Nailers Clinch Playoffs with 5-3 Win in Elmira
ELMIRA, NY- It took until game 71, but for the 13th time in the 23-year history of hockey in Wheeling, the Nailers have punched their ticket to the playoffs. Five different players lit the lamp on Saturday night, including Adam Krause, who snapped a 3-3 tie with 4:53 left in regulation, giving the Nailers a 5-3 victory over the Elmira Jackals at First Arena.
The Nailers had some great opportunities to take the lead in the early going, but three unsuccessful power plays opened the door for Elmira. With 1:53 remaining in the opening stanza, the Jackals got the scoring started. Trevor Gerling absorbed a huge hit, but managed to move the puck to Mitch Holmberg on the left side. Holmberg dished a pass through the slot to Jacob MacDonald, who banged in a shot on the right side of the crease.
The second period was a different story for Wheeling, who grabbed the lead with two goals in the first 5:05. The first marker came off of a 2-on-1 rush, as Sahir Gill led the charge on the right side, slipping a pass through the slot, which was finished off by David Gilbert. The second tally made its way into the net 1:45 later, as Chaz Johnson gobbled up a loose puck in the slot, roofing a shot over Nick Niedert's right shoulder. The Jackals brought the score back to even 1:59 after that, when Ryan Rashid fished a puck out of a pile in front of the crease, flipping a backhander over a sprawled out Franky Palazzese. With 1:40 remaining in the frame, the Nailers retook the lead, with a helping hand from the rink, as Paul Cianfrini's left point shot kicked off of the end wall, then off of Niedert's back, and finally into the cage.
The crazy bounce did not end up being the game winning goal, as the Jackals drew even with a power play marker at 14:35 of the third. Nick Tuzzolino's right point wrister was redirected in by Lucas Bloodoff, temporarily making the score 3-3. 32 seconds later, Wheeling went back on top, as Sahir Gill's initial shot got stopped, but Adam Krause was in perfect position to knock in the rebound for a 4-3 advantage. Tyler Fernandez put the final touches on the postseason berth, as his empty netter gave the game a 5-3 final score.
Franky Palazzese earned his 20th win of the season in goal for Wheeling, thwarting 25 of the 28 shots he faced. Former Nailer Nick Niedert turned in a 37-save effort for Elmira, but got saddled with the loss.
The Nailers will end the regular season in Brampton on Sunday at 2:00, before starting the playoffs next week.
The Nailers will open the 2015 Kelly Cup Playoffs against the Toledo Walleye. Dates and times for the series will be released in the coming days.
Wheeling Nailers 2015-16 season tickets, as well as flex tickets, group tickets and single-game tickets for 2014-15 are on sale now. For more information, call 304-234-GOAL or visit wheelingnailers.com.
Listen to all Nailers regular season and post-season games live on the Valley's rock station EAGLE 107.5 FM, on www.iheartradio.com or watch live on www.echl.tv. Catch every road game live on WLUTV on Comcast Cable 14.
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