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Plymouth Whalers Move Into First Place With 3-0 Whitewash Over Windsor

Plymouth now 12-7-3-1; hosts Kingston on Friday.

PLYMOUTH – On November 14th, the Plymouth Whalers lost, 8-7, in Saginaw.

One week later, the Whalers have allowed just five goals over their next three games and are back in first place in the Ontario Hockey League's West Division.

On Thanksgiving Eve, Matt Mahalak stopped 26 shots for his first shutout of the season and Tom Wilson, Alex Aleardi and Zach Bratina scored goals as the Whalers defeated the Windsor Spitfires, 3-0, in an Ontario Hockey League game played Wednesday before 2,575 at Compuware Arena.

The victory moves Plymouth into sole possession of first place in the OHL’s West Division with a record of 12-7-3-1, good for 28 points and two points ahead of Sarnia.  Windsor is now 9-10-1-4.

Plymouth's depth was a factor in the victory.  With captain Colin MacDonald, Stefan Noesen and Curtis Crombeen out of the lineup with various injuries, the Whalers still had plenty of firepower against Windsor.

Want proof? On Nov. 9, Plymouth defeated Windsor, 5-3, pelting Spitfires goaltender Jaroslav Pavelka with 51 shots.  Tonight, the Whalers launched 52 shots against Pavelka, who played well and kept the score respectable.

While Mahalak stopped 26 shots for his fifth career shutout, he had plenty of help from his teammates.  Defensemen and first star Gianluca Curcuruto contribted an assist, was +3 and played well in all areas of the ice.  Other D-men Connor Carrick, Mitch Jones, Alex Peters, Austin Levi, Simon Karlsson and Nick Malysa won puck battles all night.

Whalers pup Connor Sills didn't score, but played one of his best games with Plymouth, challenging Windsor veteran Kerby Rychel late in the third period after he collided with Mahalak.

"We came together as a team and listened to the coaches tonight," Curcuruto said after the game.  "It was a character win.  We didn't get caught in the bad stuff out there.  Windsor was taking away the boards tonight, but we kept threading the needle up the middle (with passes) and played a good game overall.  We didn't give them many quality shots in the slot and Mally (Mahalak) made some great saves when they were needed.  It was a great game for everybody."

Wilson scored the only goal of the first period, his fourth of the season at 11:36.  The play started with good fundmantals. Plymouth cneter Ryan Hartman won a face off from Josh Ho-Sang in the Windsor zone and found Austin Levi at the left point.  Levi’s shot was stopped by Pavelka, but Wilson - battling for position in front of the Windsor goal with a Spitfire defender - scored on the rebound.

The Whalers put the game away for good with two goals within 54 seconds in the second period. 

Plymouth's Rickard Rakell - always strong on the puck - kept the play alive in the Windsor zone for a long time and found Simon Karlsson at the point, who passed to Curucruto in the high slot.  Pavelka stopped Curcuruto's shot, but Aleardi reached around Pavelka in the blue ice to score at 13:30.

Rakell and Garrett Meurs combined to find linemate Bratina in front of the Windsor goal, who scored on a low shot for his second of the season at 14:44.

Plymouth outshot Windsor, 52-26, over the full 60 minutes and 39-12 over the final two periods.

The Whalers are back in action Friday at 7:05 pm at Compuware Arena, hosting the Kingston Frontenacs (7 pm, Comcast 900).

 

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