ROAD WARRIORS FALL IN OVERTIME OF GAME SEVEN
GREENVILLE, SC – The Greenville Road Warriors were defeated by the Wheeling Nailers, 4-3, in overtime on Wednesday night in Game Seven of their Eastern Conference semifinal. The loss ended the Road Warriors inaugural season.
Wheeling grabbed the 1-0 lead on its only power play goal of the series when Joey Haddad chopped home a rebound at the 12:31 mark of the first period. Chris Kushneriuk and (ex-Hartford Wolf Pack) Paul Crowder provided the assists on the goal in what would become a theme of the evening. That line accounted for all four of the Nailers’ goals on the night. Greenville battled back to tie the score at one with Marc-Olivier Vallerand’s fifth of the playoffs with 2:54 left to play in the first. Vallerand was set up in the high slot by Sam Klassen and drove a one-timer past Peter Delmas to tie the score. Delmas and Nic Riopel each stopped seven shots in the frame leaving the score deadlocked at one heading into the second.
The middle frame was where Wheeling snared control of the game with a pair of goals before the period became eight minutes old. Haddad finished off a 2-on-1 with Paul Crowder at 5:51 to restore Wheeling’s one-goal advantage and then set up Crowder’s score just a few moments later. After winning a puck battle on the forecheck, Haddad lifted a pass to Crowder in the high slot and his wrist shot went in high glove side at 7:26 for a 3-1 Wheeling lead. Greenville answered back with Brendan Connolly setting up Andrew Rowe’s tip-in goal at 16:27 of the second to pull Greenville back within one.
The third was a defensive struggle as Wheeling tried to hang on to its one-goal lead and Greenville pressed for the tying score. The Nailers were able to limit the Road Warriors to just four shots in the frame, but it was the last one that breathed life into the BI-LO Center. Kris Vernarsky was hit with a high-sticking minor with 2:15 remaining in regulation and sent the Road Warriors to their third power play of the night. With Riopel pulled for the extra attacker and time winding down, Connolly blazed a slap shot past Delmas with 23 seconds to play and sent the game to extra hockey.
Greenville managed seven shots in the overtime session, but could not feed one past Delmas. Wheeling turned a Road Warriors turnover into a 2-on-1 break and Kushneriuk finished off the pass from Haddad for the winner. The goal was Kushneriuk’s third of the playoffs and came at 8:23 of the overtime.
Riopel sustained the loss while making 21 saves. The Road Warriors were 1-for-3 on the power play and 2-for-3 on the penalty kill.
The Road Warriors wish to extend a sincere “Thank You” to all of the fans who made their inaugural season in Greenville a rousing success. Stay tuned to www.greenvilleroadwarriors.com over the summer for information on season ticket packages, team news including player signings, the 2011-12 season schedule, and more. We will see you back at the BI-LO Center in October!