Late Goal Stuns Plymouth, 5-4, in Guelph
Photo - Plymouth goaltender Matt Mahalak makes one of his 25 saves Friday night in Guelph with Storm forwards Zack Mitchell (top) and Scott Kosmachuk looking for a rebound. Photo - Tony Saxon, Guelph Mercury.
GULEPH - Justin Auger's third goal of the game with 4.4 seconds left in regulation snapped a 4-4 tie and the Guelph Storm defeated the Plymouth Whalers, 5-4, before 3,104 at Sleeman Centre on Friday night in Guelph.
Guelph improves to 4-2-0-0. Plymouth is now 1-1-1-1.
On the game-winning goal, Ryan Horvat stole the puck along the right boards in the Plymouth zone and found 6-foot-7 inch Augur, who skated on the right wing to the Plymouth goal line, cut to his left, faked a forehand and stuffed a backhand by Plymouth goaltender Matt Mahalak.
The hat trick is Auger's first in his OHL career. He scored seven goals and seven assists last season in his rookie season with Guelph. Jason Dickinson (fourth) and Andrey Pedan (second) scored the other Guelph goal.
Gianluca Curcuruto (first), Cody Payne (third), Stefan Noesen (third) and Rickard Rakell (third) scored single goals for the Whalers, while Tom Wilson and Connor Carrick added two assists each.
Plymouth won the special teams game, going 2-for-5 on the power play and killing off all seven Guelph power plays. And the Whalers led, 2-1, after forty minutes. But Plymouth was guilty of turnovers in their defensive zone in the decisive third period and Guelph took advantage.
Curcuruto gave the Whalers an early 1-0 lead on a power play at 1:30 of the first period, taking Carrick's pass in the high slot and wirsting a quick shot through a Plymouth screen past Storm goaltender Garret Sparks. After Auger tied the game at 1-1 at 9:57, the Whalers appeared to take a 2-1 lead at 15:43 when Payne scored on a rebound outside the Guelph blue crease. But referees Dave Koziel and Korey Bannerman ruled that Payne directed the puck into the goal with a high stick.
The ruling stood for all of 24 seconds when Payne scored with a hard shot from the right circle at 16:07 to give the Whalers a 2-1 lead.
The second period was scoreless. Pedan was given a four-minute penalty for high-sticking Noesen at 18:44 of the second period and the Whalers cashed in the powerplay when Noesen scored on a quick one-timer, five-hole at 2:22 of the third period to give Plymouth a 3-1 lead.
The Storm came back with three goals to take their first lead of the game on markers by Dickinson at 3:51 (individual rush, skating right wing to left to stuff the shot past Mahalak), Pedan at 6:56 (pinballed a shot from the right point that was nowhere near the net but caromed off traffic) and Auger at 7:29 (Patrick Watling intercepts a pass in the Plymouth zone and found Auger in the slot).
Rakell re-tied the game at 4-4 at 11:14, accepting Wilson's cross-crease pass at the right goal line and scoring from the lower rim of the left circle.
That set the stage for Auger's game-winner.
Plymouth outshot Guelph, 33-30.
The Whalers host Niagara on Saturday at 7:05 pm at Compuware Arena (6:45 pm, 88.1FM The Park and www.plymouthwhalers.com)
MORE COVERAGE: Tony Saxon, Guelph Mercury.