Whalers Beat Oshawa, 4-3, in Overtime
Photo - Whalers celebrate after beating Oshawa, 4-3 in overtime on Friday at Compuware Arena. Photo by Rena Laverty.
PLYMOUTH - Stefan Noesen's third goal of the game at 2:35 of overtime gave the Plymouth Whalers a 4-3 victory over the Oshawa Generals in an Ontario Hockey League game played Friday night before 2,987 at Compuware Arena.
Plymouth breaks a two-game losing streak and improves to 38-17-2-1. The Whalers remain in first place in the West Division and second place in the Western Conference. Oshawa - who scored twice in the final minute of regulation with the goaltender pulled to tie the game and send it into overtime - is now 26-27-3-3, good for 58 points and seventh place in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
"I thought we played a really good team game tonight," Noesen said. "I had a couple of bounces go my way. But it was an all around team effort. We let them back in there at the end, but we faced adversity and came through it."
Besides Noesen's third career hat trick (goals 27-28-29 of the year), the Whalers also received a goal from rookie Matt Mistele, his third of the season.
Third star Lucas Lessio (29) scored in the second period for Oshawa. Andy Andreoff scored his 21st of the year with 32 seconds left in regulation and Christian Thomas tied the game with his 30th of the year with nine seconds left to send the game into overtime.
Second star Scott Wedgewood stopped 31-of-34 shots for the Whalers to improve his record to 20-9-2-1. Daniel Altshuller stopped 43-of-47 shots for Oshawa.
Noesen's game-winning goal came seven seconds after Oshawa's J.P. Labardo was given a tripping penalty at 2:28 of the overtime.
After Labardo was assessed the penalty, Plymouth head coach Mike Vellucci put Noesen, Andy Bathgate, Rickard Rakell and Beau Schmitz out on the four-on-three power play.
Noesen - who seemed to pick his spot from the left circle - described the game-winning goal.
"The play was to give it to Bather (Andy Bathgate) and have Beau go to the net and Bather walk around and try to hit me for a one-timer, or maybe go back to Ricki," Noesen explained. "But the defenseman didn't step up on me, so I just let it (the shot) go. The shot deflected off a stick and went in short side. It was a lucky bounce and I'm just happy to get the 'W'."
After losing twice last weekend by a combined score of 14-2, the Whalers got back to good habits tonight. For 59 minutes, Plymouth did a lot of little things well - blocking shots, playing a solid team game, receiving good goaltending from Scott Wedgewood, all while building a 3-1 lead late into the game.
Noesen scored the only goal of the first period at 13:38 on a Plymouth power play, capping off an excellent three-way passing play, started by J.T. Miller along the right wing boards to Bathgate at the right goal line. Bathgate threaded the pass across to Noesen at the left circle, who made no mistake.
Noesen scored again to give Plymouth a 2-0 lead at 1:44 of the second period on an excellent pass by Garrett Meurs, who controlled the puck on his knees from the left boards in the Oshawa zone and found Noesen breaking in from the high slot. Noesen held the puck at the hash marks, cut to his right and buried a shot from the lower rim of the right circle past Altshuller.
"Garrett made a great pass," Noesen said of his second goal. "I was going to go off on a line change, but I stayed on the ice for a split-second. The goalie took two steps out and was about a foot outside his crease. Our goalie coach (Stan Matwijiw) always says, if the goalie steps out, take a fake and then walk around him. He can't get back to the post in time. That's what I did."
Oshawa cut the Plymouth lad to 2-1 on Lessio's re-direct from the hashmarks at 13:39 of the period. Plymouth led, 2-1 after forty minutes.
The Whalers seemed to take a commanding 3-1 lead at 14:55 of the third period when Alex Aleardi found Mistele at the right lip of the blue ice in the Oshawa zone to score on a one-timer.
Trailing 3-1 late in the game, Oshawa head coach Gary Agnew called a time out with 1:10 left and pulled Altshuller for the extra attacker. The move worked twice, with both goals coming from the points with traffic in front of Wedgewood. Andreoff cut the Plymouth lead to 3-2 with a shot from the right point at 19:28 and Thomas tied the game with a shot from the left point with nine seconds left.
That set the stage for Noesen's game-winner.
Plymouth remains home Saturday night at 7:05pm at Compuware Arena, hosting Sudbury.
BACK IN THE OHL: Oshawa head coach Gary Agnew has been behind the bench in London (twice) and Kingston over his coaching career and took over earlier this season behind the bench in Oshawa.
He made his OHL coaching debut with the Knight on a special date in Whalers history. That date was September 20, 1990 at Cobo Arena against the brand-new expansion Detroit Compuware Ambassadors - now the Plymouth Whalers.
London won the first game in Whalers history, 5-0, on a Sean Basilio shutout.