ELMIRA, N.Y. - Powered by captain Jean Bourbeau's first professional hat trick, three assists by Jakub Culek, and 21 saves by Neil Conway the Elmira Jackals claimed a 5-2 win over the Wheeling Nailers on Friday night at First Arena. The win improved Elmira to 20-23-6 on the season.
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Bourbeau had missed 11 of Elmira's previous 12 games with an upper-body injury, but on Friday it looked like he hadn't missed a beat. He made a drive to the net from the left wing to collect his first goal at 6:55 of the first and gave Elmira a 1-0 lead. Troy Rutkowski carried down the right wing and fired an airborne pass to the crease that deflected off of Bourbeau's leg and in for his fifth goal of the year. Culek grabbed the secondary assist for his first of the night. Elmira's lead lasted just under 10 minutes until Shane Bakker slipped a backhander through Conway's pads and left the game tied at one heading into the second.
The Jackals put forth a dogged effort in the second to get ample pucks to the Wheeling net and managed 18 shots. Wheeling goalie Peter Mannino was stout and stopped 17 of them, but the one that got by put Elmira in front by one for the final 20 minutes. Danny Hobbs sent a quick shot to the net from the top of the left wing circle after a clean faceoff win by Culek. While Mannino stopped the first shot, he left the rebound on the doorstep and Bourbeau fired it home at 9:18 for a lead the Jackals wouldn't relinquish. Conway stopped each of the eight shots he faced in the second to ensure Bourbeau's goal stood up.
Elmira wasted little time in the third period in taking its first two-goal lead of the night. Just 1:43 in Daniel Koger drove to the front of the net and jammed a backhander past Mannino for his ninth of the year, fifth as a Jackal, and what turned out to be the game winner. Culek capped off his three-assist night with the primary helper while Hobbs netted his second assist of the game. Bourbeau brought the crowd to its feet, and hats onto the ice, at 11:06 of the third when he rifled a wrist shot past Mannino high to the glove side. Chaz Johnson pulled Wheeling within two with 1:27 to play but Rob Bellamy hit the empty net with 19 seconds remaining to wipe out the potential of any late drama.
Conway improved to 6-0-1 on the season with a 21-save effort. Elmira ended the night 2-for-2 on the penalty kill and 0-for-3 on the power play.
Mark your calendars! The Jackals are back on home ice this Saturday, February 22 to battle the Wheeling Nailers. The Jackals host their annual Donor Awareness Night which features the team wearing special Donate Life jerseys that will be auctioned off live after the game, and a Donate Life puck giveaway. 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 booke