TOLEDO, Ohio - The Wheeling Nailers saved their best for last Sunday as they visited the Toledo Walleye at Huntington Center for the last in a three-game weekend between the clubs.
Wheeling trailed 2-0 after the first period, but came back with one goal in the second and two in the third, defeating the Walleye, 3-2.
Scott Darling made 42 saves for the victory, while Chris Barton, Zack Torquato, and Matt Germain lit the lamp.
The Walleye got off to a strong start in the opening period, putting a pair of goals on the board, while also registering 21 shots on net. The first marker came at the 5:45 mark, a little more than one minute after Toledo had successfully killed off a penalty.
The home team had sustained possession in the offensive zone for a significant period of time, before Trevor Parkes ultimately found Randy Rowe for the goal. Later in the frame, the Walleye netted a power play goal, as Travis Novak slipped a pass into the slot for Kyle Rogers, who picked the top corner of the cage.
Midway through the second period, the Nailers pulled within a goal, while also making history, becoming the third team in ECHL history to score 5,000 goals. The tally came on the man advantage, when Torquato directed a shot on goal that was stopped by Kent Simpson, but the rebound was pounded home by Barton. Keven Veilleux also assisted on Barton's 19th goal of the season, which tied him with Paul Crowder for the team lead.
Wheeling0 1 2 - 3
Toledo2 0 0 - 2
1st Period-1, Toledo, Rowe 12 (Parkes, O'Neill), 5:25. 2, Toledo, Rogers 13 (Novak, Brenner), 12:41 (PP). Penalties-Bogosian Tol (cross-checking), 2:25; Tolles Whl (fighting - major), 10:01; Thorne Tol (fighting - major), 10:01; Fergus Whl (holding), 11:22.
2nd Period-3, Wheeling, Barton 19 (Torquato, Veilleux), 9:01 (PP). Penalties-Torquato Whl (fighting - major), 1:44; Rauch Tol (fighting - major), 1:44; Hansen Whl (roughing, cross-checking), 3:52; Fournier Tol (roughing), 3:52; Orlando Whl (fighting - major), 8:05; Thorne Tol (fighting - major), 8:05; Fournier Tol (delay of game), 8:48; McNeill Whl (high-sticking), 14:06; Novak Tol (slashing ), 16:31.
3rd Period-4, Wheeling, Torquato 7 (Hansen, Crowder), 8:33 (PP). 5, Wheeling, Germain 7 (Fergus), 9:06. Penalties-Novak Tol (slashing ), 7:38; Torquato Whl (high-sticking - double), 12:26; Orlando Whl (interference), 17:30.
Shots on Goal-Wheeling 9-6-3-18. Toledo 21-11-12-44.
Power Play Opportunities-Wheeling 2 / 4; Toledo 1 / 5.
Goalies-Wheeling, Darling 10-11-1-2 (44 shots-42 saves). Toledo, Simpson 16-13-2-3 (18 shots-15 saves).
Referees-Tom Chmielewski (27).
Linesmen-Francis Trempe (85), Shaun Morgan (71).
In the third period, Wheeling turned the tables on the Walleye, beginning with the tying goal at the 8:33 mark. Crowder won an offensive zone face-off to Zach Hansen. The blueliner dished the puck to Torquato, who drilled a one-timer into the left side of the net.
The power-play goal set the stages for the Nailers to take the lead just 33 seconds later. Cam Fergus put a shot on goal that was turned away by Simpson, but the rebound went to Germain, who backhanded the loose puck past the fallen netminder. Wheeling killed off six minutes in penalties during the final eight minutes of the contest, holding on for the 3-2 victory.
Darling was magnificent for the Nailers, denying 42 of the 44 shots he faced for a victory. Kent Simpson took the loss for Toledo, making 15 saves on 18 shots.
The Nailers return home Wednesday to take on the Kalamazoo Wings at 7 p.m.