Thursday, November 29, 2007

Plymouth plays three-in-three this weekend

The red-hot Plymouth Whalers are taking the Rebuilding After a Championship Season Theory and throwing it out of Compuware Arena and right onto M-14.

The Whalers – 10-1-0-1 since Oct. 26 and currently 16-7-1-1 – are challenging first place Sault Ste. Marie (19-6-1-1) and second place Windsor (17-5-1-3) for the top of the Ontario Hockey League West Division standings. The Whalers have a busy weekend ahead:

Friday – Plymouth (16-7-1-1) at Kitchener (21-3-0-1), 7:30 p.m. Kitchener Memorial Auditorium: The Whalers take on the Rangers – the top-ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League – before what is sure to be a sold-out Kitchener Memorial Auditorium. The Rangers beat Plymouth, 1-0 in overtime, on Sept. 28 in Kitchener.

WHO’S HOT FOR THE WHALERS: Goaltender Jeremy Smith (Brownstown) is the current OHL Boston Pizza Player of the Week and has posted a 1.85 goals-against average, .947 save percentage and 7-1-0-1 won-lost record with three shutouts in November. Defenseman Brett Bellemore (3-6-9, +14) returned from the disabled list at the end of October and has been a big part of the Whalers’ success this month. Chris Terry (17-28-45, +16), Andrew Fournier (20-20-40, +8) and AJ Jenks (15-5-20) lead Plymouth offensively.

WHO’S HOT FOR THE RANGERS: Kitchener's current ten-game stretch of 8-1-0-1 is the same as the Whalers. Rangers are 5-0-0-1 in their last six, the Whalers are 4-0-0-1 in their last five.

Kitchener is hosting the Memorial Cup in May of 2008 and made a bit of a statement Tuesday in hammering London, 7-1. London held the OHL's top scoring line - Kitchener's Justin Azevedo (16-37-53), Nick Spaling (23-19-42) and Matt Halischuk (12-30-42) - off the scoresheet, but it didn't matter. Scott Timmins scored twice for the Rangers and Matt Pepi, Alex Dzielski, Mike Duco, Nazem Kadri and Mikkel Boedker added singles.

Kitchener goaltender Josh Unice comes into this weekend leading the OHL with a 2.25 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage.

Saturday – Kingston (7-15-0-1) at Plymouth, 7:05 p.m., Compuware Arena. No doubt Red Wing fans will go to Joe Louis Arena to watch the Phoenix Coyotes, but fans looking to watch a Red Wing prospect should attend Saturday’s Plymouth-Kingston game.

The Frontenacs feature Red Wing draft pick Cory Emmerton (12-16-28), who has a history of playing well at Compuware Arena. He’s been named the game’s first star for Kingston in the Frontenacs’ last two games at Compuware Arena – Nov. 18, 2006 in a 5-2 win over the Whalers in which he scored two goals and an assist and Nov. 18, 2005 in a 7-5 win over the Whalers in which he also scored two goals with an assist. Emmerton was also the game’s second star on Nov. 22, 2004 in Kingston in a 4-2 victory over Plymouth. Emmerton scored a goal and an assist in that game.

In all, Emmerton has scored six goals with four assists for 10 points in six games against Plymouth in his career.

Emmerton was selected by the Red Wings in the second round (41st overall) of the 2006 National Hockey League Entry Draft.

Sunday – Plymouth at Sarnia (15-12-0-0), 6:05 p.m. The Whalers take on top NHL prospect Steven Stamkos (25-20-45), who scored the game-winning goal for the Sting against Plymouth in a 3-2 victory on Oct. 24 at Compuware Arena.

Emmerton photo by Walt Dmoch/Plymouth Whalers.

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