The Plymouth Whalers gave a solid effort Saturday night against the London Knights before a sellout crowd of 3,657 at Compuware Arena.
But the London Knights struck for two goals in a span of 1:48 in the second period to overcome a 1-0 deficit and the Knights went on to defeat the Whalers, 4-2.
London has won 23 straight games and is 31-5-0-2. The Knights' last loss came on Nov. 1 to Windsor. The OHL record for consecutive victories is held by the 1983-84 Kitchener Rangers, who won 25 straight games.
Plymouth battled back in the third period, outshooting London, 15-3, only to fall short. The Whalers are now 15-12-5-3 (second place, OHL West Division).
The Rupert twins – Ryan and Matt – led the London attack with a goal and assist each. Ryan Rupert (first star) has four goals this season, while Matt Rupert (second star) has 18. Max Domi (21st) and Brett Welychka (12th) also scored for London.
Third star Tom Wilson (9th) and Zach Bratina (4th) scored for Plymouth.
After a scoreless first period, Wilson gave the Whalers a 1-0 lead at 11:46 of the second period, capping off pressure in the London zone started when Wilson rang the puck off the top of the London crossbar. Cody Payne's shot from the right point was deflected by Connor Carrick on goal. London goaltender Jake Patterson made the stop, but Wilson scored on the rebound from the left circle.
The Plymouth lead lasted just 20 seconds. Matt Rupert followed up his own shot from the left circle in the Plymouth zone and tied the game on the rebound at 12:06.
Domi gave London their first lead at 2-1 at 13:54, powering the puck from the left wing half-wall in the Plymouth zone and scoring on a low backhand from the left hashmark. Ryan Rupert increased the Knights' lead to 3-1 at 18:50 of the period, following up Bo Horvat's pass from behind the net to the right post and stuffing the puck past Plymouth goaltender Matt Mahalak.
Plymouth started to pressure in the third period, but Welychka scored on a solo rush at 6:20 in the Plymouth zone, ripping a shot at the Plymouth goal from the right circle that caromed off Mahalak and into the net to give London a 4-1 lead.
The Whalers didn't quit and made things interesting late in the game. Plymouth head coach Mike Vellucci pulled Mahalak twice for the extra attacker with 2:25 left and again with 1:30 remaining.
Trailing by three late in the third period, Bratina scored at 18:16 for the Whalers with the goaltender pulled and the extra attacker on the ice. Mitch Jones' shot from the point threaded its way through traffic and was redirected by Bratina.
London's Josh Anderson was whistled for roughing at 18:54 and the Whalers continued to pressure. Plymouth’s Garrett Meurs was awarded a penalty shot with 44 seconds remaining, but did not score on the attempt.
Vellucci called a time-out with 33 seconds left. With Anderson in the penalty box and Mahalak pulled, the Whalers had a six-on-four advantage, but could not get any closer.
Plymouth outshot London, 33-30.
- ADDITIONAL COVERAGE - Morris Dalla Costa, London Free Press.
The Whalers close out 2012 on Monday afternoon in Windsor at 2:05 p.m. (1:45 p.m., 88.1 FM WSDP).