Friday, April 14, 2006

Neal's hatter leads Whalers over Storm

From the Canadian Press...

James Neal (pictured) had a hat trick and added an assist as the Plymouth Whalers staved off elimination for the second consecutive game with a 5-2 win over the Guelph Storm Friday night at the Compuware Sports Arena.

Guelph still leads the OHL Western Conference semifinal 3-2, with Game 6 Saturday evening in Guelph.

"We don't want hockey to end this season yet," said Neal, who now has nine goals and seven assists in 12 post-season contests. "It's a seven-game series for a reason and we're going to battle all the way until it's over."

Neal netted two power-play goals with deflections and added an even-strength marker early in the second period as the Whalers jumped to a 5-0 lead before the Storm scored twice in the last seven minutes.

"(Storm goalie Ryan MacDonald) has been standing on his head for them," said Neal of Guelph's diminutive overage goalie. "We wanted to get a bit more traffic in front of him and get a chance at some rebounds. The forwards did that and the defence did a good job getting the shots through and on net."

Andrew Fournier had a goal and an assist for Plymouth, while Evan Brophey had the other goal. Defenceman Steve Ward chipped in two assists.

Justin Peters (below) finished with 29 saves.

Matt D'Agostini and Jason Pitton replied late for the Storm. MacDonald, who made 14 saves, allowed all five goals before being replaced by rookie Jason Guy after the second period. Guy stopped all nine shots he faced in the third.

Photos by Walt Dmoch.

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