Nailers Battle Back in 3rd, Lose in Shootout

“They (The Nailers) can play with anyone. They can beat anybody.” Those are the words of Clark Donatelli, the second year head coach of the Wheeling Nailers after his team lost 4-3 to the Florida Everblades at WesBanco Arena on Friday night. Although you typically do not hear words like that after a loss, Donatelli was extremely proud of his team as they almost defeated Florida, who won the Kelly Cup last season.

In the first period, the Nailers came out slow and found themselves down by a score of 3-0 at the end of the period. Justin Shugg started the scoring when he scored at 8:50 of the first period. 18 seconds later, Bobby Raymond put the puck behind Nailers’ goaltender Scott Darling to give the Everblades a 2-0 lead. At 12:53, Shugg scored again as Florida took a commanding 3-0 lead.

With the Nailers in desperate need of a goal, Wheeling looked like an entirely different team in the second period. They possessed the puck for most of the period and created many scoring opportunities. Carl Sneep, a prospect from the Pittsburgh Penguins, scored a power-play goal on a one timer at 7:04 to get the Nailers on the scoreboard. The goal signaled the crowd to start throwing teddy bears on to the ice as it was “Teddy Bear Toss Night” at WesBanco Arena. All of the teddy bears will be donated to charity. When the game resumed, the Nailers kept throwing pucks at Florida’s goaltender John Muse.

At 6:26 of the third period, Scott Zurevinski beat Muse from the right circle to cut Wheeling’s deficit to one goal. The building started to get louder and louder as the Nailers had made it a new hockey game again. Chris Higgins, a forward who the Nailers acquired in a trade with the Utah Grizzlies last Friday, made his Nailers debut quite memorable. With only 30 seconds left in the third period and Darling on the bench, Zurevinski took a shot at the net and Higgins put the rebound in to tie the game at three. The Everblades were stunned as the teams were now forced to go to overtime.

Although the Nailers had some great chances to win the game in overtime, neither team scored. A shootout would determine the winner. Out of ten attempts, only Brayden Irwin‘s went in to the net as the Everblades won the shootout 1-0, which gave them a 4-3 victory. The Nailers did earn a point since the game went beyond regulation. Florida improved to 9-8-5 as Wheeling fell to 6-8-4 on the young season. The two teams will face off again tonight at 7:00 in Wheeling.

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