WHEELING, WV — The Wheeling Nailers and Norfolk Admirals both have has seasons in which the consistency levels have been a little skewed. On Wednesday night, the two clubs met for the second and final time this season inside Wesbanco Arena. Wheeling was coming off a 4-1 win over Cincinnati, while the Admirals losing streak reached five games following two losses to South Carolina last weekend.
Michael McNiven was making his second straight start after playing one of his best games of the season last Saturday against South Carolina. For Wheeling, Alex D’Orio was making his second straight start as well, looking to crack double digits in wins.
South Carolina scored the game’s first goal in both games last weekend over Norfolk, which proved to be costly both nights. On Wednesday night, it was the Admirals who drew first blood, courtesy of Alex Tonge. His perfectly-placed wrist shot from the circles beat D’Orio high blocker and seemed to have ignited tons of pop and sizzle on the Norfolk bench.
The remainder of the period went scoreless, with McNiven stopping all shots that came his way (9). Wheeling’s Brady Fleurent was awarded a penalty shot at the 12:55 mark of the period, but missed the net on the Nailers’ first penalty shot of the season.
The second period has been a problem for the Admirals this season and that trend continued on Wednesday night.
Wheeling came out quickly and converted to tie the game up at one just 33 seconds into the period. Cam Brown would pick up his 11th of the season, with Alec Butcher and Will Smith picking up the assists. For 12 more minutes, Wheeling would pepper McNiven with shots from all angles. Another break for the Nailers came at the 12:32 mark when Michael Kim’s shot changed direction at the last minute, courtesy of Fleurent, to make it 2-1 Wheeling.
Norfolk was outshot in the second period, 14-9. With Wheeling’s two goals, the Admirals have now been outscored in the second period this season, 63-32.
In the third, both clubs got their fair-share of chances, but nothing got past McNiven and nothing ultimately got past D’Orio, resulting in a 2-1 win for the Nailers.
D’Orio finished the night with 27 saves in his 10th win of the season, while McNiven had 26 saves, with the shots evened up at 28-28.
The Admirals are back in action on Friday night as they take on the South Carolina Stingrays. Action from North Charleston Coliseum kicks off at 6:40 with the Pregame Show, with puck drop set for 7:05pm.