Sunday, March 04, 2007

Whalers clinch West Division title Sunday

Jared Boll scored a hat trick, Evan Brophey added two goals and an assist and Michal Neuvirth stopped 44 shots as the Plymouth Whalers led from start to finish in an 8-2 victory over the Mississauga IceDogs Sunday afternoon before 2,641 at the Compuware Sports Arena.

With the victory, Plymouth (45-14-1-3) wins their 11th division title in their 17-year history. The Whalers are 13 points ahead of second-place Saginaw (39-20-0-3, 81 points). If Saginaw wins their remaining six games, they’ll finish with 93 points.

Tom Sestito, Daniel Ryder and Andrew Fournier scored single goals for Plymouth. Brophey’s three points gives him 101 points on the season with 34 goals and 67 assists in 63 games. Chad LaRose is the last Whaler to score over 100 points in a season. LaRose – now with the Carolina Hurricanes – scored a franchise-record 61 goals with 56 assists for 117 points in 2002-03.

Plymouth led 4-0 after one period and 6-1 after forty minutes.

Although the Whalers scored eight goals, their defense and penalty killing played a big part in this victory. The Whalers’ league-leading penalty killing unit (87.4 percent) stopped 11 of 12 Mississauga power plays, including five straight in the first period. Neuvirth played well when called upon, lowering his goals-against average to 2.44 (second in the OHL), while raising his league-leading save percentage to .929.

Plymouth leads the OHL in team defense, allowing just 165 goals over 63 games.

The Whalers are on the road in Windsor on Thursday and Erie on Friday before returning home next Sunday at 2 p.m. to host Sault Ste. Marie.

Plymouth has home ice in the first round of the upcoming OHL playoffs and will open the playoffs on Sat. Mar. 24 at 7:05 p.m. against an opponent to be determined.

Brophey photo by Walt Dmoch

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