Rookies Make Game 2,000 Memorable for Nailers


WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers had lots to celebrate on Friday night at WesBanco Arena, as they played their 2,000th game in team history against the Utah Grizzlies. Nick Rivera and Matt Miller both netted the first goals of their professional careers to break a 2-2 deadlock, as Wheeling erased an early two-goal deficit and rallied back with five straight strikes to win the game, 5-2.

The Grizzlies used special teams to their advantage, as their potted a pair of goals in the first period. The first tally came at the 3:59 mark with some quick puck movement. Riley Woods played the puck to A.J. White along the goal line, who quickly swatted pass through the slot for Pat Cannone, who deposited a one-timer from the bottom of the left circle. Goal number two came one second after a Wheeling penalty expired, as Cedric Paré connected with Matthew Boucher, who zipped in a wrist shot from the bottom of the left circle.

Late in the middle frame, the Nailers got things rolling to tie the contest, starting with a great performance on the penalty kill. 47 seconds after the kill, Matt Alfaro swiped the puck away at his own blueline, then skated the distance into the left circle, where he buried a wrist shot into the right side of the net. 23 seconds later, Austin Fyten knotted things up by roofing a feed from Sean Josling at the left face-off dot.

Wheeling carried the momentum into the third period in a big way, as it scored three times, while outshooting Utah, 12-4. The go-ahead goal came at the 1:42 mark, when Nick Rivera made a marvelous steal at the offensive blueline, then drove into the left side of the offensive zone, where wired his first pro goal into the right side of the cage. 4:08 later, a couple of other rookies combined for a memorable moment, as Vladislav Mikhalchuk’s first pro point was a beautiful cross-crease pass, which was slam dunked in by Matt Miller for his first pro goal. Cody Sylvester put the icing on the cake in game 2,000 with an empty netter for the 5-2 Nailers triumph.

François Brassard earned the victory in goal for Wheeling, as he denied 24 of the 26 shots he faced, including all 19 in the final two periods. Kevin Carr took the loss for the Grizzlies, as he allowed four goals on 25 shots.

The Nailers and Grizzlies will continue their weekend series on Saturday and Sunday.

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