ELMIRA, N.Y. - On Sunday afternoon the Wheeling Nailers played their eighth game in 12 games, and they finished it with an explosion. Wheeling lit the lamp four times in the first period en route to a 7-0 blasting of the Elmira Jackals at First Arena as Kieran Millan picked up a 24-save shutout.
The Nailers remained in the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff position, though they are but five points behind second-place Orlando. They are tied with Florida for seventh, but the Everblades rate the nod with three games in hand. In terms of the Atlantic Division, Reading's lead is down to two points.
The Nailers launched themselves out of the gates to start the contest, matching a season-high, thanks to a four-goal first period. The first goal came 1:18 in, when Zack Torquato faked a slap shot from the high slot before dragging the puck to his right and connecting with a wrist shot for his 12th of the season.
Midway through the period Wheeling added to its lead, starting with a power-play goal 10:55. Sahir Gill dropped the puck back to Barry Goers, who teed up a one-timer from the blueline, blasting his shot through a screened Neil Conway for his third. A mere 46 seconds later, Colin Mulvey made the score 3-0 when he finished a 3-on-2 rush with Tyler Fernandez and Shane Bakker, wristing his fifth of the season in from the right circle.
Cody Sylvester completed the first-period scoring with 5:10 to go, when he powered in a slap shot from the left circle.
Midway through the second period the Nailers tallied once more. Bakker picked up a loose puck in the left corner of his own zone before launching a pass ahead to Denver Manderson in neutral ice. Manderson caught the puck in stride breaking away, before roofing a shot over Conway's glove for his ninth goal of the season.
In the third period, Wheeling completed its thumping with two more goals. Sylvester's second of the day and 15th of the season deflected off of a defender at the 12:02 mark, and with 1:23 remaining, Manderson centered the puck for Carter Rowney, who buried a one-timer over Conway's glove for his 10th of the season and the final score.
Conway took the loss for the Jackals, allowing seven goals on 38 shots.
The Nailers and Jackals will do battle again in Elmira at 7:05 on Friday at 7:05. Wheeling's next home game takes place at 7 on Saturday against the Reading Royals, where the first 1,000 kids ages 14 and under receive a free youth hockey stick. Also, the WWE's Jerry 'The King' Lawler will be in attendance and will sign autographs.
Wheeling4 1 2 - 7
Elmira0 0 0 - 0
1st Period-1, Wheeling, Torquato 12 (Areshenko, MacKay), 1:18. 2, Wheeling, Goers 3 (Gill, Torquato), 10:55 (PP). 3, Wheeling, Mulvey 5 (Fernandez, Bakker), 11:41. 4, Wheeling, Sylvester 14 (Goers, Manderson), 14:50. Penalties-Fernandez Whl (delay of game), 6:22; Hobbs Elm (boarding), 9:38; Stevenson Whl (removing the helmet, fighting - major), 19:44; Young Elm (removing the helmet, fighting - major), 19:44.
2nd Period-5, Wheeling, Manderson 9 (Bakker), 10:43. Penalties-Manderson Whl (high-sticking), 8:00.
3rd Period-6, Wheeling, Sylvester 15 12:02. 7, Wheeling, Rowney 10 (Sylvester, Manderson), 18:37. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Wheeling 17-9-12-38. Elmira 9-10-4-23.
Power Play Opportunities-Wheeling 1-1; Elmira 0-2.
Goalies-Wheeling, Millan 2-0-0-0 (23 shots-23 saves). Elmira, Conway 6-2-0-1 (38 shots-31 saves).
Referee-Andy Thackaberry (22); Linesmen-Joe DeMizio (59), Brian Oliver (36).