Palazzese, Lerg Star in Goalie Dual at Huntington Center


 There is no questioning who the two star players were at Huntington Center on Friday night, as the Wheeling Nailers and Toledo Walleye met for the first time since last April’s epic playoff series. Franky Palazzese and Jeff Lerg combined to shut down 69 of 71 shots by the respective clubs, leading to a 1-1 deadlock through regulation and overtime. AJ Jenks settled the game in the first round of the shootout, as the Walleye came away with the bonus point in a 2-1 win.

After a scoreless first period, the Nailers appeared to open the scoring in the early stages of the middle frame. Mickael Beauregard threw in a wrist shot from the right point, which found the back of the net, but the goal was called off due to Jeff Lerg being interfered with, thus unable to play his position to make an attempt at a save. Moments later, Toledo got on the scoreboard. Austin Wuthrich took a wrist shot from the inner edge of the right circle, lifting it over Franky Palazzese’s glove. Ralfs Freibergs also assisted on the Teddy Bear Toss Goal for the Walleye.

Wheeling rallied back to get the equalizer at the 7:07 mark of the third period, while playing on the man advantage. Ty Loney and Mathew Maione played catch at the blueline, with Maione ultimately steering a shot on goal from the center point. Lerg made the save, but the rebound was slipped into the cage by Riley Brace for his ninth marker of the year.

The score remained tied through the rest of the third, as well as through overtime, which featured nine combined shots on goal – five for Toledo and four for Wheeling. After a Nailers miss, AJ Jenks scored in the first round of the shootout for the Walleye, which turned out to be the only time the red light went on, as the visitors proceeded to be unsuccessful on their next two tries.

Both goaltenders were magnificent in earning their teams at least one point. Jeff Lerg stopped 33 of 34 shots, including two breakaways in overtime, while Franky Palazzese turned aside 36 of the 37 shots he faced, including five overtime denials.


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