Friday, March 03, 2006

Whalers take out Saginaw, 5-2

James Neal scored a goal and added two assists to lead the Plymouth Whalers to a 5-2 victory over the Saginaw Spirit Friday night at the Compuware Sports Arena.

Steve Ward scored two goals for Plymouth while center Evan Brophey had a goal and an assist and defenseman Ryan McGinnis added an empty-net goal for the Whalers. Jesse Gimblett and Ryan Berard scored for Saginaw.

Neal (above) scored what proved to be the game-winning goal at 16:32 of the second period, when he accepted Chris Terry’s pass in front of the Saginaw goal, cut to his left and appeared to tuck the puck underneath the bar for his 16th goal of the season. The goal light went on to signal a goal, but play continued.

At the next whistle, referees Mark Hicks and Brad Beer and linesmen Joe Celestin and Geoff Rutherford conferred and awarded Plymouth the goal. Television replays confirmed the puck was clearly in the net and Plymouth led, 3-1, after forty minutes of play.

The victory moves Plymouth into a tie for first place in the OHL West with Saginaw. Both teams have 65 points; Saginaw’s record is 32-28-1-0; Plymouth 30-25-1-4. The Spirit and Whalers are three points ahead of the third place Windsor Spitfires (28-27-3-3).

Plymouth hosts Windsor Saturday night and the Spirit host Kitchener.

Photo by Walt Dmoch.

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