WHEELING, WV – The Wheeling Nailers continued to make Wesbanco Arena inhospitable to opponents on Wednesday night. Entering their contest with the Adirondack Thunder, the Nailers were 10-6-1-0 at home, while Adirondack was 9-7-1-1 on the road, but 0-1 in Wesbanco on the season.
Another North Division game got off to a quick start in Wheeling as they have all season. Riley Bourbonnais picked up the loose puck just in the neutral zone side of the defensive blue line, skated in on the offensive left and fired it into the top right corner, and the hosts were up 1-0. Bourbonnais’ 14th of the year was unassisted at 1:09.
Nailers goaltender Adam Morrison stopped a dump into the trapezoid, and Zach Tolkinen picked it up and passed ahead to Garrett Meurs. Meurs fired a shot that got past Drew Fielding and the Nailers had a two-goal lead.
On a power play late in the period, Andrew Radjenovic passed the puck to Tim Harrison in the right faceoff circle and he snapped the puck up over the left shoulder of Morrison and the Thunder pulled to within one. Paul Rodrigues also picked up an assist on Harrison’s fifth of the year at 18:05 of the period.
The Thunder finished the period 1-for-2 on the powerplay and Wheeling had two seconds of powerplay time with 1:58 carrying over to the second. Morrison stopped 11 of 12 shots in the first. Fielding stopped eight of ten.
3:35 into the second, Dan Milan fired a shot towards the net that was tipped in front by Ross McMullan and found its way into the net, and the Nailers once again regained a two-goal cushion. Michael Turner picked up an assist on the play, his first point with Wheeling.
Adirondack outshot the Nailers 12-6 in the second. Wheeling was unsuccessful on the only power play of the frame.
Almost six minutes into the third, Reid Gardiner played the puck in front of the net and flipped it past Fielding to put the Nailers ahead 4-1. Kevin Schulze and Chris Francis with the assists.
42 seconds later Brian Ward banked a shot off the Nailers’ Danny Fick and the puck found its way across the line to pull the Thunder back within two. Shane Conacher and Mathieu Brodeur picked up assists on Ward’s ninth of the season.
Troy Josephs and Cam Brown entered 2-on-1 shorthanded and passed the puck back and forth and Brown would pull the puck from left to right around Fielding and tuck the puck between the goalie’s skate and the post to put Wheeling up 5-2.
However, it would be a former Nailer that would pull the visitors back to within two as Ty Loney stuffed a Brodeur rebound past Morrison and the Nailers were back up by 3. Ward also picked up a helper on the goal as the penalty expired three seconds before the puck crossing the goal line.
Gardiner would put this one out of reach for the visitors as he scored a powerplay goal with 2:26 remaining in the game. Sorkin and Brown picked up the helpers on the goal.
Nailers finished the game 1-for-3 on the power play and 2-for-3 on the penalty kill. Morrison stopped 37 of 40 and got the win, improving his record to 5-7-0. Fielding gets his second loss at Wesbanco Arena on the season stopping 22 of 28 shots and his record falls to 7-3-0.
Adirondack returns to action on Friday in Reading. Game time against the Royals is 7:00 inside Santander Arena.
Wheeling’s next contest is a home date with the Norfolk Admirals. The puck drops at 7:05 pm.