Gianluca Curcuruto and Matt Mistele scored two goals each and Vince Trocheck added three assists as the Plymouth Whalers led from start to finish in a 4-1 victory over the Peterborough Petes in an Ontario Hockey League game played Saturday night before 2,669 at Compuware Arena.
Plymouth (now 26-15-5-4, 61 points) remains in first place in the Ontario Hockey League’s West Division. The Whalers are one point ahead of Sault Ste. Marie (28-19-2-2, 60 points). The Greyhounds beat Saginaw, 5-4 in a shootout, on Saturday.
Peterborough (now 16-28-3-4, 39 points) remains in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, trailing Kingston by six points for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Whalers unleashed a devastating forecheck over the first two periods of the game, outshooting Peterborough, 27-11, in the first period and 58-39 over sixty minutes.
Peterborough had no answer for the Whalers' forecheck in the first period and didn't have much push-back until the third period when Plymouth had a 4-0 lead.
"We worked through our checks and worked really hard tonight," said Curcuruto, who was named the game's first star. "The chemistry was there. We outshot them and outchanced them and that obviously helps towards the win."
"We played a lot better than last night, we're burying out chances and getting a lot of shots," said Plymouth captain Colin MacDonald. "The main thing is we crashed the net and forced their goalie (Michael Giugovaz) to cover the puck up or we're going to put it home."
Curcuruto started the scoring for Plymouth at 0:35 of the first period, ripping a hard shot from the high slot after Trocheck won a draw in the Peterborough zone and found Nick Malysa and the left point. Malysa passed to Curcuruto, who made no mistake.
"We won the draw and my 'd' partner (Malysa) fed it across," Curcuruto said. "I was ready for the one-timer and I took the shot."
Mistele then scored twice - at 8:02 on a power play (set up by Trocheck pass from behind the net, waiting and burying the shot from the hashmarks) and on a scramble in the Peterborough blue ice at 13:42 – to give the Whalers a 3-0 lead after one period. Mistele has 25 goals this season.
Curcuruto scored at 0:41 of the second period to give Plymouth a 4-0 lead, finding a loose puck in the slot and burying the shot for his eighth goal of the season.
Nelson Armstrong scored the lone Peterborough goal at 3:34 of the third period (and his first OHL goal) to ruin Plymouth goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic’s shutout bid. Nedeljkovic stopped 38-of-39 shots as the game’s third star to improve his overall record to 7-1-1-1.
"Ned's been great for us this year," MacDonald said. "Considering how young he is, he's got a lot of confidence and it shows by the plays he makes out there. He made some pretty big saves tonight to keep the score the way it is."
Plymouth is home next weekend, hosting Barrie on Friday (7 p.m., Comcast 900) and Owen Sound on Saturday at Compuware Arena. Both games start at 7:05 p.m.