Nailers in 0-2 hole
WHEELING – As far as losses go, they don’t come much tougher.
A dominant third-period team all season, the Wheeling Nailers surrendered a 3-1 lead Sunday at WesBanco Arena, then watched as Josh Nicholls put home a rebound 9:19 into overtime for his for his professional playoff goal as Greenville took a 2-0 lead in the Best-of-7 Eastern Conference semifinal series with a 4-3 victory. The series shifts south for the next three games, beginning Tuesday night at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
”They’re not down … they’re anxious and wish they could play right now,” Wheeling coach Clark Donatelli said of his players. ”We’ve been winning on the road all year, so it’s fine.
”Obviously we didn’t want to go down there down two, but that’s the situation and we’ll deal with it.”
As if things couldn’t get any worse, Wheeling’s best player, Denver Manderson, may have been lost for the series as a result of what appeared to be an elbow to the head from Road Warriors forward Kyle Jean.
”Obviously he is our No. 1 center on the team and he is banged up pretty good right now,” Donatelli said. ”That’s up to the officials and I am sure they will do the right thing and take a look at it.”
The Road Warriors weathered an early Wheeling storm, as the home team came out with far more energy than it had a night earlier, and cleaned up mistakes in the defensive zone.
Still, it appeared as though a Wheeling victory was imminent, when Christiaan Minella had the puck on his stick 1:38 into overtime, but Greenville goaltender Jason Missiaen used all 6-foot-8 of his frame to come up with a clutch save.