Nailers Stun Admirals, 4-3

Bourbonnais nets winning goal in OT

Wheeling’s Cam Brown (left), Jaynen Rissling (right) and Will King (center) defend against Norfolk, Friday.

Wheeling’s Cam Brown (left), Jaynen Rissling (right) and Will King (center) defend against Norfolk, Friday.

WHEELING–There was a party going on at WesBanco Arena on Friday night.

Garrett Meurs celebrated his 25th birthday with a 4-point game and Riley Bourbonnais netted the game-winning goal in overtime as the Nailers erased a 3-0 deficit to rally for a 4-3 win over Norfolk.

The Admirals jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead just 1:17 into the game and netted their third goal only one minute into the second period.

That’s when the momentum changed drastically. After falling three goals behind, Wheeling outshot Norfolk by a 33-14 count the rest of the way en route to its third consecutive win.

“There is no quit in this team and there is a lot of heart,” Nailers coach Jeff Christian said. “The guys kept battling.

“We made an adjustment in the third period. We started positioning our center high, which means we stretched them out a bit but I think it was just executing more than anything. We started to grind more and we made some plays.”

Meurs and Zach Tolkinen helped Wheeling claw its way back into the game with second period goals to trim the deficit to 3-2 and Cam Brown supplied the equalizer 12:05 into the third stanza.

Bourbonnais provided the finishing touches 2:19 into the overtime period when he gathered a helper from Meurs and sent a back-handed shot into the cage to begin the celebration.

“Meurs made a good play,” Bourbonnais said. “He just hit it forward and I just tried to get the puck to the net. Good things happen when you throw it at the net and it just happened to go in.

“(Meurs) was flying out there. He is a great player and it’s great to see him have a night like this.”

Will King was also an ace in the hole for Christian. Colin Stevens made the start between the pipes for Wheeling, after Adam Morrison was called up to Wilkes-Barre Scranton, and allowed two quick goals to start the game.

King was called upon in relief and was flawless, stopping 24 of the 25 shots he faced to earn the win and a start tonight.

“Giving up two goals in the first minute of the game is not something that we wanted to do,” Christian said. “Stevens has to find his game and step up and he knows that.

“King is good in relief. I hope he has a good start (tonight). He had an opportunity a couple of weeks ago and he let a couple of soft goals and that hurt us.

“Our goaltending situation has been a juggling act from the beginning of the season. I thought Morrison did a pretty good job the last two games but he was called up by the American League. But again, it’s up for grabs and somebody has to step up and grab the reigns.”

Wheeling leads the ECHL in power play goal percentage and netted its 34th power play goal of the season when Meurs fired a one-timer from the left circle and off the crossbar and in. Dylan Zink and Nick Sorkin recorded assists on the play.

Later in the second, Tolkinen added a wrist shot from the slot and Brown deadlocked the score when he hauled in a rebound and ripped the puck into the net.

J.C. Campagna, who was acquired Friday from Orlando, paced the Nailers with eight shots.

“Meurs had four points on his birthday,” Christian said. “It was a huge day for him and a great game. Brown was exceptional once again and I thought Campagna made an impact right away, which was great to see after he literally drove all night to get here.

“Then Bobo (Bourbonnais) again. He is so hot right now and he just gets the job done.”

Norfolk Admirals 3 at Wheeling Nailers 4 (OT) – Status: Final OT

Friday, January 12, 2018 – WesBanco Arena

Norfolk 2 1 0 0 – 3

Wheeling 0 2 1 1 – 4

1st Period-1, Norfolk, Dupont 12 (Horn, Besse), 0:41. 2, Norfolk, Alberga 6 (Pompeo), 1:17. Penalties-Meurs Whl (tripping), 11:36; Mueller Nor (roughing), 16:40.

2nd Period-3, Norfolk, Angeli 13 (Rey, Melancon), 1:00. 4, Wheeling, Meurs 15 (Zink), 6:44 (PP). 5, Wheeling, Tolkinen 3 (Meurs), 13:29. Penalties-Sorkin Whl (elbowing), 2:38; Rey Nor (slashing), 5:12; Rissling Whl (hooking), 9:09; Pompeo Nor (hooking), 19:45.

3rd Period-6, Wheeling, Brown 10 (Meurs, Rissling), 12:05. Penalties-Vandergunst Nor (fighting – major), 4:45; Turner Whl (fighting – major), 4:45.

OT Period-7, Wheeling, Bourbonnais 12 (Meurs), 2:19. Penalties-No Penalties

Shots on Goal-Norfolk 14-10-5-0-29. Wheeling 13-13-18-2-46.

Power Play Opportunities-Norfolk 0 / 3; Wheeling 1 / 3.

Goalies-Norfolk, Murray 3-5-2-1 (46 shots-42 saves). Wheeling, Stevens 2-2-2-0 (4 shots-2 saves); King 5-3-1-0 (25 shots-24 saves).

A-1,352

Referees-Stephen Thomson (27).

Linesmen-Ryan Fitzgerald (63), Joe Sherman (46).

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