SARNIA – The Plymouth Whalers did a lot of good things during Family Day on Monday afternoon at Sarnia.
Using a devestating forecheck over the first two periods and winning most of the one-on-one puck battles all afternoon, the Whalers won their sixth straight game, 10-2, over the Sarnia Sting in an Ontario Hockey League game played before 4,400 at RBC Centre in Sarnia.
Plymouth improves to 32-16-5-4, good for 73 points and six points ahead of Sarnia, now 32-23-0-3.
The Whalers have gone 5-0-0-1 over their last six games on the road, dating back to Jan. 24 in an 8-2 win over Windsor. Plymouth has outscored the opposition, 35-14, over those six games. Even in the shootout loss to Sarnia (5-4 on Jan. 25), Plymouth picked up a point.
Stefan Noesen had the hat trick (third in his career) and had plenty of help from the rest of his teammates. 16 of the 18 Plymouth skaters recorded at least one point in the game.
Besides Noesen (19-20-21), Rickard Rakell (15), Austin Levi (first of the year), Ryan Hartman (22), Connor Carrick (11), Cody Payne (17), Matt Mistele (30) and Tom Wilson (17) scored single goals for Plymouth. Vince Trocehck recorded a pair of assists for Plymouth and Gianluca Curcuruto had three assists and was +4 for the Whalers. Plymouth goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 13-of-15 shots to raise his won-loss record to 11-1-1-1.
Alex Basso scored both Sarnia goals (10-11).
Plymouth outshot Sarnia, 51-15, in the game, holding the Sting to one shot on goal over the entire third period.
Plymouth's forecheck led to the first goal of the game, scored by Rakell at 7:36 of the first period, to give Plymouth a 1-0 lead. The Whalers held the puck in the Sarnia zone for an extended period and Rakell worked throuhg traffic and snapped a shot from the left circle that Sarnia starting goaltender JP Anderson never saw.
Sarnia tied the game at 1-1 on a shorthanded goal by Basso, working into the Plymouth zone on a two-on-one with Reid Boucher setting up Basso for a one-timer.
But the tie lasted just 19 seconds as Noesen scored from the right circle (taking a pass from Garrett Meurs from the left wing half-wall to the right circle) at 19:35.
Plymouth effectively put the game away with four goals over a span of 99 seconds in the second period to extend the lead from 2-1 to 6-1. Goals by Levi at 7:08 (shot from the left point through a screen), Hartman at 7:44 (all alone with a loose puck in the blue ice) and Noesen at 8:06 (deflection at the hashmarks of Nick Malysa's shot) chased Anderson for Sarnia backup Knicholas Dawe.
Dawe gave up a goal on the first shot he faced at 8:47 when Carrick carried the puck to the right corner deep in the Sarnia zone and shot it towards the goal. The puck caromed in and the Whalers had a 6-1 lead.
Payne got going, scoring his 17th of the year on a rebound of Zach Lorentz's shot at 12:13 before Basso scored on a power play at 13:48. Plymouth led, 7-2, at that point.
The Whalers increased the lead to 9-2 later in the second period on a couple of power play goals after Sting defenseman Criag Duininck received a four minute double minor for high sticking. Mistele scored at 15:01 (playing Carrick's high shot off the glass that caromed in front of the goal) and Noesen at 16:13 (another deflection).
Plymouth continued to control the game in the third period with all four forward lines and six defensemen seeing plenty of ice time.
The Whalers scored one more goal in the third period at 5:45 when Trocheck, Wilson and Hartman broke in on an uncontested three-on-one from center ice in. The line passed the puck effectively until Wilson (running out of space) scored from just outside the Sarnia blue ice to give Plymouth a 10-2 lead.
When Sarnia's Nick Latta was assessed a slashing penalty, an unsportmanslike conduct penalty and a miscoduct at 9:49 of the third period , the Whalers had an extended four minute power play. Plymouth head coach Mike Vellucci changed up his power play units, using Nick Malysa, Michael Whaley, Colin MacDonald, Austin Levi and Zach Lorentz liberally on the power play.
Sarnia's only shot in the third period came from rookie Mateo Ciccarelli at 19:09 and was stopped by Nedeljkovic.
Plymouth scored 10 goals last season on March 7, 2012 in Erie in a 10-6 win over the Otters. The Whalers scored 11 goals in Sarnia on February 21, 2010 in an 11-3 victory.
We will be checking with the OHL office to see if Plymouth's four goals over 99 seconds is a record.
MORE COVERAGE: David Borody, Sarnia Sting.com.
The Whalers are home this weekend at Compuware Arena, hosting Windsor on Friday at 7:05 pm (7 pm, Comcast 900, 88.1 FM WSDP) and Sarnia on Saturday at 7:05 pm (6:50 pm, www.plymouthwhalers.com). Plymouth plays Sunday in Windsor against the Spitfires at 2:05 pm at Windsor Family Credit Union Centre.