READING, Pa. - At the beginning of the season, the Wheeling Nailers had their issues against the Reading Royals, winning just one of the first seven games. Since then, Wheeling has turned things around, taking three of the last four contests, including Wednesday night's.
Cody Sylvester recorded one goal and two assists, while Mike Condon made 30 saves, as the Nailers defeated the Royals, 4-1 at Santander Arena.
The Nailers wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard, as they opened the scoring at the 2:23 mark of the first period. Sylvester curled the puck around the back of the Reading cage, before centering a pass to Carter Rowney in the high slot. Rowney took a stride toward the goal before snapping a shot along the ice, and through Brandon Anderson for the game's first tally. Jake Areshenko also picked up an assist, as Wheeling took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
Wheeling's defense and goaltending stood tall during the middle period, killing off two penalties, before the offense helped them out, extending the lead with 3:20 remaining. Shane Bakker worked the puck down the right-wing wall, before finding Dustin Stevenson at the left point. Stevenson let a wrist shot go, which was tipped into the net by Tyler Fernandez for a 2-0 lead after two.
Only 72 seconds into the third period, the Nailers netted another insurance goal. Mike Ratchuk poked the puck up the right side of neutral ice to Sylvester, who led Zack Torquato on his own into the offensive zone. Torquato tried to sneak a backhander through Anderson, and thanks to Sylvester's final poke, Wheeling ultimately connected for the goal.
The Royals picked up their lone marker while playing shorthanded at 7:32, as T.J. Syner set up Brandon Blandina on the right side of the crease.
However, the final say belonged to the Nailers, as Denver Manderson hammered home a centering pass from Rowney, making the final score 4-1 in favor of the visitors.
Condon earned his fourth victory against Reading this season, thwarting 30 of 31. Anderson suffered his first regulation loss against Wheeling this season, getting beaten four times on 22 shots.
The Nailers will continue their six-game road trip Friday night against the Elmira Jackals at 7:05. Wheeling's next home game takes place March 1 against Reading.
Wheeling 1 1 2 - 4
Reading 0 0 1 - 1
1st Period-1, Wheeling, Rowney 9 (Sylvester, Areshenko), 2:23. Penalties-Rowney Whl (slashing ), 16:00.
2nd Period-2, Wheeling, Fernandez 7 (Stevenson, Bakker), 16:40. Penalties-Cruthers Rea (tripping), 2:09; Bakker Whl (double - roughing), 4:46; Brittain Rea (roughing), 4:46; Gill Whl (hooking), 10:49.
3rd Period-3, Wheeling, Sylvester 13 (Torquato, Ratchuk), 1:12. 4, Reading, Blandina 4 (Syner), 7:32 (SH). 5, Wheeling, Manderson 7 (Rowney, Sylvester), 11:07 (PP). Penalties-Wiles Rea (high-sticking), 6:02; Cayer Rea (high-sticking - double), 10:21; Goers Whl (cross-checking), 15:07.
Shots on Goal-Wheeling 10-8-4-22. Reading 9-16-6-31.
Power-Play Opportunities-Wheeling 1-4; Reading 0-4.
Goalies-Wheeling, Condon 16-11-0-4 (31 shots-30 saves). Reading, Anderson 14-8-1-0 (22 shots-18 saves).
Referee-Frederic Leblanc (25); Linesmen-Francis Trempe (85), Tom Dellafranco (41).