WHEELING, WV — After falling to Reading on Friday night, the Nailers would avenge that loss with an overtime thriller this evening. Holding a two-goal lead entering the third, Wheeling would allow Reading to force overtime before stashing this one in the win column with a goal just before the midpoint of the extra frame.
Reading once again strike first. Matt Willows skated across the zone from right to left. As he was in the left faceoff circle he passed across the zone to Alex Krushelnyski who fires a one-timer behind Will King. Chris McCarthy also picked up an assist on the goal at 5:33.
Wheeling would not get discouraged as Reading goaltender Mark Dekanich made a point-blank save on Cam Brown. As the team continued to battle the puck made its way to the right-side corner where Brown passed the puck up the wall to Garrett Meurs. He would pass to the right point to Zach Tolkinen who drifted to the center point and fired a slapper that beat Dekanich and tied the game at 14:24 of the first.
As the period was drawing closer to the end, Hunter Fejes and Matt Wilkins found out they didn’t agree with each other and dropped the gloves at 19:18.
Wheeling saw two power plays and was unsuccessful on both. King made 14 stops on 15 shots in the period and Dekanich made 12 stops on the 13 shots he faced.
As the second period began furious pace and chances both ways. After a faceoff following an icing call, Nailers Derek Army wins the faceoff clean to Fejes who slammed it past Dekanich and put the hosts up 2-1 at 4:37. It is the fourth straight game with a goal for Fejes.
Just under four minutes later, Tolkinen would take another shot from the center point that beats Dekanich putting Wheeling ahead 3-1. Assists to Freddie Tiffels and Riley Bourbonnais at 8:30.
Reading’s Loic Leduc fired a tough angle shot at King who made the save. However, the rebound laid right in front of him and Mark Naclerio flipped the puck over King. Adam Schmidt also credited with an assist at 9:18 to make it a one-goal contest.
Just under 3 minutes later Wheeling regained its two-goal lead. Fejes took a shot that was blocked, Brown stepped up and drove the loose puck in from the top of the slot on the right side. Dylan Zink also credited with an assist on the play. With an assist here, Hunter Fejes completed the Gordie Howe hat trick with the goal and fight already having occurred.
At 16:21, after a Meurs penalty, Dan Milan and Leduc dropped the gloves in front of the Reading bench. After breaking up the fight, Army and Naclerio decided to start pushing and shoving earning both roughing minors. While being skated to the penalty box Leduc earned a Category III physical of Officials call which is a game misconduct and his night was finished and Wheeling’s Jeff Taylor was given a game misconduct for returning to the ice/bench. Not sure what exactly Taylor did to earn the game misconduct because no minor was assessed for leaving the bench to start or become involved in an altercation. The only part of the rule that may apply here is if Taylor was taken to the penalty box and then left the box without the permission of an on-ice official. (Rule 70.6)
Wheeling would kill the Meurs penalty and the period would end with Wheeling ahead 4-2. The Nailers took 13 shots on goal and got two past Dekanich while the Royals also sent 13 shots at King finding the twine with one of them. Wheeling was 0-for-1 in the period on the man advantage and 0-for-3 in the contest. Reading started the third with 1:29 of penalty time remaining on a Tolkinen tripping minor.
Just past the midpoint of the third period Naclerio got a shot past King to pull the visitors to within one. His initial shot hit the apron of the goal, but he got the rebound back and shoveled it past King. Willows and Steven Swavely awarded assists on the play at 10:48.
Just 16 seconds later, Reading would tie the game on a fluke goal by McCarthy. King made the stop on the shot, the rebound going up in the air. In his attempt to swipe the puck away from the net Ross McMullan knocked the puck into the net. Krushelnyski and Swavely picked up helpers at 11:04.
Wheeling had successfully killed the carryover penalty time to start the period and finished regulation 2-for-2 on the penalty kill. No penalties were called in the third. Reading fired 14 shots at King who made 12 stops in the final frame of regulation. Wheeling forced Dekanich to make six saves in the third period.
Just over 2 minutes into overtime, Dekanich would attempt to clear the puck. Meurs would intercept the attempt skates toward the net from the top of the left faceoff circle and beats Dekanich low stick side for the unassisted game-winner 2:10 into the extra session.
Dekanich finished the night with 28 saves on 33 shots. His record falls to 5-4-1-0 on the season. King made 39 saves on 43 shots and improved his record to 2-1-1-0 on the season. Fejes awarded the number one star of the game with Meurs earning the second and Reading’s Naclerio picking up the third star.
Wheeling next contest is tomorrow afternoon as they welcome Fort Wayne for a 3:05 contest. Family fun day and Pups and Pucks day. Also, a post-game skate with the team (even numbered players)
Reading’s next game is this Wednesday at Santander Arena in Reading, as the Nailers will come calling once again in the fourth of six games between the two over 21 days.