The Wheeling Nailers played well enough to take a pair of victories home from the Brabham Cup Champion Toledo Walleye, but on Saturday night, the Walleye squared the best-of-seven North Division Semi-Final Series. After Adam Krause opened the scoring for Wheeling, Cody Lampl tied the game in the third, and Troy Schwab provided the heroics in a 2-1 Toledo triumph.
For the second straight game in the series, physicality was the story of the opening period, starting with five penalties in the first 25 seconds. In all, seven power plays were handed out in the first, and the Nailers capitalized on one of them for the first goal of the contest. David Gilbert fished out a loose puck in the trapezoid, feeding a pass to the side of the net, where Adam Krause found just enough daylight to squeeze in his first professional playoff goal. David Makowski also assisted on Krause’s opening marker.
Wheeling maintained the lead all the way until the 7:26 mark of the third period, when a fortunate bounce benefited Toledo. Cody Lampl took a wrist shot from the middle of the blueline, which deflected off of Troy Schwab’s glove and in behind Franky Palazzese. The tying goal was credited to Lampl, with Tyler Barnes and Shane Berschbach drawing assists, ultimately forcing overtime.
The extra session was decided in 1:35, when Berschbach rushed down the left side of the offensive zone, before wrapping a pass around the back of the net to a wide open Schwab, who tapped in the winner for the Walleye for the 2-1 final.
Jeff Lerg got the win for Toledo, stopping 28 of the 29 shots he faced. Franky Palazzese received a difficult defeat, despite denying 26 of the 28 shots sent his way.
The Nailers and Walleye will play the next three games at WesBanco Arena on Wednesday at 7:05, Friday at 7:35, and Saturday at 7:35.