Nailers Force Game 7 With OT Win

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Posted May 23, 2016

The Wheeling Nailers weathered a fast start by the South Carolina Stingrays to win, 4-3, and force a decisive Game 7 tomorrow night from the North Charleston Coliseum. In his first game of the series, Anton Zlobin scored twice for Wheeling and Jarrett Burton played overtime hero for the second time in the series. Kelly Zajac tallied a goal and an assist while Caleb Herbert tipped in his tenth goal of the playoffs.

This is the second year in a row that the Stingrays need a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals. Last year, however, the Toledo Walleye won three games in a row to force the winner-take-all game in Toledo. In the triple overtime classic, Joe Devin scored the only goal to send South Carolina to the Kelly Cup Finals.

After winning the opening faceoff, the Stingrays turned in a strong opening shift around the crease of Brian Foster. 43 seconds after the game began, Kelly Zajac hammered a rebound home to grant the Rays a 1-0 lead.

Within minutes, Stephan Vigier turned up ice with speed. His first attempt on net went wide of Foster, but Devin and Zajac kept the puck alive for Vigier’s second attempt, which he would not miss.

South Carolina ran into penalty trouble and Anton Zlobin, in his first game since Game 5 against Reading, scored on a point shot while the referees waited to call another penalty on Joe Devin. The Stingrays killed off the Devin minor, and resumed play. There were no stoppages in the final 6:27 in a fast-moving first period, ending with the Stingrays up by one.

The Stingrays could not convert on a double-minor to Derek Army, and soon after surrendered the tying goal to Josh McCarron. Cody Wdo caused a defensive zone turnover, where the puck went behind everyone for McCarron to come in one-on-one against Vanecek. A few quick moves later, and McCarron put his seventh of the playoffs over the blocker of Vanecek.

On another power play chance, Zlobin further justified his insertion into the lineup with his second goal. Army’s elevated pass made it over the sliding body of Joey Leach to find Zlobin cocked-and-ready to fire home the leading tally.

On a quickly-developed rush play, David Pacan received a drop pass from Austin Fyten. Pacan teed off on the puck, but it kunckled on net after hitting Caleb Herbert, who was screening Foster in front. Though the puck hit Foster’s equipment, it rolled through with enough strength to make it over the goal line. A last minute power play chance did not result in any chances for South Carolina; for the second time in the series, overtime was needed to decide a winner.

The Stingrays appeared to have a goal late in the fourth period when David Pacan stuffed the puck underneath the leg pad of Foster and began to celebrate. No official indication came until after a conference of all the referees confirmed no goal had been scored.

Minutes later, Burton ended Game 6 with a fast wrist shot over the glove hand of Vanecek. The 2nd-round draft pick of the Washington Capitals made 30 saves on 34 shots from Wheeling, including turning away all 10 in the opening 20 minutes. Foster faced the same number of shots and made 31 saves.

Both teams are 1-0 in Game 7’s during these playoffs. Wheeling beat Reading in overtime while South Carolina defeated Adirondack in double overtime in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.