Thursday, March 27, 2008

Whalers eliminated by Rangers in four

Last season, the Plymouth Whalers won the Ontario Hockey League championship playing the opposition any way they wanted to play. This season, the Kitchener Rangers used the same formula in eliminating Plymouth from the OHL playoffs in four games.

Led by Justin Azevedo’s four assists, the Rangers led from start to finish in a 7-4 victory over Plymouth in Game 4 of the best-of-seven OHL Western Conference quarterfinal series. The Rangers led most of the series in winning all four games.

Although he scored only one goal in the series, Azevedo racked up 13 assists and leads the OHL playoffs in scoring with 14 points in four games. Azevedo also led the OHL in scoring during the regular season with 43 goals and 81 assists for 124 points in 67 games. Utilizing a balanced scoring attack, Kitchener received single goals in the game from Mikkel Boedker (second of the playoffs), Scott Timmins (1), Matt Halischuk (team-leading sixth), Nick Spaling (4), Ben Shutron (2), Mike Duco (3) and Scott Tregunna (1).

Plymouth received goals from Jordon O’Neill and Tyler J. Brown (both with their first-ever OHL playoff goals), captain Andrew Fournier (1) and Patrick Lee (3). Plymouth was behind the entire game, cutting into Kitchener leads of 2-0, 3-1, 4-2 and 5-3, but couldn’t find the equalizer.

Kitchener built a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Boekder (one-timer from the right circle at 1:57) and Timmins (wrap around right wing side at 3:00). The Whalers cut the Kitchener lead to 2-1 on O’Neill’s snap shot from the slot at 12:55.

The Rangers led, 2-1, after one period.

Rangers took a 3-1 lead on Halishuck’s penalty shot goal at 8:19, but Lee scored for Plymouth on a deflection of a Chris Terry point shot at 13:17. Kitchener took a 4-2 lead on Spaling’s shot of a rebound from the right crease area at 15:40.

Kitchener led, 4-2, after forty minutes.

Plymouth battled back, cutting the Kitchener lead to 4-3 12 seconds into the third period when Brown scored from the left circle after Kitchener goaltender Josh Unice made a save on Brett Bellemore’s shot from the right point. Kitchener came right back 36 seconds later on Shutron’s shot from the left point to regain a 5-3 lead. The Whalers cut into the Kitchener lead again at 5-4 at 8:45 when Fournier scored on a scramble at the right wing side of the Kitchener goal. But Duco (15:09) and Tregunna (15:47) scored for the Rangers and they pulled away to win.

Kitchener outshot Plymouth, 55-36.

Jeremy Smith made 48 saves for Plymouth, while Unice finished with 32 for the Rangers.

PHOTO: Plymouth's Patrick Lee scores in the second period Wednesday night at Compuware Arena. Photo by Walt Dmoch.

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