Whalers' Four Goal Outburst in Third Period Beats Saginaw, 6-4
First star Alex Aleardi (white, center) in motion against Saginaw on Tuesday morning. Photo by Jospeh Tobianski, Saginaw News.
SAGINAW - On Education Day in Saginaw, the Plymouth Whalers had a lesson in winning ways reinforced:
Win the third period, win the game.
Plymouth exploded for four unanswered goals in the third period to overcome a 4-2 Saginaw lead, and the Whalers went on to defeat the Saginaw Spirit, 6-4, before 5,376 at Saginaw's annual Education Day Special at the Dow Event Center.
Plymouth improves to 40-17-2-1, good for 83 points. The Whalers remain in first place in the Ontario Hockey League West Division and second place in the Western Conference race. Plymouth is now 19-2-2-1 within the West Division. The Whalers swept the eight-game series this season with Saginaw and is now 56-22 against the Spirit since the North Bay Centennials moved to Saginaw in 2002.
Saginaw is 27-25-1-7 and in sixth place in the Western Conference race.
First star Alex Aleardi paced the Plymouth attack with two goals (30-31) and an assist - all in the decisive third period. The Whalers also received single goals from Stefan Noesen (31), J.T. Miller (23), Chris Albertini (3) and Michael Whaley (3). Defensmen Austin Levi added two assists and was +4. Captain Beau Schmitz was also +4 with an assist. Plymouth goaltender Scott Wedgewood stopped 29-of-33 shots to raise his record to 22-9-2-1.
Steven Strong (5), David Perklin (first OHL goal), Vince Trocheck (26) and Garret Ross (23) scored for Saginaw.
Referees Scott Hoberg and Bob Langdon called no minor penalties in the game, but there were two fights in the first period - Plymouth's Chris Albertini and Saginaw's Grant Webermin at 3:22 and the Whalers' Nick Malysa and Saginaw's Terry Trafford at 5:55.
Children on a field trip from the various schools in Saginaw started arriving 80 minutes before the puck was dropped and they saw the Spirit have a territorial advantage through the first nine minutes in outshooting Plymouth, 11-3.
But the Whalers scored first as Noesen let a shot go from the left point at 6:59 that seemed to handcuff Saginaw goaltender Clint Windsor for his 31st goal of the year and 10th against Saginaw in eight games.
Audio: Listen to the Noesen goal.
Saginaw tied the game at 1-1 on Strong's goal from the right point at 8:48 that capped good Saginaw pressure in the Plymouth zone.
The game stayed tied at 1-1 until 14:36 of the second period when the Spirit got a lift from the line of Nick Moutrey, David Perklin and Jimmy Lodge to take a 2-1 lead. Perklin scored from the left circle for his first OHL in 48 games.
But Plymouth came back immediately to tie the game at 2-2 on Miller's goal at 16:11 of the period. The play started out of the Plymouth zone by Levi, who found Whaley at center and he clicked with Miller on the left wing in the Saginaw zone. Miller ripped the shot from the left circle.
Audio: Listen to the Miller goal.
Saginaw regained the lead at 18:34 of the period on Trocheck's team-leading fourth goal against Plymouth and 26th of the year with a shot from the left circle that Wedgewood got most of, but the puck trickled over the goal line. Saginaw led, 3-2, after forty minutes.
The Spirit seemed to take a commanding 4-2 lead at 2:49 of the third period on Ross' 23rd of the year. Skating from the right circle in the Plymouth zone to the hashmarks, Ross waited and then scored with a hard shot.
Trailing 4-2, Plymouth started to come back midway through the period. Schmitz led the rush into the Saginaw zone on the right wing and let a hard shot go from the right faceoff circle. Windsor made the save, but allowed a rebound and Albertini tapped home the rebound to cut the Saginaw lead to 4-3.
Audio: Listen to the Albertini goal.
Albertini has scored three goals this year, two against Saginaw and one against Windsor. All three goals have been scored on the road.
Then Aleardi got going, using his speed and tenacity to tie the game at 4-4 at 12:20. Taking Levi's pass in neutral territory, Aleardi split the Saginaw defense by a half-stride and stuffed the puck, forehand, on the right side of the Saginaw goal under the bar.
Audio: Listen to the Aleardi equalizer.
Less than two minutes later, Aleardi teammed up with Whaley to give Plymouth a 5-4 lead at 16:01. Aleardi followed up his own shot behind the Saginaw goal and found Whaley in front, who was all alone and made no mistake with a quick-one timer.
Audio: Listen to the Whaley game-winner.
Trailing, 5-4 in the final minute of regulation, Saginaw head coach Greg Gilbert pulled Windsor for the etxra attacker, but Aleardi iced the game for Plymouth, scoring on the empty net at 19:42.
In spite of being outshot early in the game, the Whalers outshot Saginaw, 37-33, in the game.
MORE CONTENT: Kyle Austin, Saginaw News.
Plymouth comes home for a pair of games this weekend, hosting Brampton on Friday and Windsor on Saturday. Both games start at 7:05pm at Compuware Arena.
The Whalers cap off a busy weekend on Sunday in Sarnia against the Sting.