NORFOLK, VA- Wheeling Nailers forward Sam Houde had one of the best performances the team has seen in quite some time on Wednesday night at Norfolk Scope Arena. The rookie forward netted a hat trick as part of a six-point night, as the Nailers drubbed the Norfolk Admirals, 7-2. Matt Alfaro also had a sensational contest, as he contributed two goals and two assists.

The Nailers had a phenomenal first period, as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead. The first marker came on the power play. Matt Alfaro gathered in the puck at the right face-off dot, then skated directly toward a defender, who he used as a screen, en route to drilling a shot into the bottom-left corner of the net. With less than five minutes remaining, Wheeling struck again. Cam Hausinger led Sam Houde in on the right side of the offensive zone. Houde left the defense in his dust, then slipped a shot through Beck Warm’s legs. 2:15 later, Houde got the cameras popping for a second time, as he crashed in from left to right, before putting the puck on his backhand and sliding it into the left side of the twine.

Norfolk had an early surge in the middle frame to temporarily trim the margin down to one. Cody Milan put the Admirals on the scoreboard 30 seconds into the period with a breakaway goal, which he slipped in on the right side. Chase Lang followed that with a power play tally at the 9:26 mark, as he danced into the slot and drove a shot into the left side of the goal. Jake Flegel’s fight with Marly Quince helped turn momentum back into Wheeling’s favor, and less than two minutes after that, the visitors regained a two-goal advantage. Alfaro and Houde exchanged a quick give-and-go in center ice, which resulted in Alfaro blazing down the left side of the ice and whipping a shot into the right side of the net.

Similar to the first, the third period was all Nailers. Houde and Alfaro helped to set up Félix Paré, who jammed in a power play goal at the 3:36 mark. A little less than five minutes later, Houde put the exclamation point on his outstanding night, as he received a breakaway pass and buried a shot into the right side of the net for his third goal and sixth point of the contest. Alfaro’s assist gave him a four-point night. Wheeling lit the lamp one final time, as Nick Mangone collected his first ECHL goal by roofing a centering pass from Bobby Hampton for a 7-2 score.

Louis-Philip Guindon backstopped the victory for the Nailers, as he denied 25 of the 27 shots he faced. Beck Warm was the losing netminder for Norfolk, as he allowed seven goals on 35 shots.

The Nailers and Admirals will do battle again in Norfolk on Friday and Saturday.