WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers celebrated like the 1990's on Friday night, as they climbed to nine games over .500 for the first time this season. Troy Josephs led the way offensively for the Nailers, as he netted his first career hat trick. Chris Francis joined him with two goals and an assist, as Wheeling pumped the Indy Fuel, 7-3 at WesBanco Arena. Cam Brown and Reid Gardiner both extended their point streaks to nine games, while Adam Morrison improved to 8-0-1 in his last nine starts.
The Nailers looked good both in uniform and on the scoreboard in the first period, as they jumped out to a 3-1 lead. The first two tallies came on the man advantage, and were sandwiched around the lone Indy goal. First on the board was Chris Francis, who squeezed shot from the bottom of the left circle, set up by Cody Wydo. Johnny McInnis netted the tying goal for the Fuel, before Kevin Schulze stepped into a rocket from the blueline, burying his attempt in the top-right corner of the cage. 1:07 later, Danny Fick dangled into the slot, putting a shot on goal. Adam Carlson made the save, but Troy Josephs pounced on the rebound, depositing the marker.
Indy pulled within one at the 12-minute mark of the middle frame, when Darian Dziurzynski backhanded in the rebound of Riley Sweeney's shot from the point. Wheeling quickly brushed that off, answering 38 seconds later. Jeff Taylor's shot from the blueline got blocked down to Josephs, who swept in his second of the night on his backhand. With 1:13 remaining until intermission, Francis potted his second of the evening, finishing off a rush by Garrett Meurs, which started just inside of the defensive blueline.
The Nailers tacked on two more goals in the third period, icing their triumph. Freddie Tiffels poked in a loose puck at the top of the crease for the team's sixth tally of the night. Then, with less than one minute to go, Kevin Schulze sent Josephs on a breakaway, which he converted, ripping a shot through Greg Dodds' legs, completing his hat trick in the 7-3 final. Dziurzynski's second of the game was the lone third period strike for the Fuel.
Adam Morrison earned his tenth win of the season in goal for Wheeling, making 26 saves on 29 shots. Adam Carlson was the losing netminder for Indy, as he gave up five goals on 25 shots, before being pulled from the crease. Greg Dodds was 13-of-15 in relief, playing the third period.
The Nailers will play at 8:05 on Saturday, when they host the Fort Wayne Komets for Beach Party Night. The first 2,500 fans in attendance will receive a pair of Nailers sunglasses, and one lucky fan will win a trip to Myrtle Beach. The seven-game homestand will conclude with a Two-for-Tuesday (2 tickets for $22) when Wheeling hosts the Toledo Walleye at 7:05. The next big promotional game is Pittsburgh Penguins Night on March 10th against the Reading Royals. To purchase tickets, or to get more information about season tickets, flex plans, group tickets, and more, call (304) 234-GOAL.