WHEELING - Time and again the Wheeling Nailers turned to Peter Delmas during their playoff run last spring, and he responded. Coming off a loss the previous night in a game they felt got away, the Nailers went to the well once more Saturday night with the same result.
Delmas stopped 33 of 34 shots and Patrick Johnson notched the game-winner - his second goal in as many games - as Wheeling knocked off Trenton by a 2-1 score at WesBanco Arena.
''Delly made some big saves when we needed them, and that's what he's supposed to do,'' Nailers interim coach Clark Donatelli said. ''I'm glad to see he bounced back and had a really good game.''
Wheeling’s Scooter Vaughan eyes the net during Saturday night’s ECHL encounter.
Photo by Joe Lovell
Delmas was at his best at the 5:25 mark of the second period, with Wheeling (13-7-0 - 26) clinging to a 1-0 lead. A turnover in the neutral zone allowed the Titans' Dustin Cameron to break in all alone. He took his time before zeroing in on the top-left corner of the net, only to be turned away when Delmas snapped it out of the air with his glove.
Less than a minute later following a tripping call on Trenton's Corey Syvret, the Nailers made it 2-0. Zach Hansen let go with a slap shot from the right point, and Johnson, who was cutting in front of Titans (9-12-3 - 21) goaltender Dave Caruso, deflected it in the cage for his sixth goal of the season at 15:56.
''We knew we had a lot of shots (Friday) but we needed to get a lot more traffic in front of the net,'' Wheeling forward Zack Torquato said. ''We got the game-winner with Johnson on a nice tip on a great shot.''
Trenton0 1 0 - 1
Wheeling1 1 0 - 2
1st Period-1, Wheeling, Torquato 5 (Bedard, Vaughan), 13:56. Penalties-Hansen Whl (high-sticking), 10:23.
2nd Period-2, Wheeling, Johnson 6 (Hansen, Dame-Malka), 15:56 (PP). 3, Trenton, Syvret 1 (Presizniuk, Germain), 18:53. Penalties-Hansen Whl (slashing ), 8:34; Syvret Tre (tripping), 15:32.
3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Berube Tre (elbowing), 1:01; served by Hayes Tre (bench - too many men), 9:38; Berube Tre (roughing), 9:38; Minella Whl (roughing), 9:38.
Shots on Goal-Trenton 12-10-12-34. Wheeling 21-14-7-42.
Power-Play Opportunities-Trenton 0-2; Wheeling 1-3.
Goalies-Trenton, Caruso 6-8-1-1 (42 shots-40 saves). Wheeling, Delmas 6-3-0-0 (34 shots-33 saves).
Referee-TJ Luxmore (23); Linesmen-Francis Trempe (85), Alex Stagnone (68).
Torquato had given the Nailers a 1-0 lead at 13:56 of the first when he tallied his fifth of the season off assists from Mickael Bedard and Scooter Vaughan. It was a nice cross-ice feed that left Torquato wide open to the right of Caruso, who was down and out on the play.
''It was just a good pass by Bedsie and I was kind of waiting there,'' Torquato said. ''I had a lot of shots (the night before) so I was pretty pumped up to get that one.
''We're starting to click now, which is nice. We struggled a little bit at the beginning, but it seems like every night there's a different line contributing and that's what it takes to be successful.''
One night after throwing 57 shots on net, the Nailers piled on 40 more, but only ended up with two goals each time. Donatelli said that's the way it goes sometimes in the game of hockey.
''It's not like we're sitting here saying 'gee, we're not getting any chances.' We're doing the right things, we're paying attention to detail,'' he said. ''The guys are playing hard and getting a lot of shots. (Friday) night that goalie played really well but at any given time we could have had a bounce here or there.''
The Titans made it interesting when Syvret poked home a rebound at 18:53 of the second, but Delmas made the one-goal cushion stand.
It was a much-needed divisional victory for Wheeling, which is in the midst of a long stretch against Atlantic foes. The Nailers moved percentage points ahead of Elmira and back into first place, and they close out a four-game-in-five-nights run when they travel to Reading and play at 4 today.
''We have to come out and get two points,'' Donatelli said. ''It doesn't make or break the season, but it gives us a good jump start.''
The Nailers improved to 6-4 at home, but are 7-3 on the road. ... With his effort, Delmas dropped his GAA to 2.17. ... Wheeling is 4-2 this season against Trenton.