BRAMPTON - Plymouth Whalers assistant coach Scott MacDonald called the Whalers game on Sunday afternoon in Brampton a business trip.
“Go in, work hard, get the two points and go home,” MacDonald said.
Led by the forward line of Vince Trocheck, Tom Wilson and Ryan Hartman and 36 saves by goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic, that’s exactly what the Whalers did in a 5-2 victory over the Battalion before 2,380 at Powerade Centre.
Plymouth remains in first place in the OHL West Division and improves to 28-16-5-4, good for 65 points. Sarnia (30-21-0-3, 63 points) moved into second place in the West Division with a 6-5 win over Barrie in overtime. Sault Ste. Marie (29-21-2-2, 62 points) is in third after losing, 4-2, on Sunday in Oshawa.
Trocheck dominated in all areas of the ice on Sunday in Brampton for the Whalers as an easy choice for the game’s first star, scoring four goals and +4 on the afternoon. Since coming over from Saginaw at the OHL Trade Deadline, Trocheck has scored 14 goals with 16 assists for 30 in 13 games for the Whalers.
Chad LaRose is the last Whaler to score for goals in a game. It happened on Oct. 6, 2002 at the Hershey Centre in a 7-4 Plymouth victory over the Mississauga IceDogs.
Trocheck had plenty of help from his linemates. Tom Wilson scored a goal (16) with two assists and was +3. Ryan Hartman was named the game’s second star after recording three assists and was +2.
The Trocheck-Wilson-Hartman combination is on fire. The line has scored eight goals with 12 assists for 20 points and a combined +21 over two games, both Plymouth victories.
All three linemates touched the puck deep in the Brampton zone in the game’s first shift to give an early lead. Trocheck – always opportunistic - followed a pinballing puck at the hashmarks through traffic and beat Brampton goaltender Matej Machovsky at 0:46 to give Plymouth a 1-0 lead.
Since the Christmas Break, the Whalers power play has been operating at over 30 percent and the power play clicked again to give Plymouth a 2-0 lead at 3:46. Garrett Meurs – at the left goal line in the Brampton zone – fed the puck across to Wilson, who made no mistake just outside the blue ice.
Plymouth led, 2-0, one period.
Brampton cut the Whalers’ lead to 2-1 at 1:02 of the period. Nedeljkovic made a save on Jamie Lewis, but the puck squirted free at the hashmarks and was buried by Blake Clarke at 1:02.
But Trocheck took over to extend the Plymouth lead to 4-1, scoring at 5:29 from the left side of the Brampton goal with a backhand and then potting home a breakaway, shorthanded, at 9:24.
Brampton head coach Stan Butler replaced Machovsky with Jake Smith, who went the rest of the way in goal for the Battalion. Machovsky went 9-for-13 in 29:24, while Smith stopped at 10 shots he faced.
Goodrow cut the Plymouth lead to 4-2 at 17:21 of the second period as he parked in front of the Whalers goal and scored on a rebound.
The Battalion outshot the Whalers, 13-9, in the third period, (38-24 in the game) but could not get any closer. Nedeljkovic played well to raise his won-loss record to 8-1-1-1 on the season. Trocheck iced the game with an empty net goal, scored when he picked up the puck along the left boards in the Plymouth zone and shooting it 150 feet through neutral territory and into the Brampton net.
Plymouth remains on the road this week, playing Wednesday in Saginaw (7 p.m., 88.1 FM WSDP) and Friday in Kitchener (7:15 p.m., 88.1 FM WSDP) before returning home Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at Compuware Arena, hosting the Guelph Storm.