ELMIRA, N.Y. - Jean Bourbeau missed 11 games with an injury for the Elmira Jackals, and his return was a valuable one Friday night. The Elmira captain netted a hat trick, while Jakub Culek chipped in with three points as the Jackals defeated the Wheeling Nailers, 5-2, at First Arena.
The Jackals opened the scoring at the 6:05 mark of the first period, utilizing a pair of cross-ice passes. Culek tried to send Troy Rutkowski in on the right side, but the pass hammered off of the side boards. However, Rutkowski quickly gathered in the puck, banking a pass off of Bourbeau and in on the left side of the net.
With 3:48 remaining, Wheeling knotted the score as Tyler Fernandez flipped a backhand pass ahead to Shane Bakker, who sped through the Elmira defense. Once he was in the clear, Bakker shifted from forehand to backhand, sliding a shot through Neil Conway. Justin Smith recorded his first professional point, with an assist on Bakker's tying tally.
Midway through the second period the home team regained its lead. Culek won an offensive-zone face-off back to Danny Hobbs, who immediately took a wrist shot from the top of the left circle. Peter Mannino made the save, but the rebound deflected out to Bourbeau, who dragged the puck to his right, then lifted a shot into the top shelf of the goal.
Less than two minutes into the third period, the Jackals extended their advantage. Daniel Koger backhanded a shot into a scrum in front of the net, and Culek ultimately got the final whack, as the puck dribbled its way over the line.
Midway through the frame, Bourbeau struck again, as he completed his hat trick by picking the top-right corner with a wrist shot from high in the slot.
Wheeling pulled to within two with 1:27 remaining, when Chaz Johnson sniped a wrist shot from the left circle, beating Conway high over his glove. Four of Johnson's eight goals this season have come at First Arena.
The Jackals' Rob Bellamy had the final say, as his empty-netter finished off a 5-2 Elmira victory.
Conway was the triumphant goaltender, making 21 saves on 23 shots. Mannino took the loss, denying 32 of the 36 shots he faced.
Wheeling1 0 1 - 2
Elmira1 1 3 - 5
1st Period-1, Elmira, Bourbeau 5 (Rutkowski, Culek), 6:55. 2, Wheeling, Bakker 4 (Fernandez, Smith), 16:12. Penalties-Bellamy Elm (tripping), 13:47.
2nd Period-3, Elmira, Bourbeau 6 (Hobbs, Culek), 9:18. Penalties-Bakker Whl (tripping), 2:28.
3rd Period-4, Elmira, Koger 9 (Culek, Hobbs), 1:43. 5, Elmira, Bourbeau 7 (Pietrus, Karlsson), 11:06. 6, Wheeling, Johnson 8 18:33. 7, Elmira, Bellamy 14 (Pietrus), 19:41. Penalties-Sylvester Whl (roughing), 2:39; Bourbeau Elm (interference), 2:39; Lamarche Elm (roughing), 2:39; Fernandez Whl (tripping), 6:02; Rowney Whl (boarding), 13:08; Sylvester Whl (misconduct - unsportsmanlike conduct), 19:41.
Shots on Goal-Wheeling 8-8-7-23. Elmira 11-18-9-38.
Power-Play Opportunities-Wheeling 0-2; Elmira 0-3.
Goalies-Wheeling, Mannino 3-3-0-0 (38 shots-33 saves). Elmira, Conway 6-0-0-1 (23 shots-21 saves).
Referee-Frederic Leblanc (25); Linesmen-Joe DeMizio (59), Tom Dellafranco (41).