The Wheeling Nailers put together a solid push in the third period of Wednesday night’s game against the Toledo Walleye, but unfortunately, the story ended up being too little, too late. Toledo jumped out to a 3-0 lead, then held on, despite goals by David Gilbert and Sahir Gill, as it defeated the Nailers, 3-2 at WesBanco Arena.
After a scoreless opening stanza which featured 30 combined shots on goal, the Walleye ultimately broke the deadlock at the 8:19 mark of the second period. Kyle Rogers tossed the puck toward the net from the right point, connecting with Justin Daniels, who took advantage of a tap-in opportunity on the left side of the crease. Toledo added to its lead later in the frame, after fending off a couple of excellent chances by the Nailers. Scott Czarnowczan flew a pass into center ice, springing Tyler Barnes on a breakaway. Despite being pressured from behind, Barnes stayed strong on his stick, using a one-handed backhander to flick the puck into the left side of the net.
The Walleye struck again at the 3:17 mark of the third period, when AJ Jenks scored on a wrist shot from the left side of the slot. At that point, Clark Donatelli made a goaltending change, inserting rookie Brandon Whitney. That move ended up rallying his squad, who responded with two goals in quick succession. The first tally came off of a 2-on-1 rush, which was started by Sahir Gill’s floating pass on the left side. Chaz Johnson charged into the zone, sliding a pass over to David Gilbert, who rifled in a one-timer from the right side of the slot. 1:43 later, it was Gill doing the damage with the goal, as he rushed into the right circle, finding paydirt with a backhander. Riley Brace and Derek Army collected the assists. Toledo’s defense took over from that point, including tying up the puck in the defensive corner for the final 18.7 seconds of the third period, as the Walleye completed their 3-2 win.
Jeff Lerg was the winning goaltender for Toledo, as he made 28 saves on 30 shots. Eric Hartzell took the loss for Wheeling, despite turning aside 30 of the 33 shots he faced. Brandon Whitney made a brief relief appearance for his professional debut, making one save in 2:34 of action.
The Nailers will continue their four-game homestand on Friday night at 7:35 p.m. against the Fort Wayne Komets.