For the fourth time this season, the Wheeling Nailers won five consecutive games. Unfortunately, for the fourth time this season, they were unable to make it six. On Saturday night, the Greenville Road Warriors scored six straight goals, led by Justin Vaive's four-point performance (2G, 2A), taking a 7-3 victory in game one of the Eastern Conference Semifinal Series.
The first period opened with furious action, as the two teams combined for three goals, four penalties, and 16 shots. Greenville was the first team to strike, as it connected at the 6:09 mark. Michael St. Croix centered a pass from the left corner, hooking up with Andrew Rowe, who slammed in a one-timer from the right side of the slot. With 2:26 remaining in the frame, the Nailers drew even. In his first game back in the lineup, Zack Torquato led Tom Kuhnhackl in on the left side of the offensive zone. Kuhnhackl teed up a slap shot, launching it into the right side of the cage. Unfortunately, with 39 seconds to go, the Road Warriors regained the lead, as Andrew Yogan picked the top-right corner of the net from just outside of the crease.
The visitors continued their success in the middle frame, lighting the lamp on three occasions. Justin Vaive scoed the third Greenville goal of the game at the 3:07 mark, when he slammed a shot in on the left side of the net. Later in the frame, the Road Warriors worked their power play to success for the second time on the evening, when Kyle Jean picked off a clearing attempt, before picking the top-right corner with his third tally of the postseason. 1:12 after that, Vaive found the twine for the second time in the period, as he finished off a centering pass by Scott Arnold, beating Mike Condon on his stick side.
Greenville salted the game away with two more markers in the third, as Emerson Clark wheeled his way through the slot with a left side shot for the sixth goal, before Sean Berkstresser tapped in the rebound of Samuel Noreau's initial shot for a 7-1 advantage. Tom Kuhnhackl's second goal of the game and Christiaan Minella's third marker of the postseason wrapped up the scoring for Wheeling in a 7-3 win for the Road Warriors.
Jason Missiaen was the winning goaltender for Greenville, as he made 32 saves on 35 shots. Mike Condon took the loss for the Nailers, stopping 16 shots.
The Nailers and Road Warriors will play game two of their best-of-seven series at 6:00 on Sunday in Wheeling