Almeida the Hero in Wheeling’s First Win of the Season

Countdown To Christmas
December 25 2021 12:00 am

CORALVILLE, IA- The Wheeling Nailers needed a bit of a dramatic ending to secure their first win of their 30th season, and they got that on Wednesday night in their first ever trip to Coralville, Iowa. The Iowa Heartlanders scored with 90 seconds left to force overtime, but in the extra session, Justin Almeida made sure the visitors skated away with the two points, as his left side rip gave the Nailers a 4-3 triumph. Cam Hausinger and Chris Ortiz both scored their first career goals in the victory.

The two squads played to a 1-1 draw in the opening stanza, as the Nailers got on the board first, before Iowa tied things up less than three minutes later. Wheeling’s goal was a special one, as Cam Hausinger lit the lamp for the first time in his pro career, after taking last season off. Justin Almeida dribbled a pass deep on the left side to Hausinger, who chipped a backhander up and over goaltender Hunter Jones. Brett Gravelle was responsible for the equalizer, as he battled his way into the slot, where he ultimately swung a shot into the right side of the net.

The goals were a bit more spread out in the middle frame, and they came in reverse order. The Heartlanders struck at the 6:15 mark to pull ahead, as Jack Billings capitalized on a turnover, then faked to his backhand to shovel in the tally. Wheeling responded with a 4-on-4 strike on another first. Tim Doherty sent Patrick Watling and Chris Ortiz ahead on a 2-on-1 break. Watling feathered a pass across the slot to Ortiz, who snapped in a one-timer from the right side for his first pro goal.

The Nailers poured on the shots to a 19-3 tune during the third period, and with just under seven minutes left, they thought they were in good shape. Tim Doherty snagged the puck at the right face-off dot, and slithered a shot through Jones’ legs. However, with 90 seconds remaining, Iowa sent the contest past regulation. Gravelle collected his second of the night by redirecting a point shot from Fedor Gordeev.

In overtime, Wheeling took its time to gain clean possession, then march ahead to deposit the winning marker. Justin Almeida flew down the left side, and rang a shot in off the crossbar to give the Nailers their first victory of the season, 4-3.

Tommy Nappier picked up the win in goal for Wheeling, as he made 14 saves on 17 shots. Hunter Jones turned aside 39 of the 43 shots he faced in the overtime loss for the Heartlanders.

The Nailers will continue their road trip with another first time stop, when they visit the Kansas City Mavericks on Friday. Wheeling’s first home game is less than two weeks away, as the Nailers will begin their 30th home season against the Fort Wayne Komets on Saturday, November 6th.

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