Whalers Specialize in 7-1 Win Over Guelph
Guelph leads the series, 2-to-1.
The Ontario Hockey League playoffs attract National Hockey League scouts.
Scouts from at least 15 NHL teams watched the Plymouth Whalers host the Guelph Storm in Game 3 on Tuesday night at Compuware Arena, with Guelph leading the series, two-game-to-none.
“Watch Plymouth in the first five minutes,” one NHL scout said. “If they’re going to turn it around, you’ll be able to tell by then.”
It took a little more than five minutes, but the Whalers raced to a 3-0 lead in the first 8:53 of the game and went on to defeat the Guelph Storm, 7-1, in an Ontario Hockey League playoff game played before 2,006 on Tuesday at Compuware Arena.
Guelph leads the best-of-seven series 2-1, with Game 4 set for Thursday in Guelph (6:45 p.m., WSDP-FM, 88.1) and Game 5 on Saturday in Plymouth (6:45 p.m., WSDP-FM, 88.1).
Plymouth won the game of special teams decisively, going 5-for-8 on the power play and killing off 7-out-of-8 Guelph power plays.
The Whalers are now 8-for-20 on the power play against Guelph for 40 percent over three games. Plymouth has gone 13-for-17 on the penalty kill against Guelph in the series.
First star Stefan Noesen led the Plymouth attack with two goals and three assists. Noesen (the Whalers leading scorer in the regular season with 38 goals and 44 assists for 82 points in 63 games) now has four goals and three assists for seven points in three playoff games against the Storm.
Second star Andy Bathgate also scored a pair of power play goals, his first two goals of the playoffs. Alex Aleardi and Tom Wilson also scored power plays goals while Michael Whaley added an even strength goal. Third star Austin Levi contributed three assists for the Whalers, who outshot Guelph, 46-34.
“It was a great team effort,” Noesen said. “Guys were doing the little things and going back to the basics. That’s what Mike was stressing in practice yesterday. It was great to see the young guys get in the game in third period. It’s good to get them some experience.”
Scott Kosmachuk scored the lone Guelph goal - his second of the playoffs.
Plymouth led, 3-1 after one period and 6-1 after forty minutes.
Noesen scored the first two goals of the game, snapping a hard shot from the right circle on a Plymouth power play at 4:19 and then tipping Austin Levi’s shot from the left point with a Guelph defending hounding him in front of Storm goaltender Garret Sparks at 6:08.
“It hit my shin pad,” Noesen said of his second goal. “I honestly thought it was a stick that hit it (the puck). But Levi shot it right to me and I felt something hit my shin pad.”
Noesen assisted on the Whalers third goal, scored by Aleardi at 8:53. Plymouth won the battle for the puck on the play – after Noesen’s shot was stopped by Sparks, Wilson found the rebound at the right post and found Aleardi out in front, who score on an empty net.
“I shot the puck down low,” Noesen said of the third goal. “Wilson turned around and whacked at it. That’s what we stressed at practice – getting pucks to the net. Willy never gave up on the puck (the referee did not blow the whistle) – he took one whack at it, it popped free and Aleardi had an open net.”
Kosmachuk scored the lone Guelph goal at 13:54, as his quick shot pinged off the inside of the left post and rolled in, inches behind the goal line.
The Whalers effectively put the game away in the second period, extending the 3-1 lead to 6-1 on a power play goal by Wilson (rebound at 3:24), an even strength goal by Whaley at 16:20 (one timer from the right hashmark, set up by Mitchell Heard) and a power play goal by Bathgate at 19:29 (cross crease pass from the left post by J.T. Miller to Bathgate at the right post).
Bathgate scored the lone goal of the third period at 11:41, snapping home a loose puck outside the Guelph blue ice after Sparks stopped Noesen’s shot from the left circle.
Here’s the rest of the Plymouth-Guelph series:
Game 4 - Thursday, March 29 - Plymouth at Guelph, 7:00 p.m., Sleeman Centre.
Game 5 - Saturday, March 31 - Guelph at Plymouth, 7:05 p.m., Compuware Arena.
(*) Game 6 - Sunday, April 1 - Plymouth at Guelph, 6:30 p.m., Sleeman Centre.
(*) Game 7 - Tuesday, April 3 - Guelph at Plymouth, 7:05 p.m., Compuware Arena.
(*) if necessary