GREENVILLE, SC – The Greenville Road Warriors used a three-goal first period to propel themselves to a 6-3 victory over the Wheeling Nailers on Tuesday night at the BI-LO Center. The win forced a decisive Game Seven at the BI-LO Center on Wednesday night at 7:35.
The Road Warriors came storming out of the gates and scored the first goal less than five minutes in for the third straight contest. Greenville took advantage of a Wheeling penalty to goalie Peter Delmas and jumped out to an early lead. Just 12 seconds after the power play began, Marc-Andre Bourdon sent a rocket toward the net that was redirected by Andrew Carroll past Delmas at 4:56. Carroll scored his first goal of the playoffs in his first action this series. Assists on the play were recorded by Bourdon and Justin Bowers. Greenville wasted little time and extended the lead to two goals after Brendan Connolly notched his fifth goal of the playoffs. Shane Harper skated down the right side unchecked and fired a shot at Delmas which was deflected off his pads toward the left wing. Connolly slipped ahead of his defender and with an outstretched stick, poked it past Delmas as he fell to his knees. Nailers coach Stan Drulia replaced Delmas with Patrick Killeen after the goal at 6:32 of the first. The Road Warriors connected on their second power play opportunity of the night at 12:25. Andrew Rowe was sprung on a breakaway by Blake Parlett and lifted a forehand shot past Killeen for his second of the playoffs. Nic Riopel made 13 stops in the period to keep Greenville ahead by three.
Tempers flared and play got a bit chippy during the second period. Fourteen minutes of combined penalty time were dished out in the first 9:25 of the second, but neither team could convert during the parade to the penalty box. At the 13:32 mark, the Road Warriors used an odd-man rush to extend the lead. Connolly carried the play in on the right wing, looked off Killeen as Chris Chappell was driving to the front of the net, and lifted a shot high to the glove side for his second of the night.
Wheeling’s comeback began at 14:32 with a pair of goals in a span of 29 seconds to cut the Greenville lead in half. Doug Rogers scored each of the goals, his first two of the playoffs, and brought the Nailers within two at 4-2. Wheeling received a late power play chance after Brendan Connolly was called for interference, but Greenville withstood the extra attacker and closed the period with a two goal lead. Riopel saw five shots in the period and denied three of them.
Chris McKelvie stole away much of Wheeling’s comeback momentum when Carroll hit him with a pass from behind the net and whipped a shot past Killeen 10:44 into the period to make the score 5-2. Sam Klassen registered the second assist. Wheeling’s Dan Henningson picked up his first goal of the playoffs to close the gap to two goals and gave a breath of hope back to the Nailers. That hope was quickly shattered when Carroll sent a feed to Marc-Olivier Vallerand and he slipped the puck around an outstretched Kileen and into the net for the nail in the coffin just 13 seconds after Henningson’s goal. Both Bowers and Carroll received their second assist of the night. The Road Warriors defense shut down Wheeling for the remainder of the period and held on for the three-goal victory
Riopel stopped 27 of 30 shots faced to earn his second straight win and third overall in the series. Wheeling outshot Greenville 30-24. Greenville went 2-for-6 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill.
Mark your calendars! The Road Warriors face Wheeling in Game Seven Wednesday, April 27 at 7:35 p.m. at the BI-LO Center. Tickets for groups of five or more people start at just $8 and can be purchased by calling the Road Warriors at 864-674-PUCK. There is also a ticket special for Upstate students, kindergarten through college, who can purchase a gold-level ticket for just $7. That offer is available exclusively through the BI-LO Center Box Office.