Whalers Even Series With 2-0 Win in Kitchener

Apr 09, 2012 - 07:46 EDT

KITCHENER - Goaltender Scott Wedgewood stopped 26 shots and Matt Mistele and Andy Bathgate scored third period goals as the Plymouth Whalers defeated the Kitchener Rangers, 2-0, on Sunday before 5,486 at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium.

Plymouth evens the best four-of-seven Ontario Hockey League Western Conference semifinal series with Kitchener at one game each.  Game 3 is Tuesday at 7:05 pm at Compuware Arena; Game 4 is Wednesday in Kitchener (7:05 pm); Game 5 will be played Saturday at 7:05 pm at Compuware Arena. 

The first two games of the series have been hard copies of each other.  Kitchener beat Plymouth, 2-0, last Friday at Compuware Arena on a shutout by Rangers goaltender John Gibson; the Whalers responded tonight with an excellent all-around effort as Wedgewood recorded his first OHL playoff shutout in 25 games.

The series has turned into a battle of two good goaltenders. Wedgewood and Gibson are both second in the OHL playoffs with 1.99 goals against average.  Gibson leads the OHL playoffs with a 0.953 save percentage; Wedgewood is second with a 0.937 save percentage.

In outshooting Kitchener, 45-26, the Whalers had a territorial advantage throughout the game, using a good forecheck to keep the play alive in the Kitchener zone.  In addition, Plymouth’s penalty killing went five-for-five tonight and is nine-for-nine over the first two games of the series.

After a scoreless forty minutes, the Whalers broke the game open with a pair of goals 1:06 apart in the third period.  Mitchell Heard set up the first Plymouth goal, scored at 3:24 of the period, skating hard right wing into the Kitchener zone and feeding the puck to the slot.  Mistele – the youngest player on the Whalers roster – followed up the play, accepted the pass in the slot and scored from the left hashmark.

Audio - Listen to the Mistele goal (and hear the Plymouth fans cheering).

Plymouth came right back at 4:30 to take a 2-0 lead.  Cody Payne – following a Gibson rebound from a J.T. Miller shot from the left wing that caromed behind the Kitchener goal – found Bathgate working in front, who made no mistake with the shot.

Audio - Listen to the Bathgate goal.

The Plymouth defenders and Wedgewood went to work after that and continued to play well over the entire sixty minutes. Kitchener head coach Steve Spott pulled Gibson a couple of times in the final minute for the extra attacker, but it wasn't enough tonight.

Tonight’s game may have not been as exciting in some ways as the Whalers’ 9-3 win over Guelph in Game 5 at Compuware Arena on March 31, but make no mistake – everyone who wore a Whalers jersey tonight contributed to a well-earned victory on the road to even the series.

Matt Hackett pitched the last Plymouth shutout in the playoffs in a 5-0 victory in Sarnia on March 26, 2009.

More coverage - Josh Brown, Kitchener-Waterloo RecordNeate Sager, Yahoo! Sports Junior Hockey.

Here's the rest of the series:

Game 3 - Tuesday, April 10 - Kitchener at Plymouth, 7:05 pm, Compuware Arena (6:45 pm, 88.1FM WSDP).

Game 4 – Wednesday, April 11 - Plymouth at Kitchener, 7:05 pm, Memorial Auditorium (6:45 pm, 88.1FM WSDP).

Game 5 - Saturday, April 14 - Kitchener at Plymouth, 7:05 pm, Compuware Arena (6:45 pm, 88.1FM WSDP).

(*) Game 6 - Sunday, April 15 - Plymouth at Kitchener, 7:05 pm, Memorial Auditorium.

(*) Game 7 - Tuesday, April 17 - Kitchener at Plymouth, 7:05 pm, Compuware Arena.

(*) if necessary