GUELPH – One of the Plymouth Whalers’ fundamental points of success showed up again Thursday night at Sleeman Centre in Guelph:
Win the third period, win the game.
The Whalers broke a 2-2 tie after forty minutes with three unanswered goals in the third period and Plymouth defeated Guelph, 5-2, to even the best-four-of-seven Ontario Hockey League Western Conference Quarterfinal series at two-games each.
Game Five of the series will be played Saturday at 7:05 pm at Compuware Arena; game six happens Sunday at 6:30 pm at Sleeman Centre.
Mitchell Heard snapped the tie for Plymouth with his first goal of the series at 6:00 of the third period to give the Whalers the lead. Alex Aleardi sealed the game with a pair of goals (3-4 of the series) later in the third period. Earlier, Tom Wilson scored his second goal of the series (and second in two games) in the first period and Dario Trutmann scored his first of the series in the second period. Scott Wedgewood played well in goal for the Whalers, stopping 31-of-33 Guelph shots and the game’s third star.
Zack Mitchell and Cody McNaughton scored the Guelph goals.
The Whalers never trailed in the game. Wilson started the scoring at 9:55 of the first period, redirecting Nick Malysa’s shot from the point past Guelph goaltender Garret Sparks. Second effort led to the goal, as Heard and Danny Vanderwiel won battles for the puck along the boards and Malysa – joining the play – hustled to the point and controlled the puck the left point. Wilson then beat a Guelph defender to a spot in front of the Storm goal.
The Storm had two goals waved off in the period – at 11:45 (after video review, the ruling was that Wedgewood kept the puck out of the Plymouth net) and 16:17 (referees Dave Lewis and Garrett Rank ruled that Cody McNaughton gloved the puck into the net).
Still, Mitchell tied the game at 1-1 at 18:32.
The Plymouth power play got rolling at 1:06 of the second period on Trutmann’s blast from the high slot that went all the way past Sparks. Guelph re-tied the game at 2-2 at 3:04 when MCNaughton’s shot from the right circle caromed off Wedgewood’s glove.
After being outshot, 14-7 by Guelph in the first period, the Whalers outshot the Storm, 18-8, in the second frame.
Working again on a power play, J.T. Miller – stationed on the Plymouth side of center – found Heard with a stretch pass at the Guelph line. Heard cut to his left and buried the shot past Sparks at 6:00.
Aleardi went to work to extend the Plymouth lead to 5-2. His first goal came at 13:55 with Guelph looking for a penalty in the Plymouth zone. Play continued and Aleardi worked by two defenders in the Guelph zone, then tucked a back hand, top shelf by Sparks. Aleardi’s second goal of the period came happened when he skated from behind the Guelph goal, moved out in front, then scored on the shot.
Plymouth outshot Guelph, 34-33.
More coverage Video from the Ontario Hockey League (second half – Plymouth-Guelph highlights). Tony Saxon, Guelph Mercury.