WHEELING -The Wheeling Nailers went into their first of two back-to-back matchups with Evansville looking to bounce back from a pair of shootout losses to Florida last weekend, but it was the IceMen who came away with two points, handing Wheeling a 6-3 defeat at WesBanco Arena.
The Nailers' opponents were coming off a 7-3 blowout of Toledo at home on Wednesday night sitting third in the conference in goals scored, and Wheeling was not able to slow them down.
It looked like it was going to be a good night for Wheeling early as Chaz Johnson fired home his fourth goal of the season on a 2-on-1 rush just 1:06 into the contest, after Ryley Miller forced a turnover at center ice. Miller picked up the lone assist on the goal, Johnson's first on home ice as a Nailer.
Wheeling’s Sahir Gill (21) breaks free in front of Evansville goalie Garrett Bartus during action of their game Friday night at WesBanco Arena.
Photo by Joe Lovell
Nine seconds later, Myles Harvey fired a shot from the point off an offensive zone face-off win by Zack Torquato, beating Evansville netminder Garrett Bartus to put Wheeling up 2-0. Gentry Zollars, making his return to the lineup after spending all of the beginning of the year on IR, also picked up an assist.
Just as fans started to think it Wheeling (13-7-0-5-31) had things under control, the IceMen fired back with three unanswered goals. Former Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick Nathan Moon put Evansville (14-7-0-3-31) on the board 23 seconds after Harvey's goal, slipping the puck past Wheeling's Mathieu Corbeil. Assists went to Tom Zanoski and Jeremy Langlois.
Zanoski picked a goal of his at the 3:28 in to even the score, sniping a wrist shot bar-down to the glove side on Corbeil. Moon and Guillaume Lepine added assists. Shane Bakker was whistled for an interference minor 7:32 in, and Mike Seidel took advantage firing home a power play goal on a turning shot 1:26 later to give the IceMen their first lead.
Former Nailer Daultan Leveille picked up his first of three assists, and Zanoski gave himself an early three-point night with a helper on the goal. Zanoski completed the Gordy Howe hat trick at 9:39 of the frame when he dropped the gloves with Wheeling's Ryley Miller.
Sawyer Hannay opened the scoring in the middle frame, tipping a Leveille shot through Corbeil's legs to give Evansville a 4-2 lead 6:59 in. Former Nailer Matt Schepke picked up an assist on marker. A little more than a minute later, Matt Krug sent home his seventh of the year to extend the visitors lead to three, with assists from Moon and Peter Sakaris.
Colin Mulvey picked up a late goal to make it 5-3 with 1:24 to go, sending a shot through the legs of Bartus. Mike Ratchuk and Bakker picked up the assists.
Wheeling has had more than a few third-period comebacks this season, but it was not meant to be. Schepke picked up the lone goal in the period, keeping the puck himself on a 2-on-1 and beating Corbeil blocker side 8:51 in, with assists from Leveille and Krug.
Wheeling had four third-period power play chances, but was unable to make it any closer. The same two teams square off again tonight at 7 at WesBanco Arena.
Evansville 3 2 1 - 6
Wheeling 2 1 0 - 3
1st Period-1, Wheeling, Johnson 4 (Miller), 1:06. 2, Wheeling, Harvey 1 (Zollars, Torquato), 1:15. 3, Evansville, Moon 5 (Zanoski, Langlois), 1:38. 4, Evansville, Zanoski 5 (Moon, Lepine), 3:28. 5, Evansville, Seidel 8 (Leveille, Zanoski), 8:58 (PP). Penalties-Bakker Whl (interference), 7:32; Zanoski Evn (roughing, fighting - major, misconduct), 9:39; Miller Whl (roughing, fighting - major), 9:39; Gill Whl (tripping), 15:00; MacKay Whl (misconduct - unsportsmanlike conduct), 15:00; Sakaris Evn (elbowing), 19:08.
2nd Period-6, Evansville, Hannay 1 (Leveille, Schepke), 6:59. 7, Evansville, Krug 7 (Moon, Sakaris), 8:06. 8, Wheeling, Mulvey 2 (Ratchuk, Bakker), 18:36. Penalties-Miller Whl (delay of game), 3:02; Leveille Evn (tripping), 16:14.
3rd Period-9, Evansville, Schepke 9 (Leveille, Krug), 8:51. Penalties-served by Sakaris Evn (bench - too many men), 1:36; Harris Evn (high-sticking - double), 11:03; Hannay Evn (unsportsmanlike conduct), 15:22; Krug Evn (roughing, fighting - major), 18:06; Bakker Whl (fighting - major), 18:06.
Shots on Goal-Evansville 10-7-2-19. Wheeling 8-9-20-37.
Power Play Opportunities-Evansville 1 / 3; Wheeling 0 / 7.
Goalies-Evansville, Bartus 3-4-0-1 (37 shots-34 saves). Wheeling, Corbeil 1-1-0-0 (19 shots-13 saves).
Referee-Frederic Leblanc (25).
Linesmen-Zach Roberts (84), Joe DeMizio (59).