Whalers Win Fifth Straight Game, 2-1 in OT, Over Kitchener
Photo - Garrett Meurs' (white jersey) scores at 0:37 of the overtime to goive the Whalers a 2-1 win over Kitchener. Photo - Rena Laverty.
PLYMOUTH – Colorado Avalanche Director of Amateur Scouting Rick Pracey strolled into the Scouts/Media room at Compuware Arena an hour before the Plymouth Whalers hosted the Kitchener Rangers on Saturday.
"How's 'Gary' doing?" Pracey asked with a smile. "Is he shooting the puck enough?"
Pracey was referring to Plymouth right wing Garrett Meurs, who was selected by the Avalanche in the fifth round (123rd overall) in the 2011 National Hockey League Entry Draft
As it turns out, Meurs is shooting the puck well and on time.
He scored the only goals Plymouth needed Saturday night in a 2-1 overtime victory over the Kitchener Rangers, including the game-winner at 0:37 into overtime.
The goal snapped a 1-1 tie and Whalers won their fifth straight game.
Plymouth improves to 7-3-2-1 - good for 17 points - and moves into a first-place tie in the OHL’s West Division with the Windsor Spitfires (7-5-0-3). Kitchener is now 7-4-1-1.
Meurs stole the puck from a Kitchener player in the Plymouth zone, skated hard down the left wing through neutral territory and into the Kitchener zone, then cut across to the right in front of Rangers goaltender Frankie Palazzese and stuffed a forehand inside the right post for the game-winning goal.
"Hartzy won the draw and it went to their guy and I picked it up," Meurs said of the game-winning goal. "I was just going wide. I knew I had to do something, so I took it to the net as hard as I could."
Meurs has eight goals on the season. Ben Thomson scored the lone goal for Kitchener, his second of the year.
Plymouth goaltender Matt Mahalak stopped 27-of-28 Kitchener shots and has allowed nine goals over the Whalers five-game winning streak. Franky Palazzese stopped 30-of-32 shots for Kitchener.
Plymouth and Kitchener played a fast-paced and evenly played game the whole way. Thomson scored on Kitchener's first shot of the game at 4:39 of the first period, accepting Matia Marcantuoni's pass, skating to the left dot in the Plymouth zone and beating Mahalak with the shot. Mahalak got a piece of the puck, but it trickled over the goal line.
The Whalers replied on the power play at 11:33 of the period when Stefan Noesen found Meurs on the left wing lip of the crease and Meurs made no mistake.
The first period ended at 1-1.
Kitchener's Justin Bailey scored at 5:57 of the second period, batting home a puck at the right side of the Plymouth goal. But after a lengthy video review, referees Bob Langdon and Joe Monette ruled that Bailey put the puck into the goal with his stick abover the cross-bar.
The game stayed 1-1 until Meurs' game-winner.
After missing the playoffs with an upper body injury last season, Meurs is playing with enthusiasm.
"Meurs is so quick and he's always getting chances," said linemate Hartman. "He's always getting shots."
As it turned out, Meurs' last shot won tonight for Plymouth, who outshot Kitchener, 32-28.
Plymouth and Kitchener meet again Sunday night in Kitchener (6:50pm, www.plymouthwhalers.com).