Whalers Win Tenth in a Row, 5-3, Over the Soo
Photo - Alex Aleardi led the Whalers with a hat trick Wednesday night in Plymouth's 5-3 win in Sault Ste. Marie.
SAULT STE. MARIE - Alex Aleardi scored a hat trick and Jamie Devane and Mitchell Heard scored one each as the Plymouth Whalers built a 5-0 lead into the second period and defeated the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, 5-3, before 4,304 Wednesday at Essar Centre.
The Whalers won the battle of special teams decisively in the game, going 2-for-7 on the power play while killing off nine Soo power plays. Scott Wedgewood stopped 27-of-30 Sault Ste. Marie shots and Plymouth defensemen Mitch Jones, Austin Levi, Dylan MacDonald, Curtis Crombeen and Dario Trutmann - playing without injured defensemen Beau Schmitz, Nick Malysa and Colin MacDonald - played well.
The Whalers won their tenth straight game and move into sole possession of first place in the Western Conference with a record of 47-17-2-1, good for 97 points. Plymouth is two points ahead of idle London (47-17-0-1, 95 points). London plays in Windsor on Thursday.
Plymouth continues to dominate the West Division and is now 22-2-2-1 against Sault Ste. Marie, Windsor, Saginaw and Sarnia.
The 'Hounds - in ninth place in the Western Conference race and out of the playoffs - still have a mathmetical chance to make the playoffs, but with 60 points in 66 games, Sault Ste. Marie (now 27-33-2-4) is three points behind eighth place Windsor with two games remaining.
Mark Petaccio scored twice for the Soo and Ryan Sproul one.
Plymouth got off to a good start. Garrett Meurs was high-sticked by Sault Ste. Marie captain Carson Dubchak at 0:18. Meurs lost a tooth on the play and Dubchak was assessed a four-minute double minor. The Whalers scored on the subsequent power play as Heard carried the puck over the Soo and snapped a shot from the left circle. 'Hounds goaltender Jack Campbell got a piece of the shot, but it deflected into the goal for Heard's 29th of the year at 2:34.
The Whalers took a 2-0 lead on another power play goal at 13:51. Rickard Rakell carried the puck out of the left corner in the Soo zone and jammed the puck towards the goal. Aleardi found the puck through a ton of traffic (primarily Plymouth's Tom Wilson tied up with a 'Hounds defender) in front of the Sault Ste. Marie goal and scored on a backhand for his 34th goal of the year at 13:51.
In the middle of scoring goals, Plymouth penalty killers did an good job on three Soo power plays in the first period, so much so that the Whalers had an 11-4 shots on goal advantage in the period.
The Whalers then raced to a 5-0 lead into the second period. Andy Bathgate picked up a loose pass in the Soo zone and found Devane breaking in from the left circle. Devane made no mistake with the shot for his 23rd of the season at 8:30.
Wedgewood made his best stop of the game midway through the period, robbing Nick Cousins - set up directly in front of the Plymouth net - with a sharp glove save.
Aleardi then completed his hat trick with a pair of goals 0:59 apart at 13:09 and 14:08, respectively, chasing Campbell, who stopped 16-of-21 shots in 34:08. Matt Murray replaced Campbell.
The Soo got a goal back at 18;07 of the second period on Petaccio's shot from the right circle. Plymouth led, 5-1, after forty minutes.
Running out of time, Sault Ste. marie scored the only goals of the third period. Sproul's shot from the high slot deflected off something in front of Wedgewood and although he got most of the shot, it trickled over the line at 7:51. Petaccio scored his second goal of the game at 16:21 to cut the Plymouth lead to 5-3.
But that was as close as the Soo got the rest of the evening. Sault Ste. Marie outshot Plymouth, 30-29.
Plymouth finishes the regular season on Saturday at 7:05 at Compuware Arena, hosting Sarnia (6:45 pm, 88.1FM WSDP). The playoffs will start the following weekend.
|LONGEST WINNING STREAKS IN WHALERS HISTORY|
|17||Feb. 5 - Mar. 12, 2000|
|12||Jan. 2 - Feb. 3, 1995|
|10||Mar. 20 - Apr. 17, 1995 (*)|
|10||Feb. 24 - Mar. 15, 2012|
|9||Mar. 24 - Apr. 21, 2001 (*)|
|9||Jan. 8 - Jan. 23, 1999|
|8||Oct. 29 - Nov. 23, 2011|
|8||Feb 18 - Mar. 5, 2000|
|7||Jan. 16 - Jan. 30, 2010|
|7||Mar. 24 - Apr. 10, 2007 (*)|
|7||Dec. 17, 1999 - Jan. 8, 2000|
|7||Oct. 2 - Oct. 17, 1998|
|7||Nov. 27 - Dec. 18, 1999|
|6||Has happened 14 times|
|Bold is the current streak|