WHEELING, W.Va.- The 2022-23 Wheeling Nailers continue a disturbing trend. This time the Cincinnati Cyclones capitalized on early opportunities to put the Nailers in a hole and goaltender Mark Sinclair blanked the host for a 4-0 victory.
Cincinnati struck first on a Cody Caron redirection of a Jalen Smereck centering pass that bounded in past Nailer netminder Taylor Gauthier, putting the Nailers in a 1-0 hole.
About ten minutes later a turnover at the offensive blue line for Wheeling put Cincinnati on a breakout. As the Nailers rushed back, Justin Vaive ended up alone in front of Gauthier and tucked the puck in stick side to put the Cyclones up 2-0.
The Nailers only got 4 shots on net in the first period but perhaps the best chance came when Cédric Desruisseaux rang a shot off the crossbar in the middle of the frame. The Nailers were frustrated time and again by Sinclair and the Cyclone defense.
In the second, Wheeling got their game on track only to be bested by Sinclair. Off of Wheeling rushes, the Cyclones also had odd-man breaks and Gauthier was equal to the challenge. At 5:31 of the second Cincinnati broke in 3-on-1, with the Wheeling defender isolating the player on the right side; the two attackers on the left had a 2-on-0 and Gauthier made an outstanding sliding glove save to keep the game 2-0 Cyclones.
“From our standpoint, a few breakdowns, I thought [Gauthier] made some huge saves to keep us in it, and we gave ourselves a chance; we had some really good looks and when you don’t score it changes things,” Nailers Head Coach Derek Army stated after the game.
Cincinnati would convert a 2-on-1 later in the period as Patrick Polino put a Lee Lapid feed into the right side of the net to give the Cyclones a three-goal lead at 14:44 of the second.
The Nailers would fight through to the end, however a second goal from Vaive into the empty net effectively sealed the win for the Cyclones.
For Sinclair, the victory was his first as a professional and his first shutout as he stopped 24 Wheeling shots. Gauthier took the loss, falling to 0-2-0 on the season, making 26 saves on 29 shots faced. Both teams went 0-for-3 on the power play.
Cincinnati will return home to face the Iowa Heartlanders on Saturday night with the face off scheduled for 7:35pm.
Wheeling will have a rare Saturday off and will then return to action against the Heartlanders on Sunday at 4:10pm.
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