SUDBURY – No matter what the circumstances are, good teams find a way to win in the Ontario Hockey League.
After controlling play for much of Thursday’s 4-1 win in Barrie against the Colts, the Plymouth Whalers came from behind three times to defeat the Sudbury Wolves, 6-5 in overtime, Friday night before 4,176 at the Sudbury Community Arena.
J.T. Miller’s second goal of the game (and 17th of year) at 4:03 of overtime proved to be the game winner for Plymouth. Beau Schmitz (13th), Andy Bathgate (17th), Alex Aleardi (27th) and Mitchell Heard (24th) also scored for the Whalers.
Nathan Pancel scored twice for Sudbury (11-12), while Andrey Kuchin (15), Sam Schutt (5) and Derek Schoenmakers (16) scored singles for the Wolves (now 24-16-3-1).
Plymouth – now with a three-game winning streak – improves to 33-12-2-1, good for 69 points and second seed in the Western Conference. The Whalers trail top seed London (36-10-0-1, 73 points) by four points. London defeated Windsor, 5-2, on Friday
Plymouth has an 18-point lead in the West Division race with second-place Sarnia (23-19-1-4). The Sting lost, 5-2 in Ottawa on Friday.
MORE CONTENT – Game story from the Sudbury Star.
Sudbury led, 2-0, after twenty minutes while outshooting Plymouth, 16-7, in the first period. Kuchin scored at 3:04 of the first period, scoring on a loose puck in front of Plymouth goaltender Matt Mahalak after Michael Sgarbossa’s shot did not get to the Plymouth goal. Pancel scored his first of the game at 18:25 on a rebound.
The Whalers came back on the power play to tie the game at 2-2 in the second period after Sudbury penalties to Chad Thibodeau at 6:09 and Justin Sefton at 6:54. Schmitz cut the Sudbury lead to 2-1 at 7:42, ripping a shot from the high slot with traffic in front of Wolves goaltender Johan Mattsson. Schmitz leads all OHL defensemen with nine power play goals.
The Whalers continued on the power play and Bathgate scored in his third straight game to tie the game at 2-2 at 8:06 with a shot from the left point that snuck through traffic.
Sam Schutt restored the Sudbury lead with a goal at 12:40 and the Wolves led, 3-2, after forty minutes.
The Whalers scored a pair of goals less than two minutes apart early in the third period to take their first lead of the game at 4-3. Aleardi tied the game at 3-3 with his team-leading 27th goal of the season. Jamie Devane carried the puck through center on the left wing and found Aleardi streaking up the right wing and into the Sudbury zone. Aleardi cut across, right-to-left on Mattsson and scored on a back hand at 4:34.
Miller scored his first goal of the game at 6:12 to give the Whalers their first lead at 4-3. Stefan Noesen picked off a loose pass in the Sudbury zone and found Bathgate in the high slot. Bathgate skated through the slot, cut to his right and found Miller on the left side of the Wolves blue ice.
But Sudbury came right back, tying the game 0:36 seconds later at 4-4 on Pancel’s second goal of the game. Schoenmakers restored the Sudbury lead at 5-4 at 13:59, two seconds after Bathgate’s penalty for tripping expired, when he re-directed Charlie Dodero’s shot from the right point past Mahalak.
Sudbury didn’t hold the lead for long. 0:23 seconds later, Heard – back on the ice after serving a ten-minute misconduct after a fracas with Sudbury’s Mackenzie Braid – tied the game at 14:22, scoring from the left circle with a well-placed shot over Mattsson’s shoulder and under the cross bar.
The game was tied, 5-5, after sixty minutes with Plymouth outshooting Sudbury, 36-33.
Schmitz had the first chance to win the game in overtime roughly 2:30 into the extra session when he was set up all alone of the left side of the goal, but Mattsson made the save.
Miller ended it at 4:03. Dario Trutmann started the play, working the puck out of the Plymouth zone to Heard who skated the puck into Sudbury territory. Heard moved to the right wing and dropped the puck to Miller, who moved from the top of the right circle to the hash marks and found the back of the net with a quick shot past Mattsson.
The Whalers outshot Sudbury, 5-2 in the overtime and 41-35 in the game.
Plymouth remains on the road Sunday in Sault Ste. Marie (20-24-2-2), playing the Greyhounds at 7:05pm at Essar Centre (6:50pm, www.plymouthwhalers.com). The Whalers stay on the road next Friday in Sarnia before returning home on Sat. Feb. 4 to host Windsor.
THURSDAY: Plymouth 4, Barrie 1.: The Plymouth Whalers struck for three first period goals over the first ten minutes of the game and controlled the game the rest of the way in a 4-1 victory over the Barrie Colts in an Ontario Hockey League game played Thursday before 3,480 at Molson Centre in Barrie.
First star Andy Bathgate led a balanced Whalers attack with a goal (16) and two assists and was +3. Goaltender Scott Wedgewood stopped 35-of-36 shots for Plymouth as the game’s second star. Rickard Rakell scored a goal (23) for the Whalers as the game’s third star.
Tom Wilson (7) and Jamie Devane (15) also scored for Plymouth. Steven Beyers scored the lone Barrie goal – his 12th of the year – in the second period.
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