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 Wheeling Nailers

Walleye Collect First Road Win of Series

May 8, 2024 - ECHL (ECHL)
Wheeling Nailers News Release

Wheeling Nailers battle the Toledo Walleye
Wheeling Nailers battle the Toledo Walleye
(Wheeling Nailers)

WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers have some work to do in the Central Division Final Series, as the Toledo Walleye were victorious for the third time in the set on Wednesday night - the first contest at WesBanco Arena. Toledo went 3-for-5 on the power play, while receiving a five-point performance from Riley Sawchuk and a four-point effort from Sam Craggs in a 7-3 win over the Nailers. Matt Koopman, David Drake, and Matthew Quercia were the Wheeling goal scorers.

Toledo set the tone on the offensive side of the puck during the first period, as the visitors built a 3-1 lead. The opening marker came off of a Wheeling turnover, as Riley Sawchuk swept the puck away inside of his own blueline, took himself on a breakaway, and sniped a wrist shot into the top-right corner of the cage. In the latter half of the period, the Walleye upped their lead on the power play. Sam Craggs grabbed the puck off of the right corner boards, turned on the jets toward the net, and stuffed a shot through Jaxon Castor. Wheeling answered with a shorthanded strike 1:18 later. Matthew Quercia lobbed a pass ahead to Matt Koopman, who broke behind the defense, faked to his backhand, and lifted his attempt into the top pocket of the twine. With 1:41 remaining, Toledo regained its two-goal edge. Craggs tied up a face-off on the right dot, which allowed Brandon Kruse to snatch the loose puck, dance to his left, and lift a shot into the right side of the net.

Both sides found the back of the net twice in the middle frame, as the Walleye extended their lead a couple of times, before the Nailers responded on each occasion. Brandon Hawkins cashed in on a 5-on-3 for Toledo at the 3:33 mark, when he zipped in a low wrist shot from the bottom of the left circle. David Drake answered that marker for Wheeling, as he took a feed from Lukas Svejkovsky and took advantage of some extra space below the left face-off dot to toss a shot into the left side of the goal. Sawchuk netted his second of the contest on another Walleye power play, as he clobbered a one-timer from the bottom of the right circle into the top-left corner of the cage. Matthew Quercia got that tally back for the Nailers, as he crashed the goal and forced in a setup from Davis Bunz.

Alexandre Doucet and Craggs tacked on empty netters for Toledo to cap off the 7-3 final score.

John Lethemon collected the win for the Walleye, as he turned aside 19 of the 22 shots he faced. Jaxon Castor suffered the defeat for Wheeling, as he made 16 saves on 21 shots, before giving way to Garret Sparks, who was 7-for-7 in relief.

The Central Division Final Series will continue at WesBanco Arena with game four on Friday night at 7:10. That will be a Frosty Friday, featuring $2 beer specials. To purchase tickets for the playoffs or for any questions or concerns about ticketing, please visit or call (304) 234-GOAL. 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.


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Wheeling Nailers battle the Toledo Walleye
Wheeling Nailers battle the Toledo Walleye


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