Nailers fall to Cincinnati

WHEELING – The Wheeling Nailers received a 42-save effort from Peter Delmas in a victory Saturday night, and another 21 stops from Scott Darling on Sunday at WesBanco Arena. The difference, is Darling didn’t get much help.

Michael Pelech, Dan Eves and Mark Smyth all registered a goal and an assist as the Cincinnati Cyclones (26-14-5 – 57) inched closer to the top of the Eastern Conference standings with a 4-2 victory against the Nailers (20-15-8 – 48), who lost at home for just the second time in 14 games.

“He’s been making the big saves. He and Delly both,” Wheeling coach Clark Donatelli said of Darling. “The goaltenders are playing hard and they’re doing their job.

“Some of our other guys have to start picking it up.”

The Cyclones are a team that preys on turnovers, so they left town on full stomachs. The Nailers turned the puck over several times, but three of four Cincinnati goals were direct results of giveways.

“It’s more mental breakdowns than anything,” Donatelli said. “That third goal was the killer.

“We knew better.”

Perhaps playing on tired legs, the Nailers got their first real burst of energy at the 10:46 mark of the third period when Chris Barton gathered in a rebound and beat Cincinnati goaltender Zoltan Hetenyi for his 11th of the season to make it a 2-1 game.

But 22 seconds later a turnover led to a wide-open net for Smyth, who notched his first to regain a two-goal lead.

“We had a couple turnovers that caused their (first) two goals. We score to make it 2-1 and the guy gets a tap in,” Donatelli said. “It’s just too easy.

“They make you pay. A mental breakdown and the puck is in the back of your net.”

Aubin notched his 11th on the power play – the Cyclones’ only man-advantage conversion in eight chances – at 17:11 of the third, before Zack Torquato scored his second on a wrister from the slot at 17:41, also on the power play, for the Nailers. Pelech scored his ninth at 3:17 of the first for the Cyclones, while Eves made it 2-0 with his sixth of the season at the 12:49 mark of the second.

Both Wheeling and Cincinnati were playing their third games in as many days, the difference being the Nailers had to bus from Trenton after Saturday night’s victory. It showed in the way of tired legs and poor decision making.

”We’re on a sleeper bus and everyone’s getting sleep. That’s no excuse,” Donatelli said. “They’ve got to get mentally tougher. (Cincinnati) is playing 3-in-3, too. Everybody plays 3-in-3. It’s not an excuse at all.

“If you want to get to the next level you’ve got to be mentally tough.”