Wheeling Haults Adirondack, 6-4
WHEELING — Shane Conacher skated into the offensive zone all alone on a penalty shot and tried to wait out Wheeling goaltender Sean Maguire, who never budged. That pad save, with the Nailers trailing 2-1 in a second period that had seen Adirondack severely tilt the ice in its favor, served as the catalyst for an Education Day victory.
Rookie Freddie Tiffels had a three-point morning and Cody Wydo scored a pair of goals as North Division-loeading Wheeling (8-2-2 — 18) held on for a 6-4 victory Tuesday in front of a packed house at WesBanco Arena.
“I thought he made a huge save there,” Nailers coach Jeff Christian said. “We didn’t play well for about the first 15 minutes of the second period … I think we only had two shots.
“Then we got back on the grind and our skill took over.”
Exactly one minute after Maguire’s stop – he ended with 34 on 38 shots – Wydo tied the game by extending his point streak to nine games. Nick Sorkin won a faceoff cleanly to Wydo, who whipped in front of Thunder (7-5-2 – 16) goaltender Drew Fielding before lifting the puck high into the net on a backhander for his sixth goal of the season.
Defenseman Dan Milan gave Wheeling the lead for good as his left-point wrist shot with Derek Army providing a screen, got past Fielding for his first goal in a Nailers uniform at 17:13 of the second.
Wydo then made it 4-2, skating into the zone on his off-wing and electing to again go high on the Adirondack goaltender.
“I thought Cody Wydo was obviously a difference-maker,” Christian said. “Another two big goals that he basically created.
“We’ve got good depth and when we get the goaltending we have a chance to be successful.”
Wheeling’s top-ranked power play struck to make it 6-2. Cam Brown, who had a goal called back in the first period and finished with two assists, whipped the puck cross-ice to captain Derek Army who deposited his fourth of the season at 9:13 of the third.
Adirondack got one back on the power play as the Nailers began to take penalties. Conacher beat Maguire at 12:49.
“I wasn’t real happy with the way we finished down the stretch,” Christian said. “We took some penalties, but it’s a tough game.
“That was the message, to keep your faces because it’s a mental grind.”
Tiffels notched his second of the day and third of the season at 14:23 as the Nailers answered. In four games for Wheeling, Tiffels has accumulated six points (3g-3a).
“Obviously the kid has a lot of skill and a lot of heart,” Christian said. “But he’s not just getting the fancy, end-to-end goals
“He’s going to the net and getting the bounces.
“He’s an elite player at this level, for sure.”
Fielding took the loss, stopping 22 of the 28 shots he faced. Garrett Meurs added two assists for the Nailers, including one on the lone goal of the first period. Breaking in on a 2-on-1, Meurs waited until the last second before feeding the puck over to Tiffels, who deflected it into the cage.
It is an important two points against a divisional opponent.
“I said to the guys afterward that it’s a must-win after we won,” Christian said. “If we didn’t win it’s like, ‘don’t worry about it.’
“Honestly, we needed that one because we only get to play within our division 50 percent of the time.”
Adirondack 0 2 2 — 4
Wheeling 1 2 3 — 6
1st Period-1, Wheeling, Tiffels 2 (Meurs), 12:43. Penalties-Neiley Adk (slashing), 16:19.
2nd Period-2, Adirondack, Olsen 2 (Lough, Conacher), 5:16 (PP). 3, Adirondack, Neiley 6 (Lough, Henry), 6:58. 4, Wheeling, Wydo 6 (Sorkin), 15:55. 5, Wheeling, Milan 1 (Bourbonnais, Fejes), 17:13. Penalties-Orszulak Adk (fighting – major), 2:33; Beirnes Whl (fighting – major), 2:33; Taylor Whl (slashing), 4:02; Fejes Whl (high-sticking), 13:03; Fick Whl (penalty shot – slashing), 15:05; Rodrigues Adk (slashing), 19:20.
3rd Period-6, Wheeling, Wydo 7 (Gardiner), 1:59. 7, Wheeling, Army 4 (Brown, Tiffels), 7:13 (PP). 8, Adirondack, Conacher 3 (Henry, Olsen), 12:49 (PP). 9, Wheeling, Tiffels 3 (Meurs, Brown), 14:23. 10, Adirondack, Wallin 6 (Conacher, Riley), 18:25 (SH). Penalties-Loney Adk (charging), 5:14; Orszulak Adk (roughing), 10:26; Milan Whl (roughing), 10:26; Taylor Whl (roughing), 10:26; Wydo Whl (hooking), 11:58; Loney Adk (fighting – major), 15:11; Tolkinen Whl (fighting – major), 15:11; Meurs Whl (slashing), 16:21; Ward Adk (elbowing), 16:51.
Shots on Goal-Adirondack 13-14-11-38. Wheeling 13-9-6-28.
Power-Play Opportunities-Adirondack 2-5; Wheeling 1-4.
Goalies-Adirondack, Fielding 1-1-0-0 (28 shots-22 saves). Wheeling, Maguire 5-2-0-0 (38 shots-34 saves).
Referee-Jonathan Sitarski (23). Linesmen-Michael Fusani (41), Zach Roberts (84).