WHEELING - Wheeling forward Zack Torquato, hood on his sweatshirt up, understandably couldn't sit still as the sweat beads poured down his face, his breath visible as he spoke in the cool night air. That frigid scene was typical both on and off the ice Friday night for the Nailers.
Stanislav Galiev scored his eighth goal of the season at 5:32 of the third period to give the Reading Royals (31-10-5 - 67) a 2-1 victory against Wheeling (21-16-8 - 50) in front of a nice turnout at WesBanco Arena.
Reading got that lead and then went into trap mode, allowing the Nailers a mere four shots - 13 in the final two periods - in the third.
Wheeling Nailers forward Jordy Trottier (9) battles along the boards with Reading Royals forward David Marshall (27) during the second game of a home-and-home.
It wasn't as though Wheeling played poorly, it was a case of Reading simply being a little bit better.
''We've got to find a way to finish it in the third and find a way to get some more goals,'' said Torquato, who scored the lone Nailers goal, his third of the season. ''We've got to bury our chances.
''They're more of a run-and-gun team and try to get odd-man rushes. They got the lead on us so they kind of trapped up a little bit on us.
Reading1 0 1 - 2
Wheeling0 1 0 - 1
1st Period-1, Reading, Kashirsky 5 (Comrie), 16:59. Penalties-Mitera Rea (slashing ), 1:39; Cayer Rea (holding), 9:46; Farrer Whl (slashing ), 13:54; Galiev Rea (tripping), 19:19.
2nd Period-2, Wheeling, Torquato 3 (Zurevinski, Corcoran), 7:13. Penalties-Marshall Rea (roughing), 5:28; Tolles Whl (roughing), 5:28; Paquette Rea (roughing), 8:23; McNeill Whl (slashing ), 8:23; Zurevinski Whl (slashing ), 14:19; Comrie Rea (high-sticking - double), 15:11; Zurevinski Whl (boarding), 17:12; served by Galiev Rea (bench - too many men), 19:28.
3rd Period-3, Reading, Galiev 8 (Sova, Champagne), 5:32. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Reading 10-11-13-34. Wheeling 12-9-4-25.
Power-Play Opportunities-Reading 0 / 2; Wheeling 0 / 6.
Goalies-Reading, MacIntyre 5-2-0-0 (25 shots-24 saves). Wheeling, Darling 9-7-1-1 (34 shots-32 saves).
Referee-Marc-Andre Lavoie (9).
Linesmen-Francis Trempe (85), Ryan Daisy (64).
''We've got to get more Grade-A chances when it's like that.''
The Royals took a 1-0 lead late in the first period when Adam Comrie's right-point blast squirted through the pads of Wheeling goaltender Scott Darling, who made 32 saves. With the puck lying on the goal line, Nikita Kashirsky calmly skated in and gave it the nudge it needed for his fifth.
''We made a couple mental breakdowns and the puck ended up in the back of our net,'' Nailers coach Clark Donatelli said. ''It's unfortunate (because) we played hard.''
The Nailers got even at 7:13 of the second as Scott Zurevinski notched just his second point in nine games. Skating in on the left side, he put one off the pads of winning goaltender Drew MacIntyre (24 saves) and Torquato waited before lifting the puck into the top of the net for his third.
Tim Corcoran added the secondary helper, his first point in a Wheeling uniform.
''I had a few chances so it was nice to get one in,'' Torquato said. Zurevinski ''made a great shot and it just kind of went on my stick and I had an open net.''
That was all MacIntrye gave up, with the Nailers failing to get all that close to the 6-foot-1, 193-pound ex-NHL goaltender. If there was one part of the game that maybe upset Donatelli, that was it.
''We had some pushback, but we had four shots in the third period,'' the coach said. ''You're not going to win a lot of games with four shots in the third period, especially down 2-1.
''They were working hard, trying and competing. That's the big thing.''
The Nailers take to the road tonight to face Kalamazoo for the first time. Struggling for most of the season away from home, Wheeling has won two straight outside WesBanco, and has a point in four in a row.
''We're playing well on the road. The compete level and having good starts, good first periods,'' Donatelli said. ''We haven't played them, but they're struggling a little bit.
''They're explosive and I know they're pretty good at home.''