Thursday, March 05, 2009

Whalers getting hot at the right time

Courtesy Plymouth Whalers

Plymouth captain Chris Terry and the Whalers are on a torrid pace as they head into the home stretch of the Ontario Hockey League’s regular season.

Playing most of February with Matt Caria and Tyler Seguin, the line clicked for 24 goals and 43 assists for 67 points over ten games in the month as the Whalers went 9-1-0-0 to move into third place in the OHL’s Western Conference playoff race.

Suddenly, a team that was out of the playoffs in November with a record of 6-11-2-0 has righted the ship in a big way. Nobody wants to face the Whalers in the playoffs.

As captain, Terry realizes the Whalers turnaround is a credit to everyone associated with the team.

"Everyone with the team - the coaches, the players and everyone who works at the rink - has been part of this turnaround," Terry said a day after the Whalers ended February with a 6-3 win in Kitchener. "We aren't done - there's still work to do. We all know that, we know what's at hand and we're going to keep going."

The Whalers first game in March – a 6-3 victory in Erie – showed how Terry’s line can dominate the game.

With Terry (a goal with four assists), Caria (2-1) and Seguin (1-2) leading the way, Plymouth built a 6-0 lead after 40 minutes. Plymouth blew the game open for good with a pair of goals 0:24 apart in the second period to take a 5-0 lead. Terry - at the lower rim of the left circle in the Erie zone - found Caria at the top of the circle. Caria's shot was stopped by Erie goaltender Jaroslav Janus, but the rebound trickled behind him and into the goal at 8:19. Seguin came right back to make it 5-0 at 8:43.

Terry was asked to describe why his line is so effective.

"When our line is going, there's not many defensive pairings that are going to stop us," he said. "There's a certain amount of grit on the line and skill with Matt and Tyler. It just took time for us to start clicking. We're going to need this over the last seven games."

The Whalers have developed into a nice blend of older players and young contributing to a winning effort.

"This is a different team than what I've played on in the past," Terry said. "Usually, it's the older guys who carry the team. But this year, we're getting contributions from everywhere - 19-year-olds and OAs (overagers) are playing their role. You've got a 17-year-old like Seguin helping out and has been unbelievable for us and Beau's (Schmitz) been rock-solid for us and has picked up his offense of late. (Goaltender Matt) Hackett has been consistent, which is what we need from him.

"Everything's going well right now. And we're going to try to keep it going."

Photo by Walt Dmoch

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