WHEELING - Doug Doull got his first chance to sit at the pro coaching head table Saturday night and quickly realized the vantage point isn't any prettier from there. Filling in for Greg Puhalski who was welcoming home his wife and their new baby, Doull watched as the Nailers put forth another substandard effort, this one resulting in a 6-3 loss to the Cincinnati Cyclones at WesBanco Arena.
''I would say the commitment level of certain guys really is killing us,'' Doull said without giving names. ''We're pushing all the buttons - we're trying to, anyway.
''At the end of the day it's gotta come down to the will of a player.''
Wheeling’s Aaron Clarke (7) battles Cincinnati’s Scott Reynolds on Saturday.
Photo by Art Limann
The Cyclones (4-2-0 - 8) scored three goals in six power-play chances, each time showing the Nailers (2-6-1 - 5) how a hungry team plays with the man advantage. On the other end, Wheeling was 0-for-4 under the same circumstances.
''You saw them on their power play smell blood and go after a rebound and bury chances,'' Doull said of the Cyclones. ''We could have done the same thing but we came up short.
''Our mindset on the ice is we sag, because it's that 'here we go again' attitude. I wish we could have capitalized.''
Cincinnati held a 1-0 lead after the first period after Matt Pierce cashed the first of his three goals on the night and fourth of the season, this one coming on the power play.
After Pierce made it 2-0 at 1:08 of the second, again on the power play, the teams exchanged three goals in a 36-second span. Pierce Norton got the Nailers on the board thanks to a great effort by Blair Yaworski of straddling the blue line to stay onside and then wrist one to the net, where Norton pounced on the rebound and deposited his second of the season.
But before public address announcer Dave Flatley could finish the call, the Cyclones were on the board again when Bryan Marshall notched the first of his two goals just 10 seconds later. Wheeling's Andrew Lord then pushed one past Cincinnati goaltender Robert Mayer while sliding on his back toward the goal to make it a 3-2 deficit.
''A couple of goals do not break a good hockey team. If anything we rally and support one another,'' Doull said. ''We're coming up short on supporting one another and pushing back.
''Let's face it, we're in a skid. I wouldn't even call it a skid, I would call it a real inconsistent, fragile game right now.''
A little more than 5 minutes later the two-goal lead was restored with - what else? - another power-play goal, this one coming on a pretty tic-tac-toe play that was finished by Marshall. Again, though, the Nailers fought back.
After Wheeling forced a turnover in the neutral zone, forward Ryan Schnell skated down the left wing into the Cincinnati end and wristed one between the legs of Mayer for his first professional goal, again cutting the lead back to one and setting the stage for what looked like a barnburner of a third.
''Our mindset going into (the third period of) a one-goal game, it's feast or famine,'' Doull said. ''Right now we're in complete famine.''
The Cyclones tallied their fifth goal 1:26 in and Pierce closed it out by beating Wheeling goaltender Jordan Parise on a breakaway to complete the hat trick.
The frustration boiled over late for Nailers defenseman Mitch Ganzak. Not known for his fighting exploits, Ganzak dropped Cincinnati's Dustin Sproat with a hard left hand near center ice with 54 seconds remaining.
''Mitch has probably had it. Had it with his own play, had it with his fate - our fate,'' Doull said. ''He's a caring, very passionate individual.
''You can tell by the way he plays and he's had enough, as I am sure a lot of guys have.''
Schnell added an assist for a two-point night and was named the third star. ... Cincinnati has yet to allow a power-play goal this season in six games, but three of the contests have been against Wheeling, which was converting only 13 percent of the time before its 0-for-4. ... The Cyclones have played twice in WesBanco and had a player record a hat trick each time. Last week Mark Voakes scored three times. He hasn't cashed in since.
Cincinnati1 3 2 - 6
Wheeling0 3 0 - 3
1st Period-1, Cincinnati, Pierce 4 (Cashman, Robinson), 18:37 (pp). Penalties-served by O'Leary Cin (bench - too many men), 6:50; Pierce Cin (hooking), 8:33; Norton Whl (slashing ), 18:03; Loya Whl (tripping), 19:15.
2nd Period-2, Cincinnati, Pierce 5 (Landry, Sproat), 1:08 (pp). 3, Wheeling, Norton 2 (Yaworski, Haddad), 3:49. 4, Cincinnati, Marshall 1 (Leitch, Zinger), 3:59. 5, Wheeling, Lord 2 (Schnell), 4:25. 6, Cincinnati, Marshall 2 (Leitch, Cashman), 9:32 (pp). 7, Wheeling, Schnell 2 (Couturier), 12:22. Penalties-Henningson Whl (high-sticking), 0:28; Sproat Cin (interference on the goalkeeper), 6:10; Haddad Whl (boarding), 8:39; Couturier Whl (slashing ), 14:22; Schnell Whl (roughing), 19:24.
3rd Period-8, Cincinnati, McLean 2 (Sheahan, Marshall), 1:26. 9, Cincinnati, Pierce 6 (Sproat), 14:04. Penalties-Robinson Cin (tripping), 7:20; Sproat Cin (fighting - major), 19:06; Ganzak Whl (fighting - major), 19:06.
Shots on Goal-Cincinnati 10-11-9-30. Wheeling 8-9-6-23.
Power Play Opportunities-Cincinnati 3 of 6; Wheeling 0 of 4.
Goalies-Cincinnati, Mayer 1-1-0-0 (23 shots-20 saves). Wheeling, Parise 1-3-0-0 (30 shots-24 saves).
Referee-Geno Binda (15); Linesmen-Mike Hamilton (80), Matt Macpherson (83).