Connor Carrick’s goal at 2:29 of overtime broke a 2-2 tie and the Plymouth Whalers defeated the Guelph Storm, 3-2, in an Ontario Hockey League League game played Saturday night before 2,761 at Compuware Arena.
Carrick – a Washington Capitals draft – was set up by Washington first rounder Tom Wilson in the high slot. With Danny Vanderwiel providing an effective screen in front of Guelph goaltender Keegan Wilson, Carrick snapped the puck home for his seventh goal of the season.
"The puck went down in the corner and Willy (Tom Wilson) battled it up," Carrick said of his game-winning goal. "I thought I was open at the blue line. He (Wilson) went through the guy's stick and made a nice pass. I was just trying to get (the puck) on net. Vandy (Danny Vanderwiel) did a great job in front screening. That's the reason it went in."
Plymouth has won four games in a row and improve to 19-12-5-3, good for 46 points and three points behind the Sarnia Sting (23-13-0-3, 49 points). Guelph is 21-12-1-4.
Mitchell Heard (first of the season) and Garrett Meurs (18) also scored for Plymouth, who rallied from a 2-0 Guelph lead in the first period. Wilson provided a strong physical game and recorded two assists. The Whalers outshot Guelph, 29-27.
Justin Auger (13) and Patrick Watling (5) scored for Guelph.
The forecheck set up the Guelph lead in the first period. Auger kept the play going deep in the Plymouth zone and batted home his own rebound at the lower rim of the right at 13:53 after Plymouth goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic made the first stop. Then Watling scored on a rebound from the left circle to the Storm a 2-0 lead at 15:28.
But Plymouth cut the Guelph lead to 2-1 on Heard's goal from the left circle, started in the Guelph zone up by a heavy hit by Wilson along the right boards. Simon Karlsson found Heard, who made no mistake at 16:29.
Both teams spent time on the forecheck in the second period. Meurs tied the game at 2-2 at 12:10 of the period on a Plymouth power play, batting home a loose puck on the left of the Guelph goal. Wilson and Alex Aleardi drew assists.
The third period was scoreless and evenly played with the shots even at nine apiece.
Carrick sent the crowd home happy at 2:29 of overtime.
Not to be overlooked, but Nedeljkovic (all of 16-years-old) has been part of the Whalers' last four victories and played well again tonight in stopping 25-of-27 shots. Nedeljkovic improved to 6-1-0-1, lowering his goals against average to 2.41 while raising his save percentage to 0.919.
Plymouth has won four in a row and five of six with short numbers with Rickard Rakell and Ryan Hartman playing at the World Junior Championships, Stefan Noesen suspended, and Curtis Crombeen and Zach Bratina hurt along the way. Tonight, defenseman Mitch Jones was injured in a collison along the end wall and did not return.
Still, the Whalers have found a way to win.
The Whalers are off until next Wednesday when they play in Saginaw against the Spirit (7 pm, 88.1FM WSDP). Plymouth is home next weekend, hosting Brampton on Friday and Erie on Saturday at Compuware Arena. Both games start at 7:05 pm.