WHEELING, WV – Tonight the Greenville Road Warriors look to even their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Wheeling Nailers. Wheeling is up two games to one after a 3-2 Game Three win on Wednesday night. Game time is set for 7:35 p.m.
RECAPPING THE ACTION:
GAME ONE: GRW 3 – WHL 4
Greenville came out of the gates firing in Game One and grabbed a 1-0 lead just over a minute into the game. Shane Harper banged home his first pro playoff goal off of a set up by Brendan Connolly on a 2-on-1 rush. Wheeling, though, swung momentum in its favor with three straight goals to take a 3-1 lead. Tyler Murovich tied the score at 8:33 of the first and was followed by Joey Haddad’s shorthanded breakaway that beat Chris Beckford-Tseu at 10:45. Marc-Olivier Vallerand chipped a backhander behind Peter Delmas 4:46 into the third period and pulled Greenville back within one. But the deficit grew to two, again, with Murovich’s second of the night 4:56 later. Brendan Connolly netted Greenville’s third of the night 2:22 after Murovich’s score, but Delmas shut the door from there. Beckford-Tseu sustained his first loss of the playoffs with 17 saves on the night. Delmas turned away 33 bids in the win.
GAME TWO: GRW 2 – WHL 1 (OT)
Nic Riopel made his first start since taking the decision in the 6-3 loss to Elmira on April, 6 and out-dueled Peter Delmas in a dramatic, low-scoring affair. For the second straight game Shane Harper gave the Road Warriors a 1-0 lead with a first period goal. The goal at 17:33 came with assists from Brendan Connolly and Andrew Rowe. Riopel had 13 saves through two periods, including two during a Wheeling 5-on-3 power play in the second, and Greenville’s lead remained 1-0 heading into the third. The advantage evaporated 42 seconds into the period when Tim Crowder finished off a 2-on-0 break with his brother Paul. It was his first goal of the playoffs. With neither team able to score again in regulation, the scene shifted to overtime. Greenville had a handful of great scoring chances among its eight shots, but Delmas was a tough nut to crack. Finally, at 11:21, Jimmy Kilpatrick spiked home a rebound for the win and evened the series at one game each.
GAME THREE: GRW 2 – WHL 3
In their first road playoff game since April 6, the Road Warriors could not match Wheeling early and fell behind 2-0 within the opening 10 minutes of the first period. Joey Haddad converted a 3-on-2 rush off of a pass from Jason DeSantis 1:06 into the game and then Alex Grant scored an unassisted marker at 9:52. Wheeling kept the advantage despite Greenville holding a 15-9 shot advantage in the period. Greenville’s offense chipped away at the lead in the second with a power play goal from Chris Clackson as part of its 17-shot barrage on Peter Delmas. Then 1:38 into the third Brendan Connolly netted the tying goal by pouncing on a rebound from a Brad Cole point shot. Brandon DeFazio, however, turned out to be the hero with his backhand shot at 10:47 that beat Nic Riopel high to the glove side. Riopel had 21 saves on the night but sustained the loss.
WHAT’S ON TAP FOR TONIGHT:
The Road Warriors and Nailers meet tonight in Game Four of their Eastern Conference semifinals series. Wheeling earned wins in Games One and Three while Greenville was triumphant in Game Two. The Road Warriors have gone 1-2-0 away from the BI-LO Center in the playoffs and are searching for their first road win since Game One in Elmira on April 5. Greenville is averaging 3.3 goals per game on the road while Wheeling is giving up 2.7 per game at home. This is the 3rd time these organizations have met in the playoffs. Winston Salem beat Johnstown 4-3 in the 1989 Riley Cup Finals and Wheeling beat Johnstown 3-1 in the 1993 Riley Cup Quarterfinals.
Road Warriors defensemen Sam Klassen and Brad Cole have thrived in the playoffs when it comes to keeping opponents’ scoring chances at bay. Klassen leads all defensemen, and is tied for tops among all skaters, with a +7 plus/minus rating. Cole is right behind him at +5 which is the third highest amount among playoff defensemen. Klassen has been even or better in each playoff game so far and has topped out at +2 twice (Greenville won each game). Cole has also been no worse than even in a game during the playoffs and has been plus one or better in four of his last five games.
– Dating back to the regular season, Greenville is 7-1-1 in the last nine games that Jimmy Kilpatrick scored a goal.
– In the 2010 Kelly Cup Playoffs three of the four second round series were over in five games or fewer with three upsets.
– Shane Harper has seven goals in his last 10 games dating back to March 31, 2011 vs. Gwinnett.
– Greenville is averaging 40 shots per game in the series after registering 42 last game, and have no fewer than 36 shots in a game. Wheeling has been limited to 22.3 shots per game.
– The Road Warriors have scored first in two of the three games this series and four of their seven playoff games overall. They are 3-1-0 when scoring first in a game.
The Road Warriors will be back in action on Saturday, April 23 for Game Five at WesBanco Arena at 7:35 p.m. Road Warriors fans can head to Bailey’s Sports Grille for another Road Warriors Watch Party. Bailey’s, 2409 Laurens Road in Greenville is the official watch party location for all Road Warriors away games. So grab a group of friends and get there for the Road Warriors up on the big screens courtesy of Bailey’s and America One. The Road Warriors will return home for Game Six, if necessary, on Tuesday, April 26 at 7:35 p.m. at the BI-LO Center. All students can get into the game for $6 by purchasing their ticket the day of the game at the BI-LO Center Box Office. There are also group discount tickets available for groups of five or more. Call 864-674-PUCK to speak to a Road Warriors representative.