Nailers storm back to prevail in overtime, 6-5
WHEELING — Cam Brown played the hero on Superhero Night at WesBanco Arena.
After rallying and tying the game with a goal with 4:21 left in the game, Brown sent the Nailers fans home happy with the game-winner in overtime as Wheeling — with the Batman logo on its jerseys — defeated division foe Fort Wayne 6-5 on Sunday.
Wheeling trailed 4-1 early in the second period before roaring back for its first overtime victory in three tries this year.
“It has been a group that is really resilient,” Nailers coach Mike Bavis said. “We’ve had some games where we’ve had to come back and they’ve made plays. It’s nice to do it against a team as talented as this.”
Brown knotted the contest as he raced down the slot and knocked home a rebound and he ended the game 1:29 into the extra period as he took a pass from former Komet Marc-Olivier Duquette, deked to the right and back to the left, slipping the puck behind Fort Wayne netminder Dylan Ferguson.
“It’s exciting,” Brown said. “They kind of just turned the puck over and I laid in the weeds a little bit. (Duquette) made a really nice pass and I was fortunate to score one.
“Especially, since we had two overtimes early in the year that went the other way, so that one felt pretty good.”
It was Brown’s sixth goal of the season. He also delivered a pair of assists in the win.
“He’s really working hard and making plays,” Bavis said. “But to see him get rewarded and to see his line have so much success on the scoreboard (Sunday) was a big lift for our team.
“They’ve had their chances and to see it all come together (Sunday) was great.”
The Nailers made the comeback possible by going 3-for-3 on penalty kills against the Komets, who are the top power play scoring team in the ECHL, cashing in on 27.5 percent of their chances.
“It’s been really sound,” Bavis said of his team’s penalty kill. “It’s just really aware of what their roles are and what their routes are and really good with their sticks getting in shooting lanes and collapsing down to the net.
“Goaltending has been really solid through penalty kill, too. I’m really happy with it.”
Wheeling took a quick lead in the first as rookie Jan Drozg laced a shot from the left circle and into the back of the net less than four minutes into the action.
That was followed up by four straight Komets goals, including two within the final 2:36 of the first period and one just 2:18 into the second.
The Nailers recovered as Drozg netted his second of the game and his team-leading eighth of the season to cut the lead to 4-2.
Nick Minerva got into the action, too, as he recorded his first goal in the ECHL.
The net was knocked out of place on the play but after review, it was ruled a Fort Wayne player made contact with the net and the goal was confirmed.
It was the first of two reviewed goals in the game.
Shawn St-Amant tallied his second goal of the game to give the Komets some breathing room at 5-3 entering the final frame, but Myles Powell kick-started the Nailers again as a pass was deflected off his skate and in. It was also reviewed and confirmed a goal before Brown supplied the equalizer.
Despite Fort Wayne leading the ECHL in goals scored (61) entering the game, Wheeling showed no signs of panic after falling behind early.
“That team is so explosive,” Bavis said of Fort Wayne. “We thought we played well and had some good scoring chances but had a couple breakdowns. We felt like we just had to stick with it and chip away at it.
“Then, we gave them a chance to go up by two at the end of the second and it was really the same message. Just try to find a way to get the next goal.”
The Nailers return to home ice on Tuesday morning at 10:45 a.m. against division leader Cincinnati for Education Day.