EVANSVILLE, Ind. - Matt Schepke spent 29 games with the Wheeling Nailers at the conclusion of the 2011-12 regular season. On Friday night, he provided the heroics for his new team, the Evansville IceMen.
Schepke, playing his final game as he is scheduled for shoulder surgery early next week, broke a 3-3 tie with 5:57 remaining, lifting Evansville to a 4-3 victory at Ford Center, ending Wheeling's five-game winning streak.
Evansville opened the scoring at the 5:27 mark of the first period. Loren Barron dumped the puck in on the right side, where it was chased down behind the net by Schepke who centered a pass to Alex Aleardi, who then lifted a shot into the left side of the net.
With less than one minute remaining in the frame, the Nailers evened the score, courtesy of a power-play goal. Zack Torquato rushed the puck down the left-wing wall, before dropping a pass to Mike Ratchuk at the right point. Ratchuk played the puck into the right circle, where Tom Kuhnhackl spun a backhander along the ice and in for the equalizer.
Just 3:13 into the second period the IceMen regained the lead. Thomas Larkin picked off a pass in center ice, before dumping the puck deep, leading to a battle for possession behind the cage. Tristan King ended up working it free, before hooking up with Kevin Lynch, who converted with a high wrist shot from the right side of the crease for the lone marker of the frame.
The third period featured significantly more scoring, starting at the 1:24 mark, with Wheeling on the man advantage. Torquato slid a pass through the slot to Sahir Gill, who finished off a one-timer from the left side of the slot. Only1:56 later, Evansville went back on top, as Nathan Moon centered the puck for Barron, who crept in from the blueline, banging in a shot along the ice.
Midway through the stanza, the Nailers drew even for a third time. Tyler Fernandez worked his way across the offensive zone, feeding Shane Bakker, who continued to move the puck for Chaz Johnson, who hammered in a one-timer from the front of the net. The IceMen took one more lead, which proved to be too much for Wheeling, as Schepke flipped in a pass from Moon in the left circle for a 4-3 Evansville win.
Clemente picked up a victory for the IceMen, making 23 saves on 26 shots. Mike Condon took the setback for the Nailers, stopping 19 of the 23 shots he faced.
Wheeling1 0 2 - 3
Evansville1 1 2 - 4
1st Period-1, Evansville, Aleardi 6 (Schepke, Barron), 5:27. 2, Wheeling, Kuhnhackl 4 (Ratchuk, Torquato), 19:24 (PP). Penalties-Beaulieu Evn (tripping), 0:42; Leveille Evn (slashing ), 18:44.
2nd Period-3, Evansville, Lynch 12 (King, Larkin), 3:13. Penalties-Sylvester Whl (hooking), 10:04; Stevenson Whl (cross-checking), 17:04; Larkin Evn (cross-checking), 19:27.
3rd Period-4, Wheeling, Gill 11 (Torquato, MacKay), 1:24 (PP). 5, Evansville, Barron 3 (Moon, Currie), 3:20. 6, Wheeling, Johnson 11 (Bakker, Fernandez), 10:36. 7, Evansville, Schepke 23 (Moon, Lowry), 14:03. Penalties-Johnson Whl (roughing), 5:12; Krug Evn (hooking), 16:17.
Shots on Goal-Wheeling 11-5-10-26. Evansville 5-8-10-23.
Power Play Opportunities-Wheeling 2 / 4; Evansville 0 / 3.
Goalies-Wheeling, Condon 19-12-0-4 (23 shots-19 saves). Evansville, Clemente 17-15-0-4 (26 shots-23 saves).
Referees-Andy Thackaberry (22).
Linesmen-Jim Scarpace (50), Matt Spaeth (74).