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Fort Wayne takes down Nailers

Photo by Joe Lovell Wheeling’s Matthew Quercia (13) battles Fort Wayne’s Xavier Cormier (90) for possession of the puck during the first period of Friday night’s game inside WesBanco Arena. The Nailers’ Thimo Nickl (82) also battles, while goaltender Jaxon Castor and the Komets’ Shawn Szydlowski (27) look on.

WHEELING — Friday night featured a lot of different emotions at WesBanco Arena, as the Wheeling Nailers tangled with the Fort Wayne Komets. The home crowd was ecstatic early on, as Shaw Boomhower beat Daniel Amesbury in a fight and the Nailers built a 2-0 lead. However, those feelings turned the other way in the third period, as the Komets scored a power-play goal with 8:33 to go, and ultimately went on to the 5-3 road victory. Tanner Laderoute, Matthew Quercia, and Sebastian Dirven were the Wheeling goal scorers.

There was tons of action in the first period, which started with the main event — a fight between Boomhower and Amesbury. Both players fired the rights, and Boomhower ended up with the victory. That gave Wheeling loads of energy, and the home team opened the scoring 47 seconds later. Jordan Frasca sent the puck toward the crease, where Laderoute got a redirection to touch it into the right side of the cage. The Nailers struck again at the 8:43 mark, when Quercia cut across the high slot, and roofed a wrist shot against the grain, into the top-right corner of the goal. Fort Wayne answered back with two strikes in a span of 22 seconds. Marc-Antoine Pepin tipped in a netmouth feed from Jake Chiasson, then Jack Dugan wound a forehand shot around Jaxon Castor’s right pad, after flying down the ice.

Both teams found the twine in the middle frame, and they did so in reverse order from the first. Alexis D’Aoust put the Komets in the lead at the 8:28 mark, when he crashed down the middle of the offensive zone and willed the puck in on the right side. Wheeling answered with 4:25 to go. After playing 15 straight games at forward, Dirven returned to the blueline, and brought that offensive touch with him, as he saucered in a wrist shot from the top of the left circle.

During a stoppage with 10:15 remaining, Boomhower received a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, which gave Fort Wayne a surprising power play, given the fact that the score was tied with little time left on the clock. The Komets converted on their chance, as Jordan De Jong popped in a wrist shot from the right circle to put his squad in front. The Nailers got a power play of their own with 1:35 left, but Nolan Volcan’s shorthanded empty netter put the finishing touches on a 5-3 decision for Fort Wayne.

Tyler Parks got the win for the Komets, as he made 25 saves on 28 shots. Castor suffered the defeat for Wheeling, as he stopped 21 of the 25 shots he faced.

The Nailers will continue their three-game homestand on Saturday night, when they welcome the Kalamazoo Wings to town for a 7:10 p.m. contest. The promotion is Country Night, highlighted by Jason Michael Carroll’s post game concert. Wheeling and Kalamazoo will also battle on Sunday at 4:10. That game will feature a Screen Time Sunday in which one lucky fan will win a free TV courtesy of Walmart, a post game skate with even-numbered players, and $2 sundaes will be available for kids at Flurry’s.

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