Nailers Victorious, 3-2
WHEELING – It had been 12 years since Ben Farrer last played defense, but with Wheeling in a tough spot in Orlando with only four healthy blue liners on the roster, the alternate captain took it upon himself to answer the call.
The leader of a penalty kill that had stuffed the opposition 25 times in a row coming into Friday night’s matchup with Bakersfield at WesBanco Arena, Farrer has played the last four games out of position.
”You don’t really forget how to play,” Farrer said after the Nailers (19-14-8 – 46) earned a 3-2 victory against the Condors (12-28-4 – 28). ”It’s the same system, you’ve just got to know where to be and help out your partner.
”There’s times I catch myself out there and I feel like I’m a step or two behind where I would normally be if I was still playing forward. It’s been a little while.”
Farrer was even Friday night and didn’t score a point, but that’s not what he’s getting paid to do these days. Instead, the Providence College product left the goal scoring up to guys like Zach Hansen, Matt Germain and Christiaan Minella.
That proved a wise decision as the Nailers earned their 17th home victory ahead of a test against Trenton tonight on the road, where they’ve won just twice.
”I don’t know if teams just don’t like coming here, but it’s a smaller ice surface,” said Germain, who notched his second goal of the season at 16:14 of the first, taking a pass from Chris Barton at center and beating Bakersfield goaltender Scott Greenham by wristing the puck off the farside post and in. ”It was a great play by Barton and I just fired it to the open spot.”
Hansen, who has been red-hot lately, had given the Nailers a 1-0 lead 4:52 into the contest when he scored on on a slapshot from the right point off a set face-off play. It was his fifth of the season and was assisted by Zach Torquato, who won the draw.
”It’s easy to look at the offensive-zone plays that score goals. But every draw out there we’ve got to have a plan,” Wheeling assistant coach Zach Sonnefeld said. ”When they work out like that it’s obvious, but there’s a lot of other draws we do that aren’t so obvious, but we get the puck in the zone and 30 seconds later we score a goal.
”(Hansen’s) our best D-man right now. We’re going to ride him as long as we can.”
Speaking of Torquato, he was given a five-minute boarding major and a game misconduct for a dangerous hit on Condors defenseman Scott Enders, who had to be helped to the dressing room and didn’t return.
”I haven’t seen it on tape but I don’t think it was very good,” Sonnefeld said. ”We were lucky with the way the roster is we had extra forwards.
”But it’s the same thing whether they’re called up, they get thrown out … we’re an organization that top to bottom it doesn’t matter who, when you’re time is called you’ve got to go out there and play well.”
That threatened to end Wheeling’s penalty-killing run, but goaltender Scott Darling came up with some big saves, including one on Francis Verrault on the first shift. Darling made 28 stops to earn his ninth victory.
”That’s a tough one to have early in the game. It kind of kills the momentum,” Germain said of the Torquato penalty.
”(Darling) made a lot of big saves for us. They had a lot of Grade-A chances and could have taken the lead early, but he kept us in it.
Peter Boyd and Nicholas Tremblay scored their 12th and sixth goals of the season, respectively, for Bakersfield, but Minella split those two by potting his sixth off a nice play by Paul Crowder setting things up. Boyd’s goal was on the power play, breaking the Nailers’ streak at 26 in a row.
”We definitely didn’t play our best. We looked rusty – we looked like we had three days off,” Sonnefeld said. ”Finally in the third we beared down and started to play better, kind of shut it down.
”We’ve been in these situations before when you could tell it just wasn’t good. The bench stayed positive and we were able to get two points.