For the News-Register
WHEELING - The Wheeling Nailers have been no stranger to late game heroics this season, and that was no different Saturday night as they came back from a two-goal deficit and picked up a 3-2 overtime victory over the Evansville IceMen.
Evansville’s Donnie Harris (26) collides with
Wheeling’s Mike Ratchuk (2).
The Nailers scored the game-tying goal in the final minute of regulation.
Coming off a 6-3 routing at the hands of the IceMen Friday, Wheeling responded well and held the Eastern Conference's number three team in goals scored to just two with a much better defensive effort.
The IceMen got on the board first when former Nailer Daultan Leveille slipped a backdoor feed through the legs of Wheeling netminder Mathieu Corbeil on a 2-on-1 rush, counter-attacking after Wheeling's Ben Duffy and Mike Ratchuk both came close to scoring at the other end. Tom Zanoski and former Nailer Matt Schepke picked up assists on the marker, Leveille's seventh of the season. Wheeling trailed 1-0 after one.
Chaz Johnson threw a heavy check behind the Evansville net and picked up a boarding minor 9:24 into the middle frame, and the IceMen made him pay.
Jacob Johnston took a pass from Nathan Moon and hammered a shot from the point that found its way through Corbeil for his fifth of the season. Jeremy Langlois also picked up an assist.
Wheeling cut the deficit in half with 3:46 remaining in the second when Sahir Gill forced a turnover deep in the Evansville zone to fed Scott Zurevinski in the left circle, and he did not miss beating Evansville netminder Garrett Bartus with a one-timer. Gill picked up the lone assist.
"We were working them really hard on the forecheck" Zurevinski said. "I found an open spot in the slot and (Gill) had his head up and found me with a great pass."
Corbeil made a few big saves in the final frame to give his team a chance to come back, none bigger than when he dove in desperation deny a back door feed with just over nine and half minutes to go in the game.
"(Corbeil) played well, we left him out to dry the night before and it was good to see him comeback and get the win" Zurevinski said.
Wheeling failed to convert on their first four power play opportunities, but got one more crack at it with 1:57 to go in regulation when Guillaume Lepine sent the puck over the glass for delay of game. Corbeil came to the bench inside the final minute for an extra attacker, and Wheeling once again came up with a dramatic goal.
Zurevinski received a pass from Max MacKay in the bottom of the right circle and wristed a shot bar-down for his second of the contest and fifth of the season with just nine seconds remaining on the clock to force overtime. Nailers coach Clark Donatelli said "It's not over til it's over right? We just keep going.
"The guys work extremely hard at that in practice, they're very confident going down to the last minute in games."
In overtime, Mike Ratchuk took a Carter Rowney feed at the right point and sent a harmless seeming wrister on net. It tipped off an Evansville defender in front and bounced past Bartus with 43 seconds to go in the extra frame, giving Wheeling a come-from-behind 3-2 overtime victory.
The Nailers will have some time rest and regroup over the holiday break before heading south to face Gwinnett and South Carolina on the road next Friday and Saturday.