WHEELING, Wv.- With a packed house and the Stanley Cup in Wheeling, the Nailers looked to pull into a tie with Reading for third in the ECHL’s North Division. After a thrilling come from behind victory in overtime the night prior, the Nailers looked to build off the back to back victories and sweep the homestand.
On an offensive rush, Reid Gardiner fired a shot that was stopped by Branden Komm. Cody Wydo found the rebound and fired it into the net. Nick Sorkin also assisting on Wydo’s 25th of the season.
Another goal from Reading’s top line would pull the visitors even at one. Frank Hora fired a shot toward Nailer goaltender Danny Tirone. Tirone made the save with the rebound going to Matt Wilkins and he shot it into the opposite corner at 7:14. Chris McCarthy picked up his 26th assist on the play.
Reading would get the lead just 1:50 later. Matt Willows skated with it into the left circle and sent a shot off the left post and into the net. McCarthy picked up the only assist on the play.
Some great puck movement led to Reading gaining a two-goal advantage. Steven Swavely passed from behind the net to Michael Huntebrinker who flipped the puck into the top right corner and a powerplay goal at 7:07. Tyler Brown who sent the puck behind the net, before Swavely and Huntebrinker passed the puck back and forth before the goal, also picked up a helper.
Just passed the midpoint of the McCarthy took a shot from the left point, Willows getting a piece of it on the way to send it passed Tirone. Chase Golightly also picked up an assist at 12:23.
At 14:45 the Royals would make the lead four. Adam Schmidt brought the puck from behind the net. The wrap around attempt would bank off a Nailer defenseman and into the back of the net. Swavely and Nolan Zajac assisting on the goal.
With a powerplay chance late in the second period, the Nailers were able to get the game back to a three-goal game. Sorkin sent the puck to the front of the net and Troy Josephs was able to drag the puck between his legs and get it passed Komm. Jerry Lasko picked up his first point with the Nailers on the play as he was credited with the secondary assist at 17:13
As Wheeling was fighting to get back into the game, Huntebrinker would put the game fully out of reach. As a Nailer player skated the puck behind the Wheeling net, he attempted a backhand pass that was intercepted in the slot by Huntebrinker who snapped a shot passed Adam Morrison, who took over in net at the start of the third period, to give Reading a 6-2 lead. The goal was unassisted at 12:31 of the final frame.
Wheeling would get another score but get no closer. On the fourth powerplay of the evening for the hosts Garrett Meurs had possession in the left faceoff circle. He passed below the goal line to Chris Francis who returned the pass as Meurs was going to goal and Meurs flipped the puck over Komm?s left shoulder and into the back of the net.
Komm would finish the night with 24 saves in 27 shots against in the win, improving to 14-8-3-0. Tirone, who was making his professional debut, stopped 18 of 23 in forty minutes and suffered the loss, falling to 0-1-0-0. Morrison came on in relief and stopped 12 of 13 in 20 minutes. Reading was successful once on five powerplay opportunities and Wheeling was successful on two of four. With two goals on the night, and four in the two-game set, Wilkins was named the number one star of the game. McCarthy’s three-point effort netted him the number two star and Wheeling’s Sorkin named the number three with two assists on the night for the hosts.
The Royals will return to action on Wednesday at home as the Fort Wayne Komets come calling. Face off from Santander Arena is set for 7pm
Wheeling’s next contest is Friday evening in Worcester, MA. Game time from DCU Center is 7:05pm as Wheeling looks to build on what is a 10-point advantage in the standing going into Sunday?s games.
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