OWEN SOUND - The Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre in Owen Sound is a tough place to get to and the hometown Attack make the rink a tough place to play.
Skating before 2,744 and in front of scouts from at least 15 National Hockey League teams on Wednesday, the Plymouth Whalers gained a point in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Attack.
Cameron Brace scored only goal in the shootout to give Owen Sound the victory.
Plymouth (14-8-3-3, 34 points) regained a share of first place in the Ontario Hockey League's West Division with idle Sarnia (16-11-0-2, 34 points). Sarnia plays in Saginaw on Thursday.
Owen Sound doesn't get the headlines of London and Kitchener, but the Attack improved 22-5-1-2, good for 47 points and one point behind London in the Midwest Division.
Cody Payne (9) and Simon Karlsson (2) scored goals for Plymouth and goaltender Matt Mahalak was named second star in stopping 29-of-31 shots. Chris Bigras (3) and Gemel Smith (14) scored power play goals for Owen Sound and goaltender Jordan Binnington stopped 25-of-27 Plymouth shots.
“I thought it was a playoff-type atmosphere game,” Plymouth coach/president Mike Vellucci told the Owen-Sound Sun-Times “It was end-to-end and it was a good hockey game. I thought (Matt) Mahalak played real well especially in the third when they got all of their power plays. He made some big saves down the stretch.”
The first period was scoreless and evenly played with each team getting five shots.
Bigras gave Owen Sound a 1-0 lead at 9:23 of the second period, converting Zach Nastasiuk's pass from the left circle and scoring with a low shot from the right circle.
Plymouth fought back to take a 2-1 lead later in the period. Payne scored his first goal since Oct. 21 at 12:46 to tie the game at 1-1, threading a quick shot from the right circle inside the right post past Binnington. Karlsson gave the Whalers their first lead of the game at 14:21 on a power play, ripping a hard, low shot that pinballed off the traffic in front of Binnington.
Smith scored the only goal of the third period at 8:01, threading a shot through traffic past Mahalak. Later in the period, the Attack received an extended power play when Plymouth's Tom Wilson was assessed a double-minor for checking Danile Catennacci from behind. But the Whalers penalty killers (andStefan Noesen and Rickard Rakell in particular) played well and the game remained tied through regulation and then into the overtime.
Brace scored the only goal on the shootout to give the Attack the victory.
Plymouth is home the rest of this weekend, hosting Saginaw on Friday at 7:05 p.m. at Compuware Arena (Comcast 900, 7 pm, 88.1FM WSDP, 6:45 pm) and Oshawa on Saturday at 7:05 pm at Compuware Arena (6:45 pm, 88.1FM WSDP). This weekend the Whalers will be hosting their annual food drive in a partnership with the Gleaners Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan.