WHEELING, W.Va.- Special teams and missed opportunities can frustrate a coaching staff. Early failures on the man-advantage, along with key stops by Komet goaltender Samuel Harvey, who stopped 46 of 48 shots faced, and some undisciplined hockey at the end of the night spell disaster for the Nailers in the home opener of the 30th season on hockey in Wheeling and the Komets downed the Nailers 5-2
Wheeling controlled much of the play throughout the game and held the Komets to just 25 shots. However, a goal at the end of the second to tie 2-2 and then two quick goals to start the third for Fort Wayne proved to be a hole Wheeling couldn’t climb out of.
Nailers head coach Derek Army stated, “The goal at the end of the second was a little bit of a [let down], just like hey we got to bounce back, and we did. I thought we had a good response in the second. In the third, we lost the first six faceoffs, so you lose possession right off the hop and we got to be smart in those situations. We are a hard-nosed team, but we can’t be undisciplined.”
The Komets took advantage of the undisciplined play of the Nailers that Army mentioned as the first goal of the third period was on a delayed penalty 6-on-5 situation and it was former Nailer Blake Siebenaler who fired home a rebound to put the visitors in front for good at 2:31 of the third. The insurance goal was scored 2:04 later when Matt Alvaro forced a Nailer turnover in the defensive zone and converted his opportunity.
As the Nailers tried to get back into the game Army stated, “I think we took a couple of undisciplined penalties so that’s an area…you know we are an emotional team, but we can’t let our emotions get the best of us.”
For the first two periods, the Nailers controlled the play. Much of the game was played in the Wheeling offensive zone. The Nailers were unable to convert on three first period power plays, with Harvey stopping several grade-a scoring chances. For the Komets, they were able to convert their only power play in that first period.
In the second the Nailers were able to build a 2-1 lead as Dylan MacPherson and Shaw Boomhower lit the lamp for the hosts however a late period goal by Stephen Harper, who also added an empty-net goal in the third, tied the game before the second intermission.
“Just like in the first game against them,” Army said, “up 2-1 I’d like to see us bear down and get another. Looking at it 5-on-5, I really liked our game. They scored a 4-on-4 goal and the 6-on-5 with the goalie pulled goal; some special situation and they scored a power-play goal. So, 5-on-5 I liked our game, there are things we got to get better at; and for me if you have a power play you have to change momentum you got to score. Right now, I think our power play is muttering along and we got to find a way to get more pucks in.”
The Nailers finished the night 1-for-6 on the man advantage and killed three of the four penalties whistled against them. Tommy Nappier stopped 20 of the 24 shots he faced in the defeat.
The Nailers host the Indy Fuel this afternoon, with puck drop scheduled for 4:10 pm at WesBanco Arena. The defending Kelly Cup champions travel to Toledo to rekindle the rivalry with the Walleye and have a 5:15 pm ET faceoff at Huntington Center.
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