CINCINNATI - During the course of his three seasons with the Cincinnati Cyclones, Anthony Luciani has proved to be a thorn in the side of the Wheeling Nailers. On Saturday night, he got his club started, netting a pair of goals to build a 2-0 lead, as the Cyclones ultimately went on to defeat visiting Wheeling, 4-2 at US Bank Arena.
After a scoreless first period, which featured 11 combined shots on goal, the contest opened up in the second, with both scoring and chances. With 6:53 gone by, Mike Embach picked up a loose puck on the right side, and fed Anthony Luciani behind the net. Luciani wrapped the puck around, sneaking Cincinnati's first goal of the season just inside of the left post.
Later in the period, Luciani extended the lead, as he stole the puck at his own blueline, then skated the other way, slipping a forehand shot through Mike Condon's pads. The Nailers got on the board four minutes later, when Carter Rowney banked a pass ahead to Jack MacLellan. MacLellan got a step on the defense, creating a 2-on-1, which he kept to himself, roofing a shot over Scott Darling's glove. Unfortunately, with 55.8 seconds remaining, the Cyclones got insurance for a 3-1 lead, as Taylor Aronson jammed a shot in on the left side of the crease.
With 1:35 left to go in the final period, the Nailers brought themselves within one. Zack Torquato won a battle for a loose puck in the right corner, and Ryan Flanigan ended up banking a shot off of Darling for his first goal in a Wheeling uniform. Matt Grassi also picked up an assist. However, with 67 ticks left on the clock, Paul Crowder squashed the visitors' hopes for a comeback, as he potted an empty net goal for a 4-2 final score in Cincinnati's favor.
Scott Darling picked up the victory in his first game against his former team, making 18 saves on 20 shots for the Cyclones. Mike Condon turned away 23 of the 26 shots he faced in the setback for Wheeling.
The Nailers will visit the Toledo Walleye at 7:15 p.m. Saturday before returning home to WesBanco Arena at 7 p.m. Nov. 1 against the Reading Royals.
Cylclones 4, Nailers 2
Wheeling 0 1 1 - 2
Cincinnati 0 3 1 - 4
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Minella Whl (boarding), 8:31; Embach Cin (slashing ), 11:35; Miller Whl (fighting - major), 15:46; Luciani Cin (fighting - major), 15:46; Embach Cin (hooking), 18:37; MacDonald Cin (slashing ), 18:58.
2nd Period-1, Cincinnati, Luciani 1 (Embach, Daniels), 6:53. 2, Cincinnati, Luciani 2 (Birkholz), 12:10. 3, Wheeling, MacLellan 1 (Rowney), 16:10. 4, Cincinnati, Aronson 1 (Megan, Embach), 19:04. Penalties-Grassi Whl (hooking), 8:09.
3rd Period-5, Wheeling, Flanigan 1 (Torquato, Grassi), 18:25. 6, Cincinnati, Crowder 1 (Reed), 18:53 (EN). Penalties-Johnson Whl (boarding), 1:12.
Shots on Goal-Wheeling 5-8-7-20. Cincinnati 6-11-10-27.
Power Play Opportunities-Wheeling 0 / 3; Cincinnati 0 / 3.
Goalies-Wheeling, Condon 1-1-0-0 (26 shots-23 saves). Cincinnati, Darling 1-0-0-0 (20 shots-18 saves).
Referees-Andy Thackaberry (22).
Linesmen-Francois Dussureault (62), Jim Scarpace (50).