The Plymouth Whalers spotted the Owen Sound Attack a 2-1 lead in the first period before scoring three unanswered power play goals in the second period and the Whalers went on to defeat Owen Sound, 4-3, before 3,132 on Sunday afternoon at .
The Whalers won their ninth straight game and improve to 46-17-2-1, good for 95 points. Owen Sound is now 32-27-2-4.
Plymouth won the special teams game decisively, scoring all of their goals on the power play and went 4-for-7 with the extra man. After allowing an Owen Sound power play goal in the first period, the Plymouth penalty killers went to work the rest of the way and went 5-of-6 overall over the afternoon.
First star Stefan Noesen led the Plymouth attack with a pair of goals (36-37) and an assist - all in the second period. Third star Tom Wilson (9) and J.T. Miller (25) also scored for the Whalers, while Andy Bathgate and Mitchell Heard recorded two assists apiece. Cameron Brace (29), Jay Gilbert (10) and Devon Rymarchuk (first OHL goal) all scored for Owen Sound.
“We knew it was a big game coming in,” admitted Noesen. “There was a lot at stake and I’m glad we came out with a win.”
Plymouth had the edge in play early in the first period and struck first on Wilson’s goal at 4:01. Wilson – who played a strong, physical game all afternoon – worked by an Attack defender on the left wing, cut to his right and as he was being checked scored with a shot from the lower rim of the right circle past Owen Sound goaltender Scott Stajcer.
Owen Sound came back to take only their only lead of the game on Brace’s re-direct from the hashmarks at 11:26 and Gilbert’s backhand from the hashmarks through traffic at 19:15.
Plymouth responded in the second period, outshooting Owen Sound, 17-7, in the frame. Nosen tied the game at 2-2 at 6:36, following his own severe angle shot from the left goal line and bamging home the second rebound just inside the left post past Stajcer. Heard and Bathgate teamed up along the right boards in the Owen Sound zone to find Noesen at the left circle and he wired the shot from the lower rim of the circle to give the Whalers a 3-2 lead.
“We started working hard,” Noesen said about the second period. “We had some good movement on the power play. On the second goal, Mike (Vellucci) asked me if I passed it to myself, but I just followed up the shot. On the third goal, it was a great pass by Bathgate.”
Noesen and Bathgate worked to set up Miller form the eventual game-winning goal at 14:33. Noesen found Bathgate breaking into the Owen Sound zone. Bathgate went wide right wing and found Miller breaking to the net, who scored on a quick one-timer.
The Whalers – playing without injured defensemen Beau Schmitz and Colin MacDonald – lost the services of Dylan MacDonald, who was assessed a game misconduct for charging in the first period. Nick Malysa was injured at 10:05 of the second period after being checked from behind by Daniel Zweep. Zweep was given a game misconduct on the play and Maylsa played sparingly the rest of the game. The remaining Plymouth defensemen – primarily Curtis Crombeen, Austin Levi and Dario Trutmann – received help from Chris Albertini and Michael Whaley on the blue line the rest of the game.
Trailing 4-2, the Attack scored the only goal in the third period on Rymarchuk’s first OHL goal at 15:20, scored through traffic in front of Plymouth goaltender Scott Wedgewood. Owen Sound kept coming and head coach Greg Ireland pulled Stacjer for the extra attacker with 45 seconds left. The Attack’s last shot – with about 15 seconds left – was taken by Gilbert at the right point and was blocked by Trutmann.
Plymouth outshot Owen Sound, 37-36.
The Whalers' current nine-game winning streak is the team's third nine-game winning streak in Plymouth's 22-year history. The Whalers also won nine consecutive games from Jan. 8-23, 1999 and Mar. 23-Apr. 21, 2001 (playoffs). The team's longest winning streak ever is 17 games, set Feb. 5-Mar. 12, 2000.
The Whalers have two games left during the regular season. Plymouth plays in Sault Ste. Marie on Wednesday (6:45 p.m., 88.1 FM WSDP) and will finish the regular season on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at Compuware Arena against Sarnia (6:45 p.m., 88.1FM WSDP).
Plymouth's first-round playoff match up has not been finalized, but playoffs should start somewhere around March 23 or 24.