Whalers' Five-Goal Explosion Leads to Fifth Straight Win, 7-4, Over Guelph
Whalers come back from 0-3 deficit to Storm.
It was logical to assume that Plymouth Whalers head coach Mike Vellucci wasn't happy Saturday night after the Guelph Storm took a 3-0 lead over the Whalers after one period on Saturday at Compuware Arena.
And it is logical to assume that Vellucci would let the Whalers know how he felt about the period, on no uncertain terms.
According to veteran Plymouth defenseman Austin Levi, that's not what happened.
"Mike really didn't say anything," Levi said. "He left it up to us to decide what we wanted to do and how we wanted to respond."
The Whalers responded in a big way in the second period, roaring back with five unanswered goals in the second period to defeat the Storm, 7-4, in an Ontario Hockey League game played Saturday night before 2,970 at Compuware Arena.
Plymouth has won five games in a row and remains in first place in the OHL West with a record of 31-16-5-4, good for 71 points. The Whalers are four points ahead of second place Sarnia (32-22-0-3, 67 points), who defeated Oshawa, 4-2, tonight. Plymouth is five points up on third place Sault Ste. Marie (31-21-2-2, 66 points), won beat Kingston, 10-7, on Saturday.
First star Rickard Rakell – playing in his second game with Plymouth after returning from the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks – fueled the Whalers’ comeback with a goal (14) and two assists – all in the decisive second period. Matt Mistele recorded his second hat trick this season for Plymouth (27-28-29), while Sebastian Uvira (7), Vince Trocheck (42) and Stefan Noesen (18) all scored single goals for the Whalers.
Justin Auger (16), Hunter Garlant (10) and Robby Fabbri (10) scored in the first period for the Storm (31-19-1-4). After Auger scored in the first minute of the game at 0:45 to give the Storm a 1-0 lead, Garlant and Fabbri scored 14 seconds apart at 15:30 and 15:44, respectively, to give Guelph a 3-0 lead.
Ar that point, Plymouth goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic relieved starting goaltender Matt Mahalak and played the rest of the game. Nedeljkovic stopped 21-of-22 shots in 44:16 of work to raise his won-loss record to 10-1-1-1 over 16 games this season.
Rakell gave a foreshadowing of what was to come in setting up Uvira for Plymouth's first goal at 8:18 of the second period. Noesen ran in a Guelph player along the right wall in the Storm zone and the puck squirted free to Rakell, was passed the puck behind his back at the right goal line and found Uvira in front, who made no mistake.
Then Guelph defenseman Saverio Posa took a five-minute match penalty for high sticking and a game misconduct at 9:23. With Storm left wing Brock McGinn already off for tripping, the Whalers had an extended five-on-three power play.
Vellucci called time out at 10:24 of the period and the Whalers tied the game at 3-3 with two goals in nine seconds. Mistele banged home a rebound at the right post at 12:32 and Trocheck - right off the faceoff at center ice - skating into the Guelph zone to the right circle and wired a shot that popped the water bottle at 12:41.
Rakell gave the Whalers their first lead at 4-3 at 17:56 when Noesen won a draw in the Guelph zone, didn't quit on the puck and found Rakell at the hashmarks, who buried the shot, top shelf.
Noesen completed the scoring at 19:32, getting the shot on goal that Sparks got most of, but the puck trickled over the goal line with Rakell and Uvira batting away at it at the right post.
Guelph didn't quit in the third period. Bertuzzi scored from the slot at 14:30 of the period to cut the Plymouth lead to 5-4, but Mistele batted the puck off the back of Guelph backup goaltender Michael Nishi at 17:48 and completed his hat trick at 19:36 on the empty net.
The Whalers outshot Guelph, 46-33.
Plymouth plays in Sarnia on Monday afternoon (1:45 p.m., 88.1 FM WSDP) before returning home next weekend to host Windsor on Friday (7 p.m., Comcast 900 and 88.1 FM WSDP) and Sarnia on Saturday (7 p.m., www.plymouthwhalers.com).