Plymouth Whalers Roll to 7-2 Win in Erie
Whalers' Vince Trocheck nets 2 goals, 2 assists in rout.
ERIE, PA - Plymouth Whalers center Vince Trocheck put on a show Friday night at Erie Insurance Arena.
With nearly 30 family members and friends watching, Trocheck - from Pittsburgh, PA - scored two goals and added two assists as the Whalers beat the Erie Otters, 7-2, before 3,042.
Plymouth improves to 36-17-5-4, good for 81 points and first place in the OHL West. The Whalers are nine points up on second place Sault Ste. Marie (33-22-3-3, 72 points), who lost, 6-3, to Guelph on Friday. Plymouth is 11 points ahead of third place Sarnia (33-25-0-4, 70 points), who lost, 4-3 in a shootout, to London on Friday.
Besides Trocheck's pair (44-45), the Whalers also received goals on Friday from Garrett Meurs (27), second star Rickard Rakell (24), Mitchell Heard (9), Austin Levi (2) and Tom Wilson (22). Third star Matt Mistele and defenseman Connor Carrick recorded two assists each for Plymouth.
Plymouth goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic - from Parma, OH - had a dozen family members and friends in attendance and stopped 17-of-19 Erie shots to raise his record to 15-2-1-1.
Stephen Harper (18) and Connor McDavid (25) acored for Erie.
After Harper scored the first goal of the game at 2:47 of the first period, Trocheck tied the game at 1-1 at 12:39 with a rising shot from the slot that beat Erie goaltender Oscar Dansk.
The Whalers took the lead for good with two goals in a span of 20 seconds later in the period to lead, 3-1. Heard, Mistele and Meurs completed a three-on-two break at 18:03, when Mistele - who had a good shot available in the slot - found Meurs breaking for the net and connected with him with the pass. Meurs made no mistake and the Whalers had their first lead of the game.
Then Trocheck started and finished a play to give the Whalers a 3-1 lead at 18:23 when (after an Otters' icing) he won a draw in the Erie zone and scored on a rebound from Gianluca Curcuruto's shot from the point.
Plymouth never looked back.
After McDavid cut the Plymouth lead the 3-2 at 0:39 of the second period, the Whalers pulled away with goals by Rakell at 3:39 (Ryan Hartman at the left circle, found Rakell breaking in on the right wing), Heard at 7:31 (scoring from the right post/back door, accepting the pass from Mistele) and Levi at 18:27 (short handed goal, scoring from the left point aided by an effective Stefan Noesen screen). Plymouth led, 6-2, after forty minutes.
Wilson scored the only goal of the third period, capping excellent pressure in the Erie zone, scoring on a second rebound at 8:32.
Plymouth outshot Erie, 37-17.
Trocheck now has 45 goals with 52 assists for 97 points in 57 games this season. In 258 games in the OHL, Trocheck has 115 goals and 172 assists for 287 points in 258 games.
The Whalers continue on the road Sunday in Mississauga (2 p.m., www.plymoutwhalers.com) and Tuesday in Saginaw (10:30 a.m., 88.1 FM WSDP, www.plymouthwhalers.com) before returning home on March 10 at 2 p.m. against Saginaw.
WIN WITH DEFENSE: In Plymouth's 36 victories this season, the Whalers have allowed no more than 0,1,2, or 3 goals in 35 victories. The only deviation came on Feb. 16 when the Whalers defeated Guelph, 7-4.