WHEELING, W.Va. - The Elmira Jackals arrived in Wheeling on Sunday looking to darken the Nailers' hopes of making the playoffs. After a solid start the Jackals faltered and fell at WesBanco arena by a 5-1 score and saw their record fall to 22-36-8.
Click here for tonight's box score.
Despite playing the night before and not arriving in Wheeling until 9 o'clock this morning the Elmira Jackals came out with jump in their legs in the first period and capitalized on their early pressure. Elmira earned the first power play of the game and produced two high-quality scoring chances. Wheeling goalie Eric Hartzell robbed Artem Demkov and Mike Vaskivuo from point-blank range, though, and kept the game scoreless through the early stages. The Jackals' second power play, however, proved fruitful when their top power play scorer beat Hartzell with a wrist shot. Vaskivuo sent a cross-ice feed to Demkov in the left-wing circle and he ripped home his sixth power play goal, 16th overall, to give Elmira a 1-0 lead at 9:56. Rookie goalie Tony Capobianco stopped nine shots in the period, including a point-blank pad save on Chaz Johnson, to make Demkov's goal stand up.
While the first period went nearly exactly the way the Jackals planned it the second was a different story. The Nailers potted a pair of goals within the first 1:02 of play and took control of the game for the first time. Tom Kuhnackl's fifth of the season was nearly stopped by Capobianco but the puck fluttered off of his blocker and under the cross bar at the 28-second mark. Tyler Fernandez finished off a 2-on-1 with Shane Bakker 34 seconds later to lift the Nailers to their first lead. Wheeling's early surge generated the first seven shots on goal of the period and Elmira didn't get one through to Hartzell until just past the six-minute mark of the frame. Mike Ratchuk closed out the scoring in the second with a goal off the rush at 15:09.
A comeback never materialized for the Jackals in the third period. The Nailers played a smothering style of defense and limited the Jackals to four shots in the frame. On the offensive side the Nailers pumped in a pair of goals from Christiaan Minell and Chaz Johnson to provide insurance on the two-goal lead they took into the period.
Capobianco stopped 31 shots in his first start at the pro level. The Jackals ended the night 1-for-5 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.
Mark your calendars! The Jackals return to home ice on Wednesday, April 2 to take on the Kalamazoo Wings. Join us for a Jackals trading card set giveaway and the final Willowcreek Wednesday of the season. 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.