Hawkins Delivers Hat Trick for Nailers In Win Over Wings
WHEELING — The Wheeling Nailers started their three-in-three home weekend in fine fashion on Friday night, as they took down the Kalamazoo Wings, 6-2 at WesBanco Arena. Brandon Hawkins led the offensive attack with the team’s first hat trick of the regular season, and was complemented by a three-point night from Myles Powell. Jordan Ruby held the fort on the other end of the ice, making 27 saves for the win.
The first eight minutes of action were electric, as the teams combined for five goals, with the Nailers taking a 3-2 lead into the intermission. Kalamazoo struck first at the 2:51 mark, as Yannick Veilleux drove to the net to deposit the rebound of Justin Taylor’s initial attempt. Wheeling responded 41 seconds later, when Jan Drozg slid in a cross-crease pass from Renars Krastenbergs. After that, Hawkins took over, denting the twine twice in a span of 29 seconds. His first was a one-timer from Christopher Brown, then his second was a wrist shot from the left circle. The Wings trimmed the margin to one on Zach Saar’s power play marker from the top of the crease.
The Nailers added a couple of insurance tallies in the middle frame. At the 10:48 mark, Cam Brown battled a puck out of the right corner, then fed Ryan Scarfo, who spun in a shorthanded goal from the low slot. Less than four minutes after that, Powell slammed in a Yushiroh Hirano feed, which was originally created by Aaron Titcomb’s long shot from the right side.
In addition to the win, the only item left to finish off was Hawkins’ hat trick. With 5:49 left, the hats flew down from the stands at WesBanco Arena, as Hawkins threw in a wrist shot from the blueline, putting the final touches on Wheeling’s 6-2 triumph.
Ruby backstopped the victory for the Nailers, turning away 27 of the 29 shots he faced. Jake Hildebrand took the loss for Kalamazoo, allowing six goals on 26 shots.
The Nailers and Wings will do battle again on 7:05 tonight as part of Be Our Neighbor Night. The Nailers will wear special jerseys, fans can visit both Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, there will be a trolley ornament giveaway, and it’s the annual Teddy Bear Toss game.