Wheeling, WV – The Adirondack Thunder saw their five-game point streak come to a close as they fell 6-3 to the Wheeling Nailers on Wednesday evening at WesBanco Arena.
Forward Shane Conacher extended his scoring streak to six games with a pair of assists in the loss while defenseman Mathieu Brodeur also added two helpers. Goaltender Drew Fielding lost for the first time in six starts as he made 22 saves in defeat.
Wheeling scored twice in the game's first five minutes to take an early advantage. First, 1:09 into the first period, forward Riley Bourbonnais created a turnover at his defensive blueline, skated in alone on Fielding and went top glove with his shot for the game's first goal. Just under three minutes later, the Nailers struck again as forward Garrett Meurs skated into the offensive zone, weaved from left to right and fired across Fielding's body and in for the 2-0 lead. Defenseman Zach Tolkinen and goaltender Adam Morrison collected the assists on Meurs' 14th goal of the season.
Adirondack cut its deficit in half with less than two minutes to play in the first period as Tim Harrison converted on the man advantage to get the visitors on the board. Harrison took a feed from Andrew Radjenovic on the right wing, skated in on Morrison and fired his shot into the back of the net on the short side for his fifth tally of the season. Radjenovic and forward Paul Rodrigues collected the assists on the play, Radjenovic’s seventh of the season.
The Nailers struck again less than four minutes into the second period as Ross McMullan scored his second goal of the season to put Wheeling ahead 3-1. After Adirondack was unable to clear its defensive end, blueliner Dan Milan fired a shot from the left point that McMullan redirected past Fielding for the goal. Milan and forward Michael Turner collected the assists on the play, Milan’s seventh helper of the season.
Wheeling opened the third period’s scoring 5:52 into the final stanza as forward Reid Gardiner picked up his 15th goal of the season. Stationed at the bottom of the left-hand circle, Gardiner sent a pass towards the slot, which hit an Adirondack skate and deflected back to his stick and he slotted a wrist shot past Fielding to put Wheeling on top 4-1. Defenseman Kevin Schulze and forward Chris Francis collected the assists on the play, the seventh helper of the season for Francis.
Less than a minute later, the Thunder pulled back to within two goals as Ward scored for the second straight game. After he forward a turnover deep inside the Wheeling defensive zone, the St. Lawrence product skated behind the net and fired a pass towards the crease, where it deflected off a Wheeling stick and past Morrison for Ward’s ninth goal of the season. Forward Shane Conacher and Brodeur collected the assists on the play as Conacher extended his point streak to six games.
With Adirondack on the power play, the Nailers went the other way to regain their three-goal advantage just past the halfway mark of the third period. On a two-on-one rush, forward Troy Josephs fed teammate Cam Brown, who went to his backhand to beat Fielding for his ninth tally of the season. Josephs picked up the lone assist on the play, his eighth helper of the season.
The Thunder moved a goal closer for the second time as forward Ty Loney scored to cut the deficit to 5-3 just after the Adirondack power play had expired. Brodeur one-timed a pass from Conacher on net, which was denied by Morrison, but Loney was positioned in front for the rebound goal. Brodeur and Conacher picked up the assists on the play, the second point of the evening for both players.
With less than three minutes to play in regulation, Wheeling scored the game’s final goal to push its lead back to three. Stationed on the half wall, Nailers captain Nick Sorkin fed Gardiner in the high slot, where he one-timed a shot past Fielding for his second tally of the evening. Sorkin and Brown picked up the assists on Gardiner’s 16th goal of the 2017-18 season.
The Thunder are back in action for three games this weekend, beginning with a home-and-home set against Reading on Friday and Saturday. Adirondack is home at Cool Insuring Arena on Saturday evening as it squares off with the Royals on Pink in the Rink night at 7:00 p.m. Visit ECHLThunder.com or call 518-480-3355 x1 for tickets to tomorrow evening’s game or any upcoming Thunder home game.
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