Kitchener 5, Plymouth 4 in Saturday Shootout

Dec 01, 2012 - 20:26 EST

Photo (Top) - Plymouth's Matt Mistele scores in the first period to send the Teddy Bears raining down Saturday night against Kitchener. Bottom - Teddy Bears hit the ice after Mistele scores. Photos by Rena Laverty.

PLYMOUTH – The National Hockey League may be locked out, but hockey is thriving in Plymouth.

Saturday night at Compuware Arena, 3,483 saw the Kitchener Rangers defeat the Plymouth Whalers, 5-4, in a shootout during the Whalers’ annual Teddy Bear Toss night.

Radek Faksa scored the lone goal in the shootout to give the Rangers (now 18-8-1-1) the victory.

Plymouth (now 14-8-3-2, 33 points) remains in first place in the Ontario Hockey League’s West Division, one point ahead of the Sarnia Sting (15-11-0-2, 32 points), who defeated Peterborough, 5-2, on Saturday night.

Tonight’s game was the best game of the season, featuring plenty of flow, skill, big hits and overall excitement.  Plymouth and Kitchener held nothing back and were tied or no more than a one-goal differential all game long.  

Ryan Hartman led the Plymouth attack with two goals (10-11) and an assist as the game’s second star.  Garrett Meurs (12) and Matt Mistele (11) scored the other Plymouth goals, with Mistele’s redirect at 11:21 of the first period sending the Teddy Bears raining out of the crowd and onto the ice surface. 

Over 1,000 Teddy Bears were collected.

Rickard Rakell contributed three assists for Plymouth and 16-year-old goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic played well for the Whalers in the loss, stopping 26-of-30 shots over 65 minutes of work.

First-star Faksa scored his seventh goal of the season in regulation for Kitchener, while Ben Thomson (4), Justin Bailey (7) and Matia Marcantuoni (4) scored the other Kitchener goals.  Rangers goaltender Franky Palazzese was the razor-thin difference in the game, stopping all three shots he faced in the shootout and 38-of-42 shots over 65 minutes.

Plymouth and Kitchener were tied at 1-1 after one period and 3-3 after forty minutes.  The Whalers' 1-0 lead after Mistele's goal lasted just 46 seconds, as Thomson scored on a breakaway, backhand and five-hole, at 12:07.

Meurs gave Plymouth a 2-1 lead in the second period, accepting Rakell's pass at the hashmarks and toe-dragging before ripping the puck home at 4:50.

Kitchener came back to take their first lead of the game at 3-2 on Bailey's goal at 13:44 (top-shelf in front after taking the puck behind the Plymouth goal) and Marcantuoni at 16:28 (re-direct off the back wall).  The Whalers came back to tie at 18:50 when Rakell set up Hartman at the left post and he made no mistake with the tap-in.  

After Faksa scored a power play goal on a scramble through traffic in front of Nedeljkovic at 6:03 of the third period, the Whalers tied the game again on Hartman’s goal at 19:09 after pulling goaltender Nedeljkovic for the extra attacker.  Rakell - at the lower rim of the left circle - fed Hartman, cross-crease at the right side of the goal and he made no mistake to tie the game at 4-4 at 19:09 of the third period.

The set the stage for Faksa's game-winner, who scored with a backhand, five-hole, on Nedleljkovic.  On the other end, Palazzese stopped Stefan Noesen, Alex Aleardi and Connor Carrick in the shootout.

Plymouth outshot Kitchener, 42-31.

Rangers at Whalers Game Highlights

ADDED COVERAGE:   Tim Smith, Plymouth Observer and Eccentric.

Josh Brown, Kitchener-Waterloo Record.

The Whalers play in Owen Sound next Wednesday (6:45 pm, 88.1FM WSDP) before returning home next Friday against Saginaw at 7:05 pm and Oshawa on Saturday at 7:05 pm at Compuware Arena.