ELMIRA, N.Y. - The Wheeling Nailers have let more than a few chances to climb back into the race for the top spot in the Atlantic Division slip through their fingers. The club had been knocking on Elmira's door the last couple of weeks, but kicked it open Wednesday night at First Arena.
Peter Delmas allowed the game's first goal but not another en route to a 29-save performance as the Nailers (24-16-3 - 51) skated to a 4-1 victory against the Jackals (26-15-2 - 54). The two teams meet again Friday night at WesBanco Arena, with Elmira's lead cut to three points.
The offensive star of the night was an unusual one in the form of defenseman Adam Ross. He had a pair of assists - his first multi-point game since being acquired in a trade - as the Nailers improved to 3-2-2 against the Jackals this season.
Elmira's Rod Bellamy opened the scoring when he split a pair of Wheeling defenders and notched his fifth of the season at 12:21 of the first. But that lead lasted all of 46 seconds as Paul Crowder deflected a Ross point shot past Jackals goaltender Brian Stewart for his 11th. Cody Chupp had the secondary assist
A little more than seven minutes later the Nailers took the lead for good when Zack Torquato, who had one of his best all-around games as a Nailer, deflected a Ross wrist shot from high in the mid-slot into the net for his ninth of the season. Chris Barton added a helper.
Wheeling scored the only goal in the second period when Denver Manderson sped down the left side, stopped on a dime and fired from the low circle. Stewart made the save but the rebound was sitting in the slot where Ben Farrer picked it up and backhanded his seventh of the season into the goal. Andrew Hotham added the secondary assist for his fifth point in two games.
The Nailers had a pair of chances to put it away with third-period power plays, but didn't get the fourth goal until Peter Lenes scored into a empty net (Barton assisted) at 19:22 for his 17th of the season, and 10th since being acquired from Trenton along with defenseman Jordan Southorn.
Wheeling interim coach Clark Donatelli talked prior to the game of the need for his club staying out of the box, and away from the Jackals' explosive power play. Elmira only had one such opportunity, and did not convert.
Wheeling2 1 1 - 4
Elmira1 0 0 - 1
1st Period-1, Elmira, Bellamy 5 12:21. 2, Wheeling, Crowder 11 (Chupp, Ross), 13:07. 3, Wheeling, Torquato 9 (Ross, Barton), 16:41. Penalties-No Penalties
2nd Period-4, Wheeling, Farrer 7 (Hotham, Manderson), 7:03. Penalties-Demkov Elm (slashing ), 3:45; Day Whl (illegal check to head), 13:07.
3rd Period-5, Wheeling, Lenes 17 (Barton), 19:22 (EN). Penalties-Pietrus Elm (hooking), 3:01; Dieude-Fauvel Elm (cross-checking), 5:20; Lane Elm (misconduct), 19:27.
Shots on Goal-Wheeling 10-18-11-39. Elmira 12-7-11-30.
Power-Play Opportunities-Wheeling 0-4; Elmira 0-1.
Goalies-Wheeling, Delmas 10-6-0-0 (30 shots-29 saves). Elmira, Stewart 15-7-0-0 (38 shots-35 saves).
Referee-TJ Luxmore (23).
Linesmen-Francis Trempe (85), Ray King (39).