Every practice, the Plymouth Whalers - like all Ontario Hockey league teams - spend time working on the power play.
Friday night - before a sellout crowd of 3,869 at Compuware Arena - Plymouth's power play perked up in a 5-3 win over the Windsor Spitfires.
The sellout crowd of saw the Whalers retain a share of first place in the OHL’s West Division. Plymouth improves to 10-5-2-1, good for 23 points and a first place tie with Sarnia (now 11-7-0-1). The Sting beat Guelph, 4-2, on Friday night.Windsor is now 8-8-0-4.
With referees Joe Celestin and Kevin Blundell calling things tightly, both teams' power play got a workout, with Plymouth going 3-for-9 on the power play and Windsor 3-for-10.
Stefan Noesen led the Plymouth attack with two goals (11-12) and two assists as the game’s first star. Second star Garrett Meurs scored a goal (10) and two assists. Connor Carrick (4th) and Michael Whaley (first of the year) scored the other Plymouth goals. Matt Mahalak stopped 34-of-37 shots for the Whalers.
Chris Marchese led Windsor with a goal (5th) and two assists. Michael Clarke (7th) and Kerby Rychel (12th) scored single goals for Windsor.
The Whalers led 2-1 after one period and 5-3 after forty minutes.
After Marchese potted home a rebound at 4:32 from the hashmarks to give Windsor a 1-0 lead, the Whalers responded with an excellent passing play started by Ryan Hartman, who found Noesen in the left circle in the Windsor zone, who hit Meurs with a good pass at the right circle. Meurs popped the water bottle to tie the game at 11:36.
Meurs and Noesen joined forces to find Carrick in the high slot and he wired a high shot under the cross bar at 13:08 to give Plymouth a 2-1 lead - a lead they never relinquished.
The Whalers dominated at times over the first two periods. Plymouth's forward line of Noesen, Rickard Rakell and Meurs took over the in final 90 seconds of the first period and just missed scoring with sustained pressure.
"We were able to pound the puck in deep," Noesen said after the game. "And getting Tom Wilson back really helped."
Michael Whaley scored his first goal of season at 2:35 of the second period to give the Whalers a 3-1 lead. The goal was set up by the good work of Danny Vanderwiel, who skated hard from neutral territory into the Windsor zone on the right wing and headed towards the net. Windsor goaltender Jaroslav Pavelka made the first save, but Whaley followed up the play to tap home the rebound.
0:32 later, Noesen scored his first on the night, capping sustained pressure again in the Windsor zone. Rakell won several battles for pucks behind the Windsor goal and jammed the puck from the right post across to Noesen at the left, who put the puck into an empty net at 3:07.
After Clarke scored on a rebound at 5:30 of the period to cut the Plymouth lead to 4-2, the Whalers dominated again, this time on a two-minute five-on-three power play midway through the second period. Plymouth kept the play alive again in the Windsor zone for a extended period, capped off when Noesen ripped a shot from the left circle at 11:35 to give the Whalers a 5-2 lead.
Rychel scored for Windsor at 14:37 of the period to cut the Whalers lead to 5-3 and finish the scoring.
Windsor outshot Plymouth in the third period, 17-12, and never quit. Spitfires head coach Bob Boughner pulled Pavelka for the extra attacker with 2:05 left but Windsor couldn't get any closer.
Plymouth outshot Windsor, 51-37.
Another big crowd is expected Saturday night as Plymouth plays London at 7:05 p.m. at Compuware Arena (7 pm, 88.1FM WSDP).