Killeen Strong As Wheeling Sweeps Reading

WHEELING – When Ethan Cox beat Wheeling goaltender Patrick Killeen 11 seconds into Saturday night’s meeting with Reading at WesBanco Arena, many in attendance got the felling it was going to be one of those nights. Killeen himself, though, wasn’t one of those folks.

The third-year Nailer (2-3-1 – 5) rebounded to stop 38 shots and another four in a shootout as Wheeling completed a weekend sweep of the Royals (1-4-1 – 3) with a 3-2 victory.

”That kind of goal isn’t really anyone’s fault, it’s just the way it went,” Killeen said. ”I thought the guys did a really good job recovering from that, too, and we put together a pretty solid 60 minutes.”

It wasn’t the Nailers’ best work by any stretch, but it was enough to earn a second consecutive victory. They did it with nine forwards for the majority of the night after Bobby Farnham was hit with a game misconduct for an equipment violation following his second fight in as many nights with the Royals’ David Marshall.

The fact Wheeling was able to battle back from deficits of 1-0 and 2-1, was particularly telling to coach Clark Donatelli.

”There’s going to be games throughout the season when we play really well and don’t win, so I am not going to complain,” Donatelli said. ”It was an ugly win, but we’ll take it.

”We did make a lot of mistakes, but I think some of that is guys are tired. It’s a good character win.”

A night after potting four power-play goals, the Nailers came up empty in five chances Saturday, but they managed to shut out the Royals on just as many opportunities.

”I didn’t think we shot the puck,” Donatelli said. ”They collapsed down and we weren’t shooting. We were trying to thread the needle.

”When a team collapses like that, you have to shoot the puck (because) it will get them running around a little bit.”

Wheeling managed to get the equalizer before the end of the first period as Cody Chupp got the puck ahead to Philippe Lefebvre on a partial breakaway. With a defender on his back, Lefebvre somehow slipped the puck past Reading goaltender and former Nailer Nick Neidert on the backhand for his first of the season at 17:07.

The Nailers threatened to take the lead almost nine minutes into the second period when Chupp set up Paul Crowder on a backdoor feed, only to see Niedert slide across his crease to make an acrobatic save.

It was one of 20 saves for Niedert.

”I thought he played great,” Killeen said of his counterpart. ”I made sure I went down and told him how well he played and that I am happy for him.

”He deserves to get some ice.”

The Royals took the lead back at the 16:31 mark as Brett Flemming’s point shot was deflected into the net by Alex Berry. That’s the way it stayed until there was 7:01 left.

Ian Schultz led a 4-on-2 into the zone before having the puck pokechecked away, but it went right to Wheeling’s Stefan Chaput, who wristed a shot off Niedert’s pad from the slot. The puck came right back to Chaput and he put home his second of the season. Paul Cianfrini had the secondary assist.

”I went seven-hole, right under his blocker,” Chaput said. ”It was kind of a lucky bounce, but I got the puck back and was happy to get the tying goal.

”There was too many guys in front of the net so I just tried to keep it low.”

Killeen came up with eight stops in overtime, then watched as Cam Fergus beat Niedert in the shootout for the winner. Chaput added another for good measure.

”At first I didn’t think it was in, but I saw the referee point,” said Chaput, who tucked the puck under the crossbar. ”That is kind of my move, to go backhand-forehand and go (top) shelf.

”We came into this weekend with no wins, so we knew we had to have a good effort.”