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Sylvester Lifts Wheeling Nailers in Overtime

Photo by Joe Lovell Wheeling’s Brad Drobot, left, celebrates with Cody Sylvester, who delivered the game-winning goal in overtime on Wednesday.

WHEELING — The Wheeling Nailers were bound and determined to earn their fourth victory in a row on Wednesday night, and it took some late game magic against the Fort Wayne Komets at WesBanco Arena. Cody Sylvester tied the score with 1:08 remaining, then netted the game winning goal at 1:41 of overtime, as the Nailers were victorious, 4-3. Matt Alfaro factored into all of the goals, as he collected four points.

The first period featured a lot of defense, as the two teams combined for just nine shots on goal. One of those pucks found the back of the net on a Fort Wayne power play at the 7:35 mark. Brandon Hawkins picked up steam as he drove in on the left side of the offensive zone. That allowed him to get a step toward the net, as he shoveled in the opening strike.

A couple of defensemen rose to the occasion in the middle frame, as the two teams exchanged goals two minutes apart. At the 4:16 mark, Matt Alfaro led the charge down the left side of the ice, before he sifted a pass through the top of the crease for Matt Miller’s one-timer from the bottom of the right circle. Blake Siebenaler regained the lead for the Komets, when Anthony Nellis’ pass was blocked by a Wheeling defender, but went out to Siebenaler who whipped in a wrist shot.

The Nailers showed tons of heart in the third period, as they came back twice to force overtime. Alfaro evened the score the first time, when he finished off a 2-on-1 rush with Cody Sylvester by ripping in a wrist shot from the left circle. Jackson Leef had a quick answer for Fort Wayne, as he deposited the rebound of Siebenaler’s initial attempt. With under two minutes to play, the Komets took a penalty, and Wheeling needed all of three seconds to knot it up. Patrick Watling helped Alfaro win a face-off back to Sylvester, who stepped into a missile, which was launched into the bottom-right corner of the cage.

The Nailers did a tremendous job of possessing the puck in the extra session, and it ultimately resulted in the deciding goal at the 1:41 mark. Alfaro skated the puck into the left corner for Dylan MacPherson, who was fresh on the ice. MacPherson quickly found Sylvester in the slot, and when you’re hot, you’re hot, as he zipped in his eight goal in eight games for the 4-3 triumph.

Shane Starrett made 25 saves on 28 shots in the win for Wheeling, including a pair of key stops late in the second period. Jeremy Helvig took the overtime defeat for the Komets, as he surrendered four goals on 19 shots.

The Nailers will continue their longest homestand of the season with a three-game weekend, all against the South Carolina Stingrays. Frosty Friday gets things started at 7:10, then Saturday’s match also features a 7:10 face-off, before the series concludes on Sunday at 4:10. A limited number of tickets are available for Wheeling Nailers home games, and season memberships and flex packs are also available. To purchase yours or to get more information, visit wheelingnailers.com or call (304) 234-GOAL.

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