Whalers' Nedeljkovic Solid in Debut; Whalers Lose, 3-2, in OT
BELLEVILLE - After losses to London and Saginaw, the Whalers were looking to change things up Saturday night in Belleville against the Bulls at Yardmen Arena.
Plymouth head coach Mike Vellucci decided to give rookie goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic the start against the lowest scoring team in the league. Nedeljkovic played well in stopping 25-of-28 shots in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Bulls.
Jake Cardwell's goal at 2:33 of overtime spoiled an otherwise splendid debut for Nedeljkovic, who matched Belleville goaltender Malcolm Subban save-for-save until the very end.
In spite of the overtime loss, the Whalers (now 10-7-3-1, 24 points) picked up a point on first place Sarnia (12-8-0-2). The Sting play in Sault Ste. Marie on Sunday.
"The speed of the game is faster," said Nedeljkovic after the game with a slight smile. "I would have liked to have won. But it was good."
Plymouth rallied around their young goaltender and got back to some basics in outshooting Belleville in the first period, 10-6, while carrying the play. Nedeljkovic made his best saves in the period in the final minute on Scott Simmonds' shot from the slot and Carter Sandlak's put-back of the rebound.
Alex Aleardi gave the Whalers a 1-0 lead at 6:04 of the second period, snapping a low shot from the left circle that beat Subban, five-hole. Belleville captain Brendan Gaunce scored on a re-direct at 11:15 of the period on a shot that Nedeljkovic seemed to get a piece of, but the puck trickled over the goal line.
Jordan Subban gave Belleville their first lead of the game at 13:24 of the third period, tucking the puck under the cross bar from the right circle. Aleardi - playing an inspired game against his former team - replied 1:05 later, skating to the right circle in the Belleville zone, toe-dragging and then scoring his ninth goal of the year.
That set the stage for Cardwell's game-winner.
Plymouth outshot Belleville, 32-28.
Plymouth remains on the road Sunday afternoon in Ottawa at 2pm (1:50pm, www.plymouthwhalers.com).