Justin Vaive's Teddy Bear Toss goal sent a franchise best-11,813 bears to the ice, but the Cyclones ultimately fell 3-2 to the Wheeling Nailers Saturday night at Heritage Bank Center.
A crowd of 12,187 fans gathered at Heritage Bank Center, marking the largest attendance for a Cyclones home game since November 13, 2018. It was also the seventh home game in Cyclones history to have had over 12,000 fans attend.
The Cyclones are 17-6-3-2 with 39 points through 28 games this season. Wheeling improves to 16-14-1 and have 33 points.
- Cincinnati outshot Wheeling, 12-4 in the opening frame, but the Nailers carried a 2-1 lead into the second period. Brooklyn Kalmikov got the scoring started four minutes into the first as the rookie took a shot off a face-off that beat Beck Warm's glove.
- Justin Vaive (13) prevailed as the Teddy Bear Toss hero, getting Cincinnati on the board 12:32 into the game. The captain collected a pass at the blue line for a breakaway, where he shoved a puck past Bailey Brkin, tying the game and sending 12,187 fans at Heritage Back Center into a stuffed animal frenzy.
- Tyler Drevitch drove Warm's crease on a pass fed to him by Gino Esteves with under five minutes remaining in the period to put Wheeling back up, 2-1.
- Louie Caporusso (12) continued his great season by tying the game midway through the second period. A tic-tac-toe play began with Zach Berzolla finding Zack Andrusiak with a diagonal pass to the right wing circle. From there, Andrusiak, slid it to Caporusso who was on top of the crease to bang one past Brkin, making it 2-2.
- Carter Johnson lifted the Nailers ahead with a 3-2 power play goal in the third period. With Sean Allen in the box for slashing, Johnson redirected a Josh Maniscalco point shot past Warm with 8:09 remaining to give Wheeling its game-winning-goal.
- The Cyclones will play their first away game of the new year Sunday evening when they visit the Toledo Walleye.