WHEELING - Wheeling and Florida played 130 minutes of hockey to a dead standstill this weekend at WesBanco Arena. The difference between the two teams was performance in shootouts.
Kellan Tochan netted the winner in the fifth round Sunday at WesBanco Arena as the Everblades (18-6-2 - 38) came away with their second 5-4 victory against the Nailers (13-6-5 - 31) in as many days. Florida strengthened its second-place position in the Eastern Conference on third-pace Wheeling.
For the fourth straight meeting between the clubs, a tying goal was scored in the final minute of regulation. The Nailers got theirs a night earlier with 1 second remaining, but this time it was the Blades' Rocco Carzo netting the equalizer, redirecting Braden Birch's point shot for a power-play goal, his seventh goal of the season overall, with 24 seconds left.
Wheeling goaltender Mike Condon and defenseman Matt Grassi (14) prevent a shot on Florida’s Kellan Tochkin during their game Sunday.
Photo by Joe Lovell
''The compete level was there and we're happy with that, but we're not happy with the result,'' Nailers coach Clark Donatelli said. ''We got two points out of (the weekend) against a real good Florida team.
''We wish we'd gotten more, but we'll take that for now.''
Ben Duffy, who along with Scott Zurevinski was sent down from Hamilton late Saturday night, arrived about an hour prior to warmups and then proceeded to score a pair of goals and assisted on another for Wheeling. It looked like he might get the winner, after a lunging effort resulted in his fourth in as many games for the team, a backhander off a Carter Rowney rebound at 14:11 of the third.
''It was a rough day getting here,'' Duffy said. '' I played (Saturday) night and woke up at 4 in the morning to start the travel day.
''It was tough on the mind to get into it, but once you get out there and start playing it's just hockey and you don't worry about being tired.''
Florida struck first just 1:30 into the game as Trevor Bruess hauled in a big rebound in the slot off Wheeling goaltender Mike Condon's pad and got just enough of the puck that it trickled in. Rowney tied it at 14:47 as he grabbed his own rebound, which rang off the crossbar, and beat Blades goalie Trevor Cann up top on the backhand.
A little more than two minutes, later Duffy netted the first of his two off a clean faceoff victory by Zack Torquato, whose two assists give him a league-leading 21. Torquato is second in points with 30 in 24 games.
However, Florida tied it with less than four minutes left on Jordan Henry's second of the season as the first period ended 2-2. It was the only successful power play for the Everblades in seven chances.
''I don't know why (we) weren't ready to come out and play, but the good thing is we were able to hold them off and came out tied,'' Donatelli said.
The second period was a penalty fest that sprinkled in a goal from each team. Sahir Gill notched his sixth of the season from Max MacKay and Chaz Johnson at 9:28 and Mike Merrifield added his seventh and second in as many games for the Everblades. It was clear though that the penalties disrupted the flow.
''You've got to get a feel for what's going on and what they're calling and it's hard sometimes,'' Donatelli said. ''We've got to stop taking the stupid - the lazy - penalties. It's the holding and the slashing and that kind of stuff.
''We've got to be more disciplined in that regard.''
The Nailers' top line held the league's leading scorer Matthew Pistilli without a point in the two-game set. The defensive pairing of Dustin Stevenson and Jake Areshenko were matched up against Pistilli's line most of the weekend.
''They did a good job of shutting him down,'' Donatelli said. ''But (the Blades have) got a lot of other good players out there that can hurt you.
''They've got three good lines and if you start matching lines, (Greg Poss is) a good coach and he mixes and matches.''
The Nailers are off until Friday and Saturday when they play host to Evansville at WesBanco Arena.
Florida2 1 1 0 - 5
Wheeling2 1 1 0 - 4
1st Period-1, Florida, Bruess 4 (Merrifield, Henrion), 1:30. 2, Wheeling, Rowney 7 (Torquato, Duffy), 14:47. 3, Wheeling, Duffy 3 (Torquato), 15:22. 4, Florida, Henry 2 (MacLean , Roy), 16:53 (PP). Penalties-Roy Fla (fighting - major), 2:26; Stevenson Whl (fighting - major), 2:26; Henry Fla (cross-checking), 3:21; Zurevinski Whl (slashing ), 3:21; Caveney Fla (hooking), 7:09; Zurevinski Whl (boarding), 16:12; Stevenson Whl (misconduct - unsportsmanlike conduct), 16:53; Torquato Whl (interference), 16:53; Ratchuk Whl (unsportsmanlike conduct - disputing decision), 19:05; Tochkin Fla (tripping), 19:55.
2nd Period-5, Wheeling, Gill 6 (MacKay, Johnson), 9:28. 6, Florida, Merrifield 7 (MacLean , Carzo), 13:11. Penalties-Henry Fla (illegal check to head), 5:49; Rowney Whl (tripping), 6:34; Bakker Whl (kneeing), 10:36; MacLean Fla (slashing ), 11:03.
3rd Period-7, Wheeling, Duffy 4 (Rowney), 14:11. 8, Florida, Carzo 7 (Birch, Henrion), 19:36. Penalties-MacKay Whl (cross-checking), 17:36.
OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Dame-Malka Fla (high-sticking), 2:30; served by Harvey Whl (bench - too many men), 4:45.
Shootout - Florida 3 (MacLean G, Henry NG, Roy G, Pistilli NG, Tochkin G), Wheeling 2 (Gill NG, Duffy G, Fernandez NG, Ratchuk G, Torquato NG).
Shots on Goal-Florida 12-12-9-0-1-34. Wheeling 10-8-9-1-0-28.
Power Play Opportunities-Florida 1 / 7; Wheeling 0 / 5.
Goalies-Florida, Cann 5-2-0-0 (28 shots-24 saves). Wheeling, Condon 10-4-0-4 (33 shots-29 saves).
Referee-Don Jablonski (18), Linesmen-Zach Roberts (84), Brian Oliver (36).