WHEELING, W.Va. - The surging Wheeling Nailers vaulted into the North Division lead last night with a 6-4 victory over the Toledo Storm at WesBanco Arena.
''Even though it's early in the season, there's a little extra motivation when you're playing for first place,'' said the Nailers' Cam Paddock, whose two first-period goals helped the Nailers bounce back from an early 1-0 deficit.
With the win - Wheeling's fourth straight - the Nailers are all alone atop the North Division with a 4-1-0 record.
The Storm dropped out of the division lead with the loss and now stands at 3-2-1 on the season.
First-year head coach Glenn Patrick was impressed by the effort he saw from both teams in the early-season showdown.
''That was a hard-fought win,'' Patrick said, ''but you expect that when you're in a battle for first place.''
Toledo - which failed to score on its first six power plays - trailed 5-2 entering the third period but took advantage of two Nailer penalties to make things interesting down the stretch.
With Mike Doyle in the box for interference, Chris Blight tipped a B.J. Adams shot over the blocker of Wheeling goalie Andy Chiodo to cut the lead to 5-3 at
3:45 of the period.
Bo Cheesman was whistled off for tripping at 5:34 and Ken Mag-
owan trimmed the deficit to 5-4 with another redirect at 6:28.
With the Storm keeping the heat on Wheeling's end in search of the equalizer, the Nailers dodged a bullet just past the midway point of the period when Mike James corraled a rebound on the doorstep with Chiodo down on the ice only to flip the puck over the open net.
Wheeling seemed to catch its second wind after that and Storm head coach Nick Vitucci rolled the dice by pulling goaltender David Cann with 1:45 still showing on the clock.
Toledo couldn't hold the puck in the Nailers' end and Brendon Hodge carried into Storm ice.
Under heavy pressure from a pair of Toledo players, Hodge was unable to get a back-hander on net but won the battle for the loose puck behind the net and whistled a pass out to Cliff Loya, who lit the lamp from the blue line at 18:49 to ice the verdict.
Adam Keefe and Magowan scored Toledo's first two goals.
The win gave the Nailers a
51-50-9 edge in the all-time series with Toledo.
This was the first of 13
|regular-season meetings between Toledo and Wheeling.