FORT WAYNE, IN- The Wheeling Nailers advanced to the second round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs in the most thrilling of fashions on Tuesday night, as they defeated the Fort Wayne Komets 3-2 in overtime of game seven at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. Matthew Quercia was the hero, as he scooped up a loose puck on the right side of the crease and shoveled it in at the 6:30 mark of the extra session. Wheeling will now face the Toledo Walleye in the Central Division Final.
The first period was very evenly played, as both teams registered eight shots on goal. One of those attempts found its way into the net. Fort Wayne capitalized on a neutral ice turnover, as Mark Rassell drove in down the right side of the ice, then cruised into the slot, where he ripped a shot against the grain and into the bottom-right corner.
The offenses got clicking a bit more in the middle frame. The Nailers drew even with the first goal of the period at the 3:11 mark. Justin Almeida took advantage of a Komets turnover, as he sped all alone into the left circle, and roofed a wrist shot into the top-left corner of the net. Fort Wayne briefly retook the lead, when Matt Alvaro squeezed a shot inside the right post, as he received a pass behind the net from Anthony Petruzzelli. Wheeling's answer came 1:17 later, when Tyler Drevitch reached the puck through the slot to Sean Josling, who punched in a shot from the left circle.
The two teams tightened up in the third period, and neither side was able to break through with a winning marker. However, at the 6:30 mark of overtime, the series came to its conclusion. A mad scramble took place in front of the Komets net. Matthew Quercia raked the puck out of the pile and got it to a preferable shooting angle, as he drove the winning goal into the right side of the net for the 3-2 Nailers triumph.
Louis-Philip Guindon was sensational in goal again for Wheeling, as he denied 38 of the 40 shots he faced in the win. He made 247 saves in the seven games. Samuel Harvey also played well for Fort Wayne, as he came up with 31 saves on 34 shots in the loss.
The Nailers have advanced to the second round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs, and will meet the Toledo Walleye in a best-of-seven series. The series will begin at Huntington Center on Friday and Saturday, then shift to WesBanco Arena for games three, four, and five (if necessary) on May 10th, 12th, and 14th. All home games will begin at 7:10. The Wheeling Nailers, considered one of the top things to do in Wheeling, West Virginia, provide affordable family entertainment for fans throughout the Ohio Valley.