Nailers Stay Hot in Win
WHEELING — The ice stayed cold and the Wheeling Nailers remained hot in Wednesday’s 3-1 victory over Indy.
After having their last two games canceled due to ice issues, everything went perfectly smooth on this night.
“They brought somebody in who seemed to have an idea of what to do to alleviate the problem,” Nailers coach Mark French said. “I’m not 100 percent sure but it seemed to be just fine (Wednesday).”
Wheeling forward Patrick Watling added: “The ice was up to par, which is refreshing.”
With the win, the Nailers have now won five of their last six games and are riding a six-game point streak.
Shane Starrett picked up the win in net as he secured 25 saves and allowed just one shot to get by him.
“Every game has been a little different,” French said.
“Our goaltending has been good as of late and Shane has carried the bulk of the work. He’s a proven goalie both at this level and the American League level. I’m sure he’s starting to feel a little more comfortable.”
The Wheeling defense provided great help to Starrett on both sides of the puck as defenseman Patrick McNally netted the first goal of the game at the 14:45 mark of the first when he took a feed from Joshua Winquist and lit the lamp from in front of the cage.
“Patrick has an offensive side to his game from the back end,” French said. “You rely on his instincts a little bit for him to choose his times.”
Indy evened the score in the second on a power play goal by Willie Raskob but the Nailers’ penalty kill came up big later in the period.
Just moments after killing off an Indy power play, Watling corralled the puck, zipped it to teammate Vladislav Mikhalchuk in the left circle, who returned it to Watling. The Nailers’ forward fired a shot into the back of the net for what proved to be the game-winner with 2:58 left in the second.
“We just got entry and stuck with it,” Watling said. “There was a little bit of a fumble but everyone stayed with it and we just ended up finding each other and going to the net.”
French believes the penalty kill was a great momentum boost leading up to the goal.
“That’s what you hope for from the penalty kill,” French said. “Our penalty kill did a good job there and the very next shift we were able to capitalize and score. It was a good opportunity to use that momentum and the guys who came in after were able to score that goal.”
Team captain Austin Fyten added insurance with his 18th goal of the season in the third, which is tied for the team-lead with Cody Sylvester.
“It was nice to take the lead going into the third but I thought we did a nice job of managing that lead,” French said. “It was certainly nice to see us score to eventually get the two-score lead again.
“It wasn’t a perfect effort but in these situations, I guess the two points are the most valuable thing.”