GUELPH – Alex Aleardi scored twice and Robbie Czarnik and Mitchell Heard once as the Plymouth Whalers built a 3-0 lead in the second period and went on to defeat the Guelph Storm, 4-2, in an Ontario Hockey League game played Friday night before 3,902 at Sleeman Centre in Guelph.
In winning, the Whalers broke a 10-game regular losing streak to Guelph dating back to Jan. 5, 2008, when Plymouth defeated Guelph, 3-1, at Compuware Arena. Plymouth improves to 10-9-1-1, while Guelph is 10-8-2-1.
Tony Saxon of the Guelph Mercury also has a story.
Taylor Beck (11th) and Francis Menard (second) scored for the Storm.
Plymouth goaltender Scott Wedgewood was sharp in goal in stopping 31-of-33 shots. Much of the Storm’s offense tonight seemed to center around shooting the puck at the side of the net and waiting for traffic in front to re-direct the shot. The Plymouth defensive allowed Wedgewood to see most of the shots and he was sharp on several of the re-directs.
Give Plymouth head coach Mike Vellucci and associate coach Joe Stefan some credit as well. Vellucci shuffled his forwards line around, inserting Czarnik on a line centering Aleardi and RJ Mahalak; Rickard Rakell centered Stefan Noesen and Garrett Meurs (a combination that worked well in exhibition season). The only line that stayed intact was Mitchell Heard centering James Livingston and Tyler Brown.
Although they didn’t receive an assist of Aleardi’s goal which opened the scoring at 1:10 of the second period, Mahalak and Czarnik did much of the early work on the goal, as Mahalak chased Czarnik’s shoot-around behind the Guelph net. The puck pinballed to Aleardi, who scored as he banked the puck off Storm goaltender Brandon Foote with a severe-angle shot from the right goal line. Czarnik and Aleradi teamed up well to finish off a two-on-one at 6:53 when Czarnik skated away from a Guelph defender at the Plymouth blue line, moved through center and deep on the right wing in the Storm zone and found Aleardi at the lower rim of the left circle. The goal is Aleardi’s 12ht of the season.
Plymouth increased the lead to 3-0 at 12:59 of the period on a two-man power play. The Whalers did a good job keeping the puck moving in the Guelph zone and Czarnik snapped a low shot, five-hole, from the left circle past Foote for his tenth goal of the year.
The Storm cut the Plymouth lead to 3-1 when Guelph’s Nashville-drafts – Michael Latta and Taylor Beck – worked on a give-and-goal in the Plymouth zone and Beck scored from the left circle. Plymouth led, 3-1, after forty minutes.
Guelph cut the Plymouth lead to 3-2 at 11:17 of the third period on a shot from the point by Import defenseman Andrey Pedan that seem to pinball twice before going over the should of Wedgewood. The marker was credited to Menard.
Still trailing 3-2, Guelph head coach Jason Brooks called a timeout with 1:38 remaining and pulled Foote for the extra attacker. But Heard foiled the strategy, chasing a loose puck at center and scoring on the empty net from the left wing in the Guelph zone.
Plymouth outshot Guelph, 36-33.
The Storm and Whalers meet Saturday night at 7:05pm at Compuware Arena (6:45pm, 88.1FM WSDP).