WHEELING - There are nights in hockey when you simply must tip your hat to the opposing goaltender and say 'nice job, buddy.' Friday night was one of those for the Wheeling Nailers.
Fresh off being sent down from Providence of the American Hockey League, Michael Hutchinson turned away 40 of the 42 shots he faced to lead the Reading Royals to a 4-2 victory against the Nailers at WesBanco Arena.
Wheeling (22-15-3- 47) missed out on a chance to cut idle Elmira's Atlantic Division lead to four points, but it wasn't for a lack of effort. The Nailers outshot the Royals in all three periods, including 22-3 in the third. Ironically enough, Reading (17-18-6 - 40) scored on two of those three shots to earn a victory.
Wheeling’s Adam Ross (25) and Reading’s John Scrymgeour (25) battle for the puck Friday.
Photo by Joe Lovell
''He played a really good third period for them,'' interim Wheeling coach Clark Donatelli said of Hutchinson. ''Their goalie made big saves when he had to.
''Give him credit.''
Things got heated with 11:29 left in the third when what appeared to be an elbow to the head by Olivier Labelle sent Wheeling's Matt Lombardi into the stanchion between the benches. Ryan Schnell charged onto the ice - legally on a line change - and skated briskly into the direction of Labelle. The scrum eventually ended up in front of the Nailers bench where Schnell appeared to have speared Labelle in the midsection and was called for just that and was given a four-minute minor and a 10-minute misconduct.
Reading1 1 2 - 4
Wheeling1 1 0 - 2
1st Period-1, Reading, Schepke 8 (Haines, Macias), 11:58. 2, Wheeling, Barton 22 (Crowder, Southorn), 17:10 (PP). Penalties-Bedard Whl (holding), 5:36; Crowder Whl (high-sticking), 7:06; Griffith Rea (interference), 16:21.
2nd Period-3, Reading, Macias 5 (Tifu, Griffith), 2:50. 4, Wheeling, Lenes 14 (Petersen, Hotham), 7:46. Penalties-Southorn Whl (roughing), 5:34.
3rd Period-5, Reading, Haines 6 (Schepke, Mitchell), 9:58. 6, Reading, Sheen 5 18:27 (EN). Penalties-Button Rea (roughing), 4:11; Schnell Whl (roughing), 4:11; Schnell Whl (spearing (attempt, misconduct) double, misconduct), 11:29; Ryan Rea (roughing), 13:35.
Shots on Goal-Reading 8-8-3-19. Wheeling 9-11-22-42.
Power-Play Opportunities-Reading 0-5; Wheeling 1-2.
Goalies-Reading, Hutchinson 1-0-0-0 (42 shots-40 saves). Wheeling, Delmas 9-6-0-0 (18 shots-15 saves).
Referee-Jon McIsaac (6); Linesmen-Ray King (39), Zach Roberts (84).
The league ''should look at it,'' Donatelli said. ''I thought it was an elbow and (the ref) didn't see it and thought it was a good hit.
''As far as Schneller goes, he's got a reputation of being a tough guy and he is a good, hard-nosed, tough player. He's gotta (learn) when the play's dead, it's over.
''That's his job when he goes out there.''
As far as hockey goes, the Royals struck first when Corey Haines made a nice move around a Wheeling defender at the blueline and threw a pass into the slot to Matt Schepke, who deposited his eighth of the season behind Nailers goaltender Peter Delmas at 11:58 of the first.
More than six minutes later with Wheeling on its only real power play of the night - it had another for 30 seconds in the third period - Chris Barton fired off a one-timer in the left slot that beat Hutchinson for his team-leading 22nd goal of the season. Paul Crowder and Jordon Southorn earned the assists.
Ray Macias picked up a rebound 2:50 into the second and put it in the net for his fifth of the season to make it 2-1 before the Nailers responded again.
Hutchinson was down and Nick Petersen ripped off a shot from the left circle that would have gone through the blue paint in the air, but it was deflected in by Peter Lenes. It was Lenes' 14th of the season at 7:46, and Andrew Hotham added the secondary helper.
Petersen, who had his second consecutive strong game since being sent down from Wilkes-Barre, said facing Hutchinson was a different experience.
''It's a little different with the righty glove,'' he said. ''We were just trying to get pucks on the net and see what happens.
''I think we had a good amount of shots - 42.''
Haines provided the game-winner, which was his sixth of the season, at 9:58 of the third period when he beat Delmas (18 shots, 15 saves). Schepke and Dale Mitchell assisted.
''I was talking to someone and just caught their last goal out of the corner of my eye,'' Donatelli said. ''We've got to pick guys up in front - it was kind of point-blank right there.
''I thought Delly played solid. He's smooth and he's got his confidence.''
Reading added an empty-netter at 18:27 as Everett Sheen slowly slid the puck from his own end and into the net, just barely out of the reach of Barton who hustled back in an attempt to keep it out.
Coming off a two-goal performance his last time out, Wheeling forward Denver Manderson was scratched with a sore shoulder. Donatelli said he's day-to-day. ... Macias had 10 points entering the game - three against Wheeling - and added two more. ... Patrick Killeen will be in the Nailers goal at 7:35 tonight when they welcome Kalamazoo to WesBanco Arena.