Third periods tended to be magical for the Wheeling Nailers during the 2013-14 season, and on Friday night, the 2014-15 squad wrote a similar script. After falling behind 3-2 in the third period, the Nailers rallied with three goals, including a shorthanded marker by Derek Army, completing a 5-3 comeback victory. Army had two goals and an assist, while Jeff Wyer stopped 19 of 20 shots in goal.
The Nailers wasted little time in opening the scoring, as they tallied the first marker just 1:37 into the contest. Tyler Fernandez and Derek Army battled for a loose puck in the left corner, with Army ultimately driving a shot on goal from the left circle. Cincinnati net minder Sam Brittain made the initial save, but the rebound deflected out to Stefano Momesso, who found the left side of the cage.
The middle frame started in similar fashion to the first, with Wheeling striking at the 1:27 mark. Fernandez led Army into the offensive zone, before Army’s creativity led to the goal. The rookie forward carried the puck on his backhand, lifting a shot over Brittain’s glove, putting the home team ahead, 2-0. However, the Cyclones battled back, tallying twice in a span of 2:01 to knot the game at two. David Pacan stormed through the defense, beating Franky Palazzese with a wrist shot, before Brian Nugent connected for the equalizer, picking the top-right corner from the left circle.
Cincinnati used a shorthanded goal to earn its first lead of the evening at the 14-second mark of the third period. Pacan won the face-off ahead to Nugent, who slipped a backhander through Jeff Wyer’s legs. The Nailers bounced back to tie the game 4:27 later, thanks to an alert play by Jarrett Burton. Justin Baker’s point shot glanced off of Burton, who quickly found the loose puck, flipping in a backhander to even the score at three. With 4:03 left in regulation, Army put Wheeling back on top. Myles Harvey’s lead pass set up his college teammate, who went to his backhand, roofing the eventual game winning goal. Chaz Johnson added an empty netter for at 5-3 Nailers triumph.
Jeff Wyer stopped 19 of the 20 shots he faced in relief, earning the victory in goal for Wheeling. Joe Howe took the loss for Cincinnati, surrendering two goals on seven shots. Franky Palazzese of the Nailers made 14 saves on 16 shots, while Sam Brittain turned away 13 of 15 shots for the Cyclones, as the two starting netminders.
The Nailers and Cyclones will meet again in Wheeling on Sunday afternoon at 5:05 p.m. .