WHEELING, WV- In a nonconference rivalry, bragging rights outweigh everything. Since being separated two years ago, the Nailers and Walleye continue to play a high number of games due to proximity. Lately Toledo has had the upper hand in terms of the season series as well as post-season meetings eliminating Wheeling in seven games in 2015. The Nailers came into tonight looking for a third win against the foe from Northwest Ohio, to guarantee at lease a split of the season series. Things didn’t start well for the hosts, got better then fell apart again in a see-saw second period.
To open things up it was Erik Bradford who played a puck off the wall and passed it out to Ryan Obuchowski near the left point. Obuchowski fired the puck at the goal and beat Nailers goalie Will King high to the stick side and put the hosts up 1-0 at 3:29 of the first. Austen Brassard also given an assist.
After serving a slashing penalty, Mike Borkowski gets a drop pass from Obuchowski and fires the puck past King for his 11th goal of the season. Time of the goal was 18:10 of the first as the Walleye took a 2-0 lead.
The Nailers finished the period 0-1 on the power play and killed two penalties. King stopped 4 of the 6 shots he faced while Pat Nagle stopped all 12 first period Wheeling shots.
Just as fans were getting back to their seats for the second period, Bradford tips an Obuchowski shot into the air and into the net behind King and Toledo jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Charlie O’Connor would also pick up a helper on Bradford’s ninth at 0:16 of the second.
Just over two minutes later the hosts solved Nagle. A shot from Kevin Schulze got tipped and found its way to Troy Josephs who pushed it five-hole past Nagle and it was 3-1 in favor of Toledo. The goal was Josephs’ fourth of the season and Nick Sorkin picked up an assist on the goal.
56 seconds later, Wheeling pulled to within one as Cam Brown started the play in Gretzky’s office behind the net. He saw Danny Fick at the left point and gave him a pass. Fick one-timed it, Nagle got the initial shot, but it squirted through him and Hunter Fejes was able to push it into the net. 3:27 the time on Fejes’ team-leading 16th of the season.
Before the period ended Wheeling pulled even. Josephs would pass out to Fejes and Hunter threw it to the net. A pile followed in front and Riley Bourbonnais would find the puck and flip it past Nagle for his sixth of the season at 16:58.
Keeping the crowd into the game, Jeremy Beirnes and Daniel Gentzler wished each other a happy new year dropping the gloves at 19:03.
But Toledo would grab the lead with a final minute goal. Shane Berschbach fired a shot from the outer edge of the right faceoff circle, King slowed the puck, but it was able to trickle across the goal line to give Toledo the 4-3 lead at 19:11.
The Walleye weren’t done in the period. Borkowski skated down the left side of the zone and snapped a shot at King. The puck got past King rang off the post and into the net to put the visitors up 5-3 at 19:49.
No power plays for either side in the second. Nailers fired 19 shots in the second while Toledo got 11 shots.
Wheeling would start to mount some pressure in the third as Brown netted his sixth of the season at 12:36 off the rebound of a Jaynen Rissling shot from the slot. Schulze center the puck to Rissling high in the slot. Rissling moved toward the goal avoiding one defender and snapped a shot. Nagle made the save on Rissling, but the rebound went straight to Brown who wristed the shot past Nagle. And Wheeling was back within a goal. But that was as close as they could get as Nagle stood tall and turned them away.
The Nailers fired ten shots in the third while King stopped the seven he saw. Nagle improved his record to 16-2-0-1 on the year making 37 saves on 41 shots. King’s record falls to 4-3-1-0 after making 19 saves on 24 shots. Wheeling finished the game 0-for-1 on the man advantage, Toledo 0-for-2. Borkowski named the number one star of the game with Obuchowski and Fejes the second and third stars.
Wheeling will return to Wesbanco Arena ice, this afternoon at 6:05 as they look to close out calendar 2017 on a high note. The Indy Fuel will be their opponent.
Toledo will be in Fort Wayne, Indiana tonight to battle the Komets. Faceoff is set for 7:30 pm.