ELMIRA, N.Y. - The Elmira Jackals came up just shy in a defensive battle with the Wheeling Nailers on Saturday night at First Arena. Wheeling inched ahead with a power play goal in the third and held on for a 3-1 win. Elmira's record slipped to 20-24-6 with the loss.
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Elmira had struck for the first goal in each of its last four home games which led to a 3-1-0 mark in those contests. Wheeling turned the tables this time, however, thanks to an odd-man rush. Carter Rowney fed a quick lead pass to Cody Sylvester which created a 2-on-1 against Elmira goalie Neil Conway. Sylvester let a slap shot go from the left wing circle that slipped through Conway's pads at the 12:11 mark of the first. The Nailers pestered Conway to the tune of 10 shots in the frame while Elmira managed six against Wheeling starter Mike Condon.
In the second period, after killing off a bench minor for too many men on the ice, the Jackals forced the Nailers into two-man disadvantage thanks to some heavy pressure. Mike Ratchuk went off for tripping at 11:41 and Dustin Stevenson followed at 12:07 for interference. Elmira had 1:34 of a 5-on-3 but was unable to beat Condon with either of its two shots on the advantage. At the other end of the ice Conway kept the Jackals within striking distance thanks to nine saves in the frame.
While the Jackals couldn't cash in on the power play in the second to tie the game, their persistence paid of with a man-advantage goal early in the third. Kyle Bushee took a shot from the center point with a mass of bodies in front of Condon. Danny Hobbs initially deflected the shot then Jordan Pietrus followed up to jam it across the goal line and put the Jackals on the board at 3:09. Elmira had killed off each of Wheeling's first four power plays but couldn't survive the fifth challenge. Zach Torquato launched a low wrist shot from the center point that was tipped by Chaz Johnson past Conway at 9:02. That stood as the game winner and Denver Manderson added an empty-net goal in the final minute to set the final.
Conway shouldered his first regulation loss in a Jackals uniform while making 31 saves. The Jackals went 1-for-4 on the power play and 4-for-5 on the penalty kill.
Mark your calendars! The Jackals are back on home ice this Sunday, February 23 to battle the Wheeling Nailers. The Jackals host their traditional Sunday Postgame Skate With the Jackals tomorrow. The skate is free to anyone who has a ticket, and skates will be available to rent if you don't have your own. Don't forget that groups of 10 or more who book in advance receive discounts off the box office price and preferred seating based on availability. Call 607-734-7825 to get your group outing booked.