WHEELING, WV- Nailers scored twice on three powerplay opportunities, continuing to show speed and offensive ability as they swept the weekend preseason pair with Cincinnati.
It wouldn’t take as long as it did Friday to dent the scoreboard. Mitch Vandergunst would find Hunter Fejes in the right side of the slot and Fejes would fire a perfectly placed one-time pass past Jonas Johansson to give the host a 1-0 lead just 3:45 into the contest. Cam Brown would also assist on the goal.
The Nailers would extend the lead just under two minutes later. Cody Wydo would start the play with a quick pass to Alexandre Carrier who would skate down the left side of the zone. Nailers had numbers as they entered the zone. He would try to pass into the slot. A Cincinnati player made a great play to deny the pass. However, Carrier would follow the puck and fire it past Johansson to take the 2-0 lead at 5:32.
Just like in Friday’s game, the Nailers would allow Cincinnati to score before the end of the period. A quick pass to Mike Barrett at the bottom of the left faceoff dot would allow him to lift the puck just inside the post and under the crossbar over the glove of Nailer goalie Colin Stevens to pull the visitors within one with eight minutes left in the opening period. Nick Neville and Ray Pigozzi credited with the assists.
The teams would head to the dressing room with the score 2-1 Wheeling and shots were 15-8 in favor of the hosts.
It would be Cincinnati to light the lamp next. Stevens left the crease to play the puck behind the net, however, the dump in took a funny hop and rolled toward the slot in front of the net where Stephen Pietrobon would push it past a diving Stevens to tie the game at the 11:20 mark of period two. Assisting on the goal was Neville.
Just over a minute later with Cincinnati’s Rob De Fulviis in the box for tripping and the Nailers would regain the lead. Brown would tee up a shot-pass from the right faceoff dot that would deflect off of Pigozzi’s skate and past Johansson to give the Nailers the 3-2 lead. Jake Bolton and Reid Gardiner would be credited with assists on the powerplay maker at 12:46. The second period would end with that score and Johansson’s night would finish as Jason Kasdorf would play the third. Johansson would end with 23 saves on 26 shots in 40 minutes of ice time.
Just three-and-a-half minutes into the final period, Vandergunst would pass from in front of the Nailer bench to Wydo who was just on the neutral side of the offensive blueline. As he skated into the zone, he would fire a shot that beat Kasdorf to the glove side and give the Nailers a 4-2 cushion. Zach Tolkinen would pick up an assist on the play.
After the goal, Will King would enter the game in goal for the Nailers. Stevens finished his night with 16 saves on 18 shots.
Cincinnati would again make it a one-goal game when Austin Block stole the puck from King behind the net and dished it to Jordan Henderson who would fire it five-hole past the sliding Wheeling netminder.
At 13:09 Wheeling would once again extend the lead to two. With the Nailers on the powerplay, it would again be a funny bounce in the offensive zone that finds the back of the net. Wydo looked to center the puck to Daniel Leavens, but the puck would hit Neville’s skate and past Kasdorf into the goal. Brown and Gardiner would get the assists.
With the goalie pulled for the extra attacker in the final two minutes, Cincinnati would pull to within one. Dominic Zombo would pass to Andrew Radjenovic who would fire the one-timer past King on the blocker side. That was as close as the Cyclones would get as King and the Nailers defense would keep the puck out the final 1:43 after the Radjenovic marker.
King would pick up the win making six saves on eight shots, Kasdorf takes the loss, stopping nine of 11 Nailers’ chances. Cincinnati went 0-for-1 on the powerplay, while Wheeling would finish 2-for-3. The Nailers outshot the Cyclones 37-27 for the game.
Wheeling will head to Greenville, SC to start the regular season on Friday night for the first of a pair with the Swamp Rabbits before returning home on Oct. 21 to open the home portion of the regular season with a visit from the Cyclones.
Cincinnati will head will start the season at home in the Queen City with a visit from the Kalamazoo Wings on Saturday, before returning to Wesbanco Arena one week later.
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