Thursday, December 31, 2009

Heard, Myers provide spark for Whalers

Good teams have a way of finding energy to continue to be successful, whether it’s a big hit, effective forecheck, big save, or a goal at the right time.

Like that first cup of coffee in the morning, a jolt of energy can go a long way to a successful day.

Although the Plymouth Whalers don’t have the injury problems of the Detroit Red Wings, the truth is Plymouth hasn’t played with a fully healthy lineup all season long. Facing a stretch of games where AJ Jenks, Michal Jordan and Garrett Meurs were all missing time due to the World Junior Championship and World Under-17 Challenge – and with RJ Mahalak and JR Marsden rehabbing injuries – Plymouth coach-GM Mike Vellucci and associate coach Joe Stefan decided to find some energy.

They decided to bring up Mitchell Heard (pictured above) and Sean Myers (pictured left).

Both players made Plymouth out of training camp, but were sent back down during the season – Heard to the Bowmanville Eagles and Myers to Chatham of the Greater Ontario Hockey League.

Like that good first cup of coffee in the morning, Heard and Myers brought some energy – and more – back to the Whalers.

Recalled before Plymouth’s game on December 18 in Oshawa, Heard scored a goal early in the game and was a factor in the Whalers’ 2-1 win over the Generals. Heard played the game in front of 400 people from his hometown of Bowmanville, not far from Oshawa.

When Heard scored to give the Whalers a 1-0 lead in the first period, he jumped into the glass, right in front of his sister and the cheering group from Bowmanville. Later, the Rogers television crew interviewed Heard after the game as the hometown hero.

Heard will be back in the lineup for Plymouth in Kitchener on January 1.

"I love to bring energy to the rink any time I can," Heard said before the Oshawa game. "I want to get the odd goal and work hard, do what the coaches say and go from there."

Myers had a smile on his face as he strolled into the Whalers’ locker room Tuesday in Sarnia. He was given a warm welcome by his teammates – even though he was just playing in Sarnia and then go back to Chatham.

“It’s great to be back,” Myers said on Tuesday. “It feels like I belong here. You never know, you just work hard and see how it goes.”

Sure enough, Myers figured in on the first Whalers goal, digging the puck from behind the Sarnia net and jamming it towards the goal. The puck caromed to Stefan Noesen, who drilled it into the net from just outside the blue crease to give the Whalers a 1-0 lead.

Plymouth went on the defeat Sarnia, 5-2.

Although Heard and Myers may be back in Bowmanville and Chatham in the short-term, they fit in the long-range plan of the Whalers.

“Both are good young talents and they have a future with the club down the road,” said Stefan. “With our injuries and a few of the guys going away to the various junior tournaments over Christmas, we needed some bodies. They’ve come in and have provided some spark and helped us out with some offense.”

Stefan wasn’t totally surprised by Heard’s and Myers’ contributions.

“Both players can contribute that way,” he said. “They have good offensive skills and fit in real well in terms of chemistry. They are a good fit for our team and hopefully we’ll see them a few more games during the rest of the year.”

Myers currently has six goals and 12 assists for 18 points in 17 games for Chatham. Heard – who often plays on a line with another Whaler rookie, Peter Neal - has five goals with two assists for seven points and is +5 in six games in Bowmanville.

Perhaps just as important, Myers and Heard come to the rink with a smile of their face. They love playing the game and look to make Plymouth a more permanent stop.

“They’re both great kids,” Stefan said. When they were here at the start of the year, they fit in real well with the guys. We were all sad to see them go back, but I think they both know they have a future with us. I think they both have a chance to be offensive providers for us in the years to come.”

Courtesy Plymouth Whalers

Photos courtesy Walt Dmoch

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