Sound bytes and video provided by Pete Krupsky and Scott MacDonald for www.plymouthwhalers.com.
UELPH - Danny Vanderwiel recorded his first Ontario Hockey League hat trick - and his first three goals of the year - and goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 38-of-40 shots for the second straight road game as the Plymouth Whalers defeated the Guelph Storm, 6-2, on Wednesday before 3,362 at Sleeman Centre in Guelph.
The Whalers improve to 17-12-5-3, good for 42 points and sole possession of second place in the OHL West Division, three points behind Sarnia. Guelph is now 21-12-0-4.
Matt Mistele (16), Alex Aleardi (15) and Tom Wilson (11 and a goal in his fourth straight game) also scored for the Whalers while Cody Payne andMitchell Heard - just back from the American Hockey League - contributed two assists apiece.
Zac Leslie (7) and Scott Kosmachuk (19) replied for Guelph.
The first period was scoreless but not uneventful. Wilson apeeared to score for the Whalers on a power play at 1:25 of the period, but referees Mike Cairns and Keith Kaval ruled the puck was directed in with a kicking motion.
Nedeljkovic played a strong first period, stopping all 17 shots he faced.
Vanderwiel got the scoring started at 6:18 of the second period to give Plymouth a 1-0 lead, accepting Payne's pass and working by Guelph captain Matt Finn to score on a partial breakaway. Later, good cycling by Michael Whaley, Connor Sills and Vanderwiel resulted in a 2-0 lead at 8:07. Whaley found Sills just outside the blue ice, who got a shot on Guelph goaltender Keegan Wilson, who made the save, but Vanderwiel scored on the rebound.
Plymouth led, 2-0, after forty minutes.
The third period opened up. After Leslie scored on a power play for Guelph at 0:35 (shot from the left circle, top shelf), Plymouth came back to score three goals in a span of 3:21 to extend the lead to 5-1. Mistele capped good pressure in the Guelph zone, skating out of the right corner and snapping the shot past Keegan Wilson at 4:19. Then Aleardi scored at 6:50, working in on a partial two-on-one and scoring top shelf, to give Plymouth a 4-1 lead.
Guelph head coach Scott Walker pulled Keegan Wilson and replaced him with Jason DaSilva. But Heard - stationed beyond the goal line - found Vanderwiel and he made no mistake with his hat trick at 7:40 to give Plymouth a 5-1 lead.
AUDIO - Vanderwiel hat trick.
VIDEO - Vanderwiel First Star Interview.
VIDEO - GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Kosmachuk (9:03) and Tom Wilson (Whalers power play at 10:34) closed the scoring.
Guelph outshot Plymouth, 40-31.
Plymouth is home this weekend, hosting Owen Sound on Friday at 7:05 p.m. (6:50 p.m., broadcast on www.plymouthwhalers.com) and Guelph on Saturday (7 pm, Comcast 900 television).