WHEELING - Cam Fergus didn't have a chance to get comfortable last year. Arriving for the final eight games of the Wheeling Nailers' season after finishing up at St. Mary's University, it was all Fergus could do to keep his head above water.
He's doing just fine now, though.
Fergus scored a pair of goals and assisted on another as the Nailers tallied six times in the second period on their way to a 9-4 exhibition rout of the Cincinnati Cyclones on Sunday at WesBanco Arena. Paul Crowder added four assists for Wheeling while Matt Schepke and Jordy Trottier added two apiece.
Wheeling’s Scooter Vaughn (3) tries to get a shot past Cincinnati goalie Stephane Cesar during Sunday’s exhibition game at WesBanco Arena.
''It was a good experience for me last year. I came down here and Clark (Donatelli) treated me great, the organization was very fair and I enjoyed the three weeks I had down here,'' Fergus said. '' I tried to learn as much as I could, as quick as I could. I definitely felt a little more prepared and knew what to expect.
''I'm hoping I can just keep moving forward and get better as the season goes on.''
With the season opener less than a week away and spots on the team at a premium, Donatelli was appreciative of the effort put forth by everybody in a Nailers uniform. He said there are a number of players making it tough to be cut, even if Donatelli still doesn't know how many will have to be let go.
''They've at least been trying, and I think they executed what we've been teaching the last week,'' Donatelli said. ''That's a very positive sign.
''They are making it really hard and that's the way it's supposed to be. They're all professionals and they know what they're up against.''
Cincinnati jumped to a 1-0 lead on the first of two Blake Gallagher goals. It came at 16:37 of the first and was the lone goal allowed on 14 shots by Wheeling starter Scott Darling.
''Scott Darling I am very impressed with,'' Donatelli said. ''He's a big kid, he can move and handle the puck. He's a top prospect, so things are going to get interesting.''
The Nailers knotted it 1:34 into the second when Ben Farrer picked up a Schepke rebound and put it behind Cyclones goaltender Zoltan Hetenyi. Schepke finished the preseason with four points.
''I knew I had to come out and start strong, and that is the start that I wanted,'' he said. ''We're working out hard and getting things done over the summer, so to come in and get a good start it's a very rewarding feeling, not only for yourself but as a team.
''I look to keep going as we head into the season and have another good start.''
Wheeling also got goals in the second period from Chris Barton (second), Scooter Vaughan (first), Ryan Maunu (first), Fergus and defenseman Paul Cianfrini, whose came on the power play. They chased Hetenyi after he allowed five goals on nine shots in the second.
''Our training camp is pretty short and you've definitely got to show what you've got. That's just one of those mental toughness things,'' Fergus said. ''It's definitely something to build off.''
The Nailers added goals from Fergus, Zack Torquato and Maunu potted his second after a beautiful pass from Alex Belzile.
''You get a chance to see that skill,'' Donatelli said of Belzile. ''This is only his second pro game and he's still just trying to figure it out. He's been a pro for a week. You see flashes of brilliance.''
Cincinnati1 0 3 - 4
Wheeling0 6 3 - 9
1st Period-1, Cincinnati, Gallagher 1 (Bourret, Embach), 16:37. Penalties-McGillis Cin (charging), 1:40; Corcoran Whl (delay of game), 10:09.
2nd Period-2, Wheeling, Farrer 1 (Schepke, Stejskal), 1:34. 3, Wheeling, Barton 2 (Crowder, Ross), 3:17. 4, Wheeling, Vaughan 1 (Trottier), 4:59. 5, Wheeling, Maunu 1 (Trottier, Vaughan), 7:45. 6, Wheeling, Fergus 1 (Cianfrini, Crowder), 8:08 (PP). 7, Wheeling, Cianfrini 1 (Fergus, Crowder), 12:38 (PP). Penalties-Penner Cin (boarding), 8:05; Schepke Whl (holding the stick), 11:36; McGillis Cin (roughing, slashing ), 12:25; Ross Whl (roughing), 12:25; Penner Cin (interference on the goalkeeper), 13:15; Vaughan Whl (elbowing), 14:39; Bourret Cin (roughing, interference), 15:13; Ross Whl (roughing), 15:13.
3rd Period-8, Wheeling, Fergus 2 (Schepke, Belzile), 5:00. 9, Cincinnati, Penner 1 (Edwards, McGillis), 9:34. 10, Cincinnati, Gallagher 2 (Bourret, Embach), 10:31. 11, Wheeling, Torquato 1 (Barton, Crowder), 13:12 (PP). 12, Wheeling, Maunu 2 (Belzile, Starrett), 18:52. 13, Cincinnati, Bradford 1 (Gallagher), 19:51. Penalties-Penner Cin (elbowing), 11:52; Farrer Whl (elbowing), 14:22; McGillis Cin (fighting - major), 18:57; Ross Whl (fighting - major), 18:57.
Shots on Goal-Cincinnati 8-10-13-31. Wheeling 4-22-12-38.
Power-Play Opportunities-Cincinnati 0-4; Wheeling 3-6.
Goalies-Cincinnati, Hetenyi 1-1-0-0 (12 shots-7 saves); Cesar 0-0-0-0 (26 shots-22 saves). Wheeling, Darling 1-0-0-0 (14 shots-13 saves); Chiasson 0-1-0-0 (17 shots-14 saves).
Referee-Don Jablonski (18); Linesmen-Joe DeMizio (59), Ray King (39).