville, SC, the Nailers opened the home portion of the schedule Saturday night. Following a block party in front of Wesbanco Arena, the fun moved inside as the hosts looked to continue their winning ways on the ice.
Debuting a new player entrance onto the ice, an inflatable that looked like the pillar of the famed Wheeling suspension bridge with the Nailers mask and crossed nails logo on top of it, the team from the Friendly City seized the early momentum of the game. Getting a huge chance early, Cyclones goalie Anthony Peters made a huge save on the second shot of the game on a point-blank chance by Kenny Ryan. The Cyclones got the first power play of the night as the Nailers drove the net hard and Nick Sorkin would get called for goaltending interference at 2:36. Wheeling killed the penalty, and the game remained scoreless.
After killing a penalty of their own, the Cyclones opened the scoring as Justin Danforth scored from the slot on the power play to put the visitors ahead 1-0. Jesse Schultz and Eric Knodel credited with assists on the goal at 14:14 of the first. The score would stay that way through the end of the first period. Cincinnati held a 9-8 shot advantage at the first intermission.
Wheeling forward Jeremy Beirnes got whistled for roughing at 3:49 of the second followed by a Dan Milan slashing minor at 4:10 gave the visitors a two-man advantage early in the second. Wheeling was able to kill the first 1:20 5-on-3 situation, but Cincinnati made Wheeling pay with their second power-play marker of the game. Knodel unloaded a slap shot from the top of the right faceoff circle that beat Colin Stevens clean to give the Cyclones a 2-0 lead. Shawn O’Donnell and Danforth got assists at 5:28
With Arvin Atwal in the box for tripping, the Nailers got on the board for the first time at home. Cam Brown would stuff one in behind Peters to pull back to within one at 12:26 of the second. Derek Army and Garrett Meurs were credited with the help on the goal.
Following a big hit on Knodel, Cody Wydo would drop the gloves with Brandon McNally. Wydo got only the fighting major, McNally picked up an instigation minor to go along with his fighting major at 14:08. The Nailers power play applied heavy pressure on Peters, Reid Gardiner’s goal to pull the hosts even came just as the power play expired. The Cyclones players were more interested in Meurs who was playing an agitating role and left Gardiner alone in the left faceoff circle to bury a pass from Brown at 16:14.
The second period came to an end with the game tied at two; Wheeling fired 22 shots in the second period to hold a 30-20 shot advantage through two periods. For the third time in as many games, the third period would be decisive for the Nailers.
The third period started with a lot of end to end action and the teams trading chances; however, both goalies stood tall to keep the game deadlocked. It was Wheeling captain Derek Army who found the back of the net at 13:24 as he played a Zach Tolkinen shot off the end boards and tucked it into an empty net as Peters was out of position on the left side, and Army snuck it in on the left side. Milan would also be credited with an assist. Peters appeared to be hurt on the play, and it was Jason Kasdorf who would come in to finish the game for Cincinnati.
With just over two minutes to play Cyclones bench boss Matt MacDonald pulled Kasdorf for the extra attacker to try to knot the game up. However, with 27.6 seconds to play Ryan scored to ice the game for Wheeling, with Brown picking up an assist.
For the game, Wheeling had 39 shots, and the Cyclones ended with 32. Cincinnati was 2-for-4 on the man advantage, and the Nailers were 1-for-5. Stevens would advance his record to 2-0-0 with 30 saves on 32 shots he faced. Peters would take the loss allowing three goals on 38 shots in 53:26 of ice time. Kasdorf didn’t see a shot in his 5:01 of relief time.
Wheeling (3-0-0-0) travels to Reading to face the Royals this afternoon. Faceoff is set for 4 pm ET.
Cincinnati (0-1-1-0) is off until Friday when they travel to Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana to face the Komets; game time is scheduled for 8 pm ET.
Be sure to check out my colleague, Zack Rawson’s photo gallery of last night’s game, here: https://thesinbin.net/photos-cyclones-vs-nailers-102117/