KINGSTON - The Kingston Frontenacs came into Friday's game with the Plymouth Whalers with a two-game winning streak and at 5-3-0-0. As one of the youngest teams in the Ontario Hockey League, the Frontenacs are seen by many to be a team on the rise.
But an older, more experienced Whalers team dominated much of the way in an 8-3 victory before 3,199 at Plymouth's current home-away-from home, K-ROCK Centre.
The Whalers - now 4-3-2-1 - have never lost at K-ROCK Centre and have won four straight games since the building opened in 2008-09.
Kingston is now 5-4-0-0.
There were more than three stars for Plymouth tonight. Ryan Hartman had The Gordie Howe Hat Trick and a little more as the game's first star, scoring a shorthanded goal (his second of the year) with three assists, was +3 and got into a fight with Kingston's Jean Dupuy, who retaliated after Hartman bowled over Henri Ikonen at center ice in the third period. Garrett Meurs scored twice for the Whalers (5-6) as the game's second star. Rickard Rakell scored for the second straight game (his sixth of the year) as the game's third star.
In addition, Simon Karlsson scored his first OHL goal, Stefan Noesen scored his seventh of the year, Cody Payne scored a goal (6th) with two assists and was +3 and Matt Mistele added his third of the season. Danny Vanderwiel and Tom Wilson recorded two assists each. Zach Bratina didn't score, but played his best game as a Whaler.
Wilson was a physical force. Older Plymouth fans remember how James Neal and Jared Boll dominated the rink during the Whalers Championship Season of 2006-07. Wilson was similar tonight in Kingston.
Trevor Morbeck (second), Roland McKeown (second) and Darcy Greenaway (sixth) scored for Kingston.
The Whalers scored their goals in bunches, snapping a 1-1 tie in the first period with a pair of goals 27 seconds apart to lead 3-1 after twenty minutes. After Kingston cut the Plymouth lead to 3-2, the Whalers extended their lead to 6-2 with three goals in a span of 4:16 to lead 6-2 after two periods. The Whalers put the game away for good with a pair of goals 19 seconds apart in the third period to lead 8-2.
An effective fore-check helped Plymouth beat Peterborough, 2-1, on Thursday night, and Whalers used the same formula against a young Kingston defense with good success. Plymouth kept the play in the Frontenacs' zone for extended periods of time tonight.
After Karlsson (rebound from the right circle at 3:54) and Morbeck (re-direct at 6:33) traded power play goals in the first period, Wilson went to work to give the Whalers a 3-1 lead, powering the puck from behind the Kingston net to find Meurs at the hash marks at 9:02 and finding Noesen for a shot, top-shelf, at 10:29 with a similar play, as he navigated effectively through traffic.
McKeown scored for Kingston on a two-on-one at 4:48 of the second period to cut the Plymouth lead to 3-2, but the Whalers pulled away emphatically to extend the lead to 6-2. Hartman set up Meurs in the slot, who followed up his own rebound to score from the right circle at 6:19. Rakell - set up by Payne - scored just outside the blue paint, five-hole, at 8:04 to give Plymouth a 5-2 lead.
At that point, Kingston starting goaltender Mike Morrison was pulled in favor of rookie Colin Furlong. Morrison stopped 21-of-26 shots in 28:04 of work.
Plymouth kept coming, with Hartman scoring a highlight reel goal, shorthanded, at 10:35, to give the Whalers a 6-2 lead. Hartman followed McKeown behind the Kingston goal, stole the puck and scored on a wrap around.
The Whalers finished their scoring with a pair of goals 19 seconds apart in the third period to lead, 8-2. Mistele - a threat all night long - was rewarded as he skated unchecked out of the right corner in the Kingston zone and scored from the slot at 4:52. Payne scored at 5:11, completing a well executed two-one-one with Vanderwiel.
Greenaway completed the scoring at 14:24.
Plymouth outshot Kingston, 49-24. The last time Plymouth scored eight goals was Jan. 21 in an 8-0 victory over Sault Ste. Marie at Compuware Arena.
The Whalers remain on the road Sunday in Oshawa at 6 p.m. at General Motors Centre (www.plymouthwhalers.com).
After playing in London next Friday, the Whalers host Kitchener on Saturday, Oct. 27, at 7:05 p.m. at Compuware Arena.