WHEELING - On the next to last night of the regular season, Wheeling came out on the ice looking like a team ready to play spoiler and not let Toledo gain any ground in the final playoff chase.
The Nailers exploded for four first-period goals, leading by two at the end of the first period, only to have things unravel in the second, and as the season has gone, lead to frustration in the end.
Toledo had five players score at least two points, led by three each from Willie Coetzee and Joey Martin, as the Walleye knocked in six goals during the final two periods to post a come-from-behind 8-5 victory against Wheeling Friday night at WesBanco Arena.
Nailers forward Chris Rooney (28) splits the defense of two Walleye players Friday night.
It was the most goals the Nailers have allowed in a game all season, having previously given up six twice, and came on a night when goalie Peter Delmas continued to battle the flu so much that he became physically sick in the net late in the contest.
"He really showed a lot of heart (Friday)," Nailers coach Clark Donatelli said of Delmas' effort. "He has been sick for over a week and we talked about him playing on Thursday and he said he wanted to give it a try. We left it up to him and he wanted to play."
Each team managed to light the lamp in the early stages, with the Nailers putting up a pair of goals in the opening 6:31. Chris Barton's blast from close in gave the hosts a 1-0 lead at just the 24-second mark before Toledo knotted the count with a pretty give-and-go from Ben Youds to Kyle Rogers at 3:37.
The answer also came quickly when Peter Lenes batted in a rebounded shot at 6:31 for his 12th goal and Wheeling once again had a one goal advantage at 2-1.
Toledo took advantage of a power-play opportunity later in the period when Youds took a crossing pass from Martin deep in the Nailers end and had it glance off of Delmas and into net to again tie the score at 2-2 at 5:11.
Wheeling then finished the period the exact way it started it, with a pair of quick scores. Barton's second goal of the game, and 23rd of the season, came on a 2-on-2 breakaway at 19:25 to make it 3-2 before Jordy Trottier's third goal of the year made it 4-2 at 19:57.
Trottier was able to take advantage of goalie Jordan Pearce being out of position, picking up a loose puck in front of the net and beating the clock for the score.
Martin's 15th goal brought the Walleye a little closer at 6:22 of the second when he picked up a loose puck and drilled it past Delmas from 15 feet out.
Three minutes later the score was even for the third time when Coetzee made his way around the net and bounced a shot off the post at 9:45 for a 4-4 reading. Toledo's third goal in a little more than five minutes put the Walleye in front for the first time at 11:32.
"That second period was a disaster," Donatelli said. "We came out and gave up three goals, mainly because we were getting beat 1 on 1."
Joey Ryan's shot from close-in made its way past a dejected Delmas, who watched the Nailers once-promising lead slip away. While the Walleye were enjoying a big second period on offense, goalie Kent Simpson, who entered to start the second period, turned away all six of Wheeling's shots on goal in the frame.
It was a long time coming, and it didn't stand for long, but Paul Crowder's 22nd goal at 5:24 finally provided the fourth deadlock at 5-5 before Trevor Parkes put the visitors back in front on a blast from just a few feet away at 6:31.
The insurance goal came at 17:21 on Toledo's second power-play goal of the game on a shot off the stick of Phil Rauch.
"We got away from our game plan, we quit getting deep and were turning the puck over at the blue line," Donatelli added. "We were talking or finishing plays and the momentum changed quickly. We came out in the third and tied things up with a goal, but then they got a quick one to go back in front.
"It's a tough loss, but Toledo has had our number all year. They have a good coach, work hard and get the job done."
Wheeling closes the 2012-13 campaign tonight at 7 when it welcomes Trenton.
Toledo, meanwhile, remains in the No. 7 spot in the conference standings with South Carolina and Elmira both picking up victories Friday night.
Toledo 8, Wheeling 5
Toledo 2 3 3 - 8
Wheeling 4 0 1 - 5
1st Period-1. Wheeling, Barton 22 (Hansen, Crowder), :24. 2. Toledo, Rogers 15 (Bogosian, Youds), 3:37. 3. Wheeling, Lenes 12 (Veilleux, Ross), 6:31. 4. Toledo, Youds 7 (Martin), 5:11 (pp). 5.Wheeling, Barton 23 (Torquato, Crowder), 19:25. 6. Wheeling, Trottier 3 (Germain, Hansen), 19:57. Penalties-Rooney, Whg (fighting - major), 6:40; Lampl, Tol (fighting - major), 6:40; Coetzee, Tol (slashing - minor), 10:39; Lenes, Whg (bench - minor), 14:05; Lampl, Tol (fighting - major), 17:19; Rooney, Whg (fighting - major), 17:19.
2nd Period-7. Toledo, Martin 15 (Spady, Coetzee), 6:22. 8. Toledo, Coetzee 28 (Parkes), 9:45. 9. Toledo, Ryan 14 (Rogers, Youds), 11:32.
3rd Period-10. Wheeling, Crowder 22 (Barton, Crowley), 5:24. 11. Toledo, Parkes 14 (Rowe), 6:31. 12.Toledo, Rauch 11 (Youds, Coetzee), 17:21 (pp). 13. Toledo, Martin 16 (Parkes, Ryan), 19:39 (en). Penalties-Youds, Tol (slashing - minor), 7:31; Veilleux, Whg (cross-checking - minor), 7:31; Thorne, Tol (roughing - minor), 12:42; Rooney, Whg (delay of game - minor), 16:43.
Shots on Goal-Toledo 13-10-12 - 35; Wheeling 12-6-12 - 30.
Power-Play Opportunities-Toledo 2 / 2; Wheeling 0 / 2.
Goalies-Toledo, Pearce 15-11-2-1 (12 shots-8 saves), Simpson 20-14-2-3 (18 shots-17 saves); Wheeling, Delmas 15-12-0-4 (35 shots-27 saves).
Referee: Don Jablonski (81); Linesmen: Joe DeMizio (59), Zach Roberts (84).