Wheeling Nails Down Comeback, 4-2

Nailers Secure 11th Comeback Victory of Season

Photo by Joe Lovell Wheeling’s Chris Francis (right) and Norfolk’s T.J. Melancon battle for position during Saturday’s ECHL game at WesBanco Arena.

WHEELING–You could feel the energy building inside WesBanco Arena on Saturday night heading into the third period.

The Nailers have made a living off of come from behind wins this year and everybody knew it.

With Norfolk leading 2-1 after two periods of play, Wheeling rallied once again for their 11th comeback victory of the season by a 4-2 final.

In the third stanza, Wheeling turned up the heat on a cold night with 20 shots on goal, while holding the Admirals to just 11.

“We kind of juggled the lines up in the third period but we just stayed with it,” Wheeling coach Jeff Christian said.

“I felt we had a lot of chances in the second, especially early in the second but we knew they were tired.

“They’ve been on the road awhile and playing shorthanded so we just felt like if we could stay on it, we would get a couple of bounces and we did.

“It was a complete effort from top to bottom. Everybody contributed in a positive way and we are really happy with the outcome.”

J.C. Campagna kicked off the rally 11:09 into the third when he netted his seventh goal of the season and first with the Nailers. The goal was set up by Dylan Zink, who fired a dart towards the net and Campagna was there to knock it out of thin air and into the net for the equalizer.

With overtime looming, Garrett Meurs blasted a shot at the net but was turned away. Cam Brown would not be, as he gathered the rebound and drove it into the cage for the game-winning goal with 2:00 showing on the clock.

“Meurs had it in the neutral zone and he came wide and threw it on the net,” Brown said. “We got a fortunate bounce that went off my skate and I just threw it on the net and luckily it went in.

“We are a resilient group and we’ve been trying to stick with it all year. If we get down, we are not really worried as a group. We just keep doing what we’re doing and work hard. Fortunately, we got the win.”

Campagna delivered an insurance goal 47 seconds later as he raced towards an empty net and supplied the dagger. He also led the team with nine shots on goal in his second game with the team.

“My teammates create a lot of space for me,” Campagna said. “I just put it to the net and good things happen when you put it to the net.

“We don’t want to get down early but winning is fun. I forgot what it’s like to win after being out for almost a month with an injury but this was a fun weekend for me.

“This was a fun experience and I’m happy to be here. This is a great group of guys that welcomed me right in and there have been nothing but positives in my first two games.”

Will King earned the win in the crease for the Nailers by collecting 37 of the 39 shots he faced, while Ty Reichenbach stopped 44 of the 47 shots on goal for Norfolk.

“Reichenbach was the goalie of the week there and he’s been hot,” Christian said. “I just felt like we were shooting right at him.

“We say he has a strong chest. If you hit anybody in the chest, they are going to stop it. It’s just a matter of learning to take your time, get your head up and pick your spot.”

Dan Milan gave Wheeling the lead in a chippy opening frame when he grabbed a rebound and found the back of the net, before Norfolk recorded a pair of goals in the second period just 1:15 apart.

The Nailers are now 5-0 at home in January and are riding a 4-game winning streak into the All-Star break.

“It feels good,”Christian said. “We don’t look at it as a streak. We just take it one shift, one period and one game at a time. That’s the focus.

“It’s nice we had a decent crowd (Saturday) and we had a nice come from behind win.

“We are going to go home to our friends and families and you always want to go on a positive note. That’s just the way we are.”

Wheeling 4, Norfolk 2

Norfolk 0 2 0 – 2

Wheeling 1 0 3 – 4

1st Period-1, Wheeling, Milan 4 (Gardiner, Sorkin), 13:44. Penalties-Rey Nor (roughing), 3:35; Milan Whl (roughing), 3:35; Schulze Whl (cross-checking), 4:05; Vandergunst Nor (fighting – major), 7:52; Beirnes Whl (fighting – major), 7:52; Zink Whl (closing hand on puck), 17:58.

2nd Period-2, Norfolk, Pompeo 3 (Alberga, Melancon), 5:25. 3, Norfolk, D’Amico 8 (Young, Olivieri), 6:40. Penalties-D’Amico Nor (roughing), 14:13.

3rd Period-4, Wheeling, Campagna 7 (Zink, Schulze), 11:09. 5, Wheeling, Brown 11 (Meurs, Fick), 18:00. 6, Wheeling, Campagna 8 (Tolkinen, Josephs), 18:47 (EN). Penalties-Fick Whl (high-sticking), 7:13.

Shots on Goal-Norfolk 15-13-11-39. Wheeling 12-16-20-48.

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

Goalies-Norfolk, Reichenbach 9-10-2-0 (47 shots-44 saves). Wheeling, King 6-3-1-0 (39 shots-37 saves).


Referees-Andrea Barone (15).

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