WHEELING, W.Va. - The Elmira Jackals and Wheeling Nailers needed extra hockey for the third meeting in a row on Saturday night at WesBanco Arena. The Nailers won a marathon shootout three goals to two and claimed a 2-1 win in the first of four straight games between the teams. Elmira's record now stands at 19-23-6 on the season.
Click here for tonight's box score.
Elmira jumped out to 2-0 leads in its first two games this week but was not as fortunate on Saturday in Wheeling. The Nailers' Mike Ratchuk notched a power play goal at 14:40 with a snap shot from the point that eluded Neil Conway. The marker was Ratchuk's 10th of the year and assists were given to Denver Manderson and Zack Torquato. Seconds before that goal Elmira nearly capitalized on a partial shorthanded breakaway. Artem Demkov got a good look from the slot but his wrist shot was blockered away by Wheeling's Peter Mannino and kept Elmira off the board. The Nailers outshot the Jackals 16-9 in the first and lead 1-0 heading into the middle frame.
Elmira and Wheeling played to a scoreless draw in the second period, but the Jackals were effective in putting the Nailers into penalty trouble. After killing off 70 seconds of a hooking minor to Maxim Lamarche, the Jackals earned the next three power play opportunities. They used the man-advantage time to send four shots Peter Mannino's way but the veteran netminder thwarted each one and kept his team ahead by one heading into the third. Conway wasn't as busy in the second as he was in the first but still turned in seven saves to keep the Jackals within striking distance.
Facing a one-goal deficit in the third period the Jackals hitched up their collective pants and put together their most productive offensive period of the game. They launched 11 shots Mannino's way and were able to cash in early. After a steal from the point Artem Demkov raced up ice on a 2-on-1 alongside Mike Vaskivuo and blistered a wrist shot under the cross bar for his 13th goal of the season. The Jackals played tidy defense in the third, as well, and limited the Nailers to just seven shots. Conway stopped each of them to send the game to overtime.
In the extra session the Nailers managed a pair of shots while the Jackals had one, but it took a shootout to decide the winner. Mike Vaskivuo scored on Elmira's first shot and Conway stopped Wheeling's first two shooters before Ratchuk tied it in the top of the third. After three stops each Sahir Gill and Jordan Pietrus traded goals in the seventh. The eight frame decided the game with Barry Goers scoring and Mannino stopping Dane Walters.
Conway was 32-for-33 on save opportunities through regulation and overtime and 5-for-8 in the shootout. Elmira ended the night 0-for-5 on the power play and 1-for-2 on the penalty kill.
Mark your calendars! The Jackals return to home ice on Friday, February 21 to take on the Wheeling Nailers. Join the Jackals for a Swan and Sons rally towel 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 booked.