Excellent March Powers Whalers to OHL WC Semi-Finals
After a day off on Thursday, the Whalers skated again at practice Friday.
Plymouth doesn’t know who they’re going to be playing in the Ontario Hockey League semi-finals yet and may not know until next Tuesday evening. The Whalers have home ice in the Western Conference semi-finals in a 2-2-1-1-1 format.
#3 Owen Sound and #6 Sault Ste. Marie are tied at two-games-each, with Game 5 going tonight in Owen Sound. #4 Kitchener has a three-games-to-one lead over #5 Guelph, with Game 5 happening tonight in Kitchener.
#1 London eliminated #8 Saginaw on Thursday, so the Knights will play the lowest remaining seed in the second round.
BREAKING NEWS - Game 1 of the next series will be played on Friday, April 5 at 7:05 pm at Compuware Arena. Game 2 will be played on Sunday, April 7 at 4 pm at Compuware Arena.
We'll have more details when they become available. Call (734) 453-8400 for tickets or go online to www.plymouthwhalers.com.
While the Whalers’ next opponent for the next round isn’t known yet, this year’s team has accomplished something that only one other Plymouth team has done.
This season, the Whalers became the first Plymouth team to win every game in a calendar month since the 1999-00 Whalers ran the table in Feb. of 2000 leading to a 17-game winning streak.
This year, the Whalers went 11-0 in March, starting with a 7-2 win in Erie on Mar. 1 and ending with Wednesday’s 5-2 elimination of Sarnia at RBC Centre.
Plymouth’s current 12-game winning streak is the team’s second 12-game winning streak in 23 years. The 1994-95 Jr. Wings also won 12 in a row from Jan. 2-Feb. 3, 1995 en route to the OHL Championship.
The 1999-00 Whalers’ 17-game winning streak is still the longest in franchise history.
Obviously, a lot of good things happened for Plymouth in March.
Many fans will point to Vince Trocheck and he led the Whalers in March with 12 goals and 16 assists for 28 points and was +17 in 11 games. But Trocheck had a lot of help. Mitchell Heard (17 points), Stefan Noesen (17), Garrett Meurs (16), Tom Wilson (11) Connor Carrick (11), Matt Mistele (9) and Rickard Rakell (6) all averaged at least one point per game. And Sebastian Uvira just missed averaging a point per game with 9 over 11 games.
The Whalers scored 63 goals in March, but only allowed 19, so there were plenty of good things happening in the other end of the ice.
Sarnia head coach Jacques Beaulieu saw the Whalers first-hand in the playoffs.
“Their depth (made the difference),” Beaulieu told the Sarnia Observer after Game 4. “They had three full lines who could play with anybody. (Colin) MacDonald and (Austin) Levi on defense shut our guys down. They never gave our guys a sniff around the net and around the blueline.”
Although Carrick handed out 11 assists in March, he was also +19. Gianluca Curcuruto (+20), Nick Malysa (+18), Alex Peters (+10), Levi (+6), MacDonald (+2 in limited playing time in March before the post-season) and Mitch Jones (+3) all contributed to a winning effort.
In goal, Plymouth head coach Mike Vellucci and associate coach Joe Stefan deal with a pleasant problem. Matt Mahalak posted consecutive shutout in his final two appearances during the regular season and Alex Nedeljkovic was solid in the Sarnia series, allowing two goals per game while stopping 97-of-105 shots for a .924 save percentage.
All of this could point towards a fun spring around Compuware Arena. Stay tuned.
NEXT UP, BESIDES THE OHL WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMI-FINALS: The Ontario Hockey League Draft, known formally as the Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection, happens on Saturday, April 6 starting at 9 am. The draft will be held around OHL cities online and can be followed on www.ontariohockeyleague.com.
Check back here at www.plymouthwhalers.com for details about the Plymouth selections.