O'Connor Backstops Nailers to Shootout Win
CINCINNATI, OH - The Wheeling Nailers ended the preseason on a positive note on Saturday night, as they exacted revenge on the Cincinnati Cyclones at U.S. Bank Arena. Matt O'Connor was perfect on 23 shots during the final 34:32 of game action, then went on to make four saves in the shootout. Josh Couturier and Mark Petaccio both scored in regulation for the Nailers, before Mike Fazio netted the winning marker in round five of a 3-2 road triumph.
Both teams lit the lamp in the first period, with the goals coming 34 seconds apart from each other. Wheeling was first on the board at the 8:14 mark, courtesy of a power play strike. Robbie Hall reached out to keep the play alive at the blueline, deflecting the puck over to Josh Couturier on the left side. Couturier sailed a wrist shot through traffic and into the cage. Cincinnati's response also came from a defenseman. Dominic Zombo raced in with a backhander, which was stopped, but the rebound kicked out to Arvin Atwal, who slammed it home.
The Cyclones scored an early goal in the middle frame to take the lead. Devante Stephens' shot zipped wide of the net, but Spencer Dorowicz quickly fed the loose puck into the slot for Alex Roos, who stashed a shot into the left side of the net. With 1:30 left in the period, the Nailers pulled even. Mark Petaccio made a beautiful steal in the slot, then slid the puck from his forehand to his backhand, faking out Michael Houser for the tally.
Neither team was able to dent the twine in the third period or overtime, sending the tilt to a shootout. Arvin Atwal scored in the second round for Cincinnati and Eliot Grauer lit the lamp in the third round for Wheeling, as extra rounds were necessary. Matt O'Connor denied Alex Roos in round five, setting the table for Mike Fazio, who converted on the winner for the Nailers.
Matt O'Connor was spectacular in goal for Wheeling, stopping all 23 shots he faced in the game, as well as four of five shootout attempts. Evan Cowley was 17-of-19 as the starter. Michael Houser took the shootout loss with 14 saves on 15 shots in the game, following Jonas Johansson, who turned away nine of the ten shots he faced.
The Wheeling Nailers will begin the 2018-19 regular season on October 13th, when they visit the Norfolk Admirals. Wheeling's first home game will take place on November 3rd against the Indy Fuel. The Wheeling Nailers, considered one of the top things to do in Wheeling, West Virginia, provide affordable family entertainment for fans throughout the Ohio Valley. For information on season tickets, group tickets, flex plans, and more, call (304) 234-GOAL.
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