The Wheeling Nailers were on the road Thursday, out of conference taking on the Indy Fuel tonight in Indiana. The Nailers came into this game second in the North Division and just two back of the division leading Toledo Walleye and set to take on the division leaders in a home and home this Friday and Saturday.
Wheeling wins 2-1 and are now tied with the Walleye for the North Division lead. Brian Foster made 30 saves and Derek Army scored in the third period.
The Nailers lost Matia Marcantuoni to recall by Wilkes-Barre / Scranton this afternoon. The thought is that Marcantuoni will be rehab back from an injury here in Wilkes-Barre.
Brian Foster opposed Shane Owen.
Matt Tabrum, making his Wheeling debut coming off of injury, scored on his first shift on his fist shot and beat Owen at 1:04 in the first to put the Nailers ahead 1-0. It was Tabrum’s first professional goal.
Derek Army hit two posts on one shot as the Nailers caught Indy scrambling around badly in front of Owen’s net.
The Nailers took three consecutive penalties and Indy finally scored on the third, a shot from the point that Foster made the initial save on was inadvertently knocked into the net by the Nailers net minder that brought the Fuel level at one.
Rhett Bly got credit.
The Nailers lost defenseman Evan Wardley to injury when Bly smashed him into the boards early on in the second period. He was helped off of the ice putting no weight on his right leg. He injured his right knee in the Rookie Tournament in September.
Nice back and forth in the second period with both teams getting looks on a power play but neither team capitalizing. Foster made a nice save on a Fuel two on one in transition.
The defensive battle continued into the third period until Cody Wydo stole the puck off of Fuel defenseman Sam Jardine on an aggressive forecheck and passed to Derek Army who wasted no time in putting the puck past Owen to give the Nailers a 2-1 lead.
Army nearly got another goal when Owen was caught woefully out of position which forced Jardine into a save…
Nailers really locked down the Fuel, even with Owen pulled and Indy skating with an extra man. It was a quality win for a team skating with just five defenseman with the loss of Wardley to injury.
Three stars were Indy’s Rhett Bly with a goal, Wheeling’s Brian Foster with 30 saves on 31 shots and Derek Army with the game winning goal.
Here’s the infographic put out by the Nailers:
Video highlights, too:
No one else in the Nailers division played tonight, so the standings in the North Division look like this:
Toledo – 26 points
WHEELING – 26 points
Kalamazoo – 18 points
Brampton – 17 points
Wheeling takes on the Toledo Walleye for the first half of a Friday-Saturday home and home tomorrow in Toledo.
Back home on Coal Street, the Penguins take on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms tomorrow in Allentown at 7:05. I will not be able to tweet the game as I will be out at a Christmas party for my big boy job but Seth and Tom should be there along with the Pens media team, so I plan on dropping in from time to time with tweets and retweets and still plan on having a post game recap on the blog here when I get home from dinner.
Gameday setup hits the blog Friday at 3.