Thursday, February 22, 2007

Whalers blank Saginaw, 4-0, Wednesday

Although the Plymouth Whalers wore their green jerseys Wednesday night in a 4-0 win in Saginaw, make no mistake, it was a blue-collar effort that led to the victory before 4,584 at the Dow Event Center.

Plymouth goaltender Jeremy Smith stopped 39 shots for his fourth shutout of the season as the game’s first star, while Evan Brophey scored twice and Chris Terry and Daniel Ryder one each to run the Whalers’ record to 41-14-1-2, good for 85 points and first place in the Ontario Hockey League’s West Division.

Plymouth is second overall in the OHL, three points behind London (42-12-1-3). Saginaw falls to 34-20-0-3, good for 71 points and second place in the OHL West. The Whalers had a 6-2-0-0 edge over Saginaw in the season series this year.

Three of the four Plymouth goals were a direct result of winning battles for pucks and keeping the play alive in the Saginaw zone.

Plymouth took a 1-0 lead at 5:26 of the first period on Brophey’s 27th goal of the season. The puck was deep in the Saginaw zone and stayed there while Plymouth started to change. Brophey – just on – took the puck from the right corner in the Saginaw zone to the high slot and wristed a shot that Saginaw goaltender Ryan Daniels appeared to be screened on. Daniels reacted late and Plymouth took a 1-0 lead in the dressing room after one period of play.

The Whalers took a 2-0 at 6:26 of the second period, capping off continual pressure in the Saginaw zone. Terry dug the puck out from the right boards and found Brett Bellemore at the right point. Bellemore (+4 on the evening and now +41 on the season) took a low shot on goal that Terry tipped in from in tight on the right wing five-hole by Daniels for his 16th season. Brophey scored his 28th of the season at 8:20 of the period when he took a shot from the slot that caromed off Saginaw defenseman Mitch Maunu (playing without a stick) and past Daniels. Plymouth led 3-0 after forty minutes.

Ryder finished the scoring with his 34th of the season (10th in 18 games with Plymouth since coming over in a trade with Peterborough) at 3:05 of the third period when he carried the puck wide right wing and beat Daniels with a well-placed shot from the right circle that caught the far post.

Plymouth’s league-leading penalty killing unit shot down all four Saginaw power plays. The Whalers continue to league the OHL in team defense, allowing a league-low 150 goals over 58 games.

Plymouth is back home the rest of the weekend, hosting Belleville on Friday and Oshawa on Saturday. Start time for both games is 7:05 p.m.

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