On Friday night at Huntington Centre, in the opening game of their Central Division Final Series between the Wheeling Nailers and Toledo Walleye, goals were extremely difficult to come by.

In the second period, Wheeling took a 1-0 lead thanks to a goal from Jordan Martel. Mitchell Lewandowski forced overtime for the Walleyes. During the overtime period, Brandon Hawkins’ high wrist shot from the right circle gave Toledo the 2-1 victory at home.

The first session gave the teams a chance to reacquaint themselves with one another as there had only been one head-to-head meeting since the beginning of December. Despite only 14 total shots on goal, neither team was able to score.

At 12:23 in the middle frame, Wheeling made his breakthrough following a Walleye turnover. A Toledo player tried to swivel the puck back to the blueline, but the pass was incomplete, allowing the Nailers to go on a 2-on-1 rush. Martel scored a wrist shot from the right side of the slot after Justin Addamo carried the puck in on the left side and passed it to him.

Up until 5:10 of the third period, the score remained 1-0 before the Walleye capitalised on a bounce. Lewandowski whirled and punched the puck out of the air to get the equaliser after Matt Anderson chipped the puck to the low slot.

During overtime, the teams traded opportunities until Toledo took the last one at 10:51.

After making his way to the bottom of the right circle, Brandon Hawkins hit a wrist shot that went into the top-right corner of the cage, giving the Walleyes a 2-1 victory. On his 13th shot of the game, Hawkins scored his second overtime goal of the playoffs.

Toledo’s John Lethemon won the game with 25 saves on 26 shots. Wheeling’s goalie, Jaxon Castor, put out an excellent effort, save 33 of the 35 shots he faced during the OT loss.

Game two of the Central Division Final Series between the Nailers and Walleye will take place in Toledo on Saturday at 7:15 p.m.

Games three, four, and five of the series, if needed, will subsequently be played at WesBanco Arena on May 8, 10, and 11. All home games will begin at 7:10.


Topics #Hawkins wins #Huntington Centre #Nailers #Victory