McDavid, who turns 16 on Sunday, showed why he was granted an exceptional exemption by the Ontario Hockey League as the first pick overall for the Erie Otters in last spring’s OHL Priority Selection.
McDavid staked the Otters to a 3-1 lead after one period after scoring his 19thgoal of the year and assisting on two other Erie goals.
But McDavid was trumped by the Whalers right wing Ryan Hartman, who was even better for 60 minutes of regulation and 20 seconds of overtime. Hartman scored the game-winning goal at 0:20 of the extra session for his first OHL hat trick to lead the Whalers to a come-from-behind, 4-3 victory over the Otters.
Hartman scored on the only shot of the overtime, drilling a shot from the top of the left circle high on Erie goaltender Oscar Dansk to send 3,271 at Compuware Arena home happy. The Whalers won their second straight game (and seventh win out of their last nine) to improve to 21-13-5-3, three points behind first place Sarnia.
"I got the puck and saw nobody around, so I fired it on net to make a change and it happend to pop over his shoulder," Hartman said of the game-winning goal. "It seemed like he was letting in the high ones (shots). We found a way to win."
Erie (now 14-22-3-4) also received goals from Connor Brown (24) and Jim McDowell (9).
In all, Hartman figured in on all four Plymouth goals with his trick (14-15-16) and an assist. Hartman’s forward line - including center Vince Trocheck and right wing Cody Payne – did all the scoring for the Whalers. Payne scored his 11th goal of the season to tie the game at 3-3 in the third period. Trocheck assisted on three goals tonight and has five assists in two games since joining Plymouth in a trade with Saginaw on Thursday.
"It's easy playing with a guy like Vince," Hartman said. "He was a captain in Saginaw. He has 50+ plus points (24 goals, 31 assists for 55 points in 37 games) and he has those points for a reason. He's a hard-nosed player and he knows what to do on the ice. Payne brings a little bit of grit and he's a smart player, too. He can get the puck to you and he can score goals like he did tonight."
Trailing 3-1, after one, Hartman scored the only goal of the second period on a power play at 16:30 to cut the Erie lead to 3-2, staying with the puck after he was robbed by Erie goaltender Oscar Dansk in tight, then snapping a shot high from the lower rim of the right circle.
In spite of playing with 10 forwards and five defenseman, the Whalers dominated the third period, outshooting Erie, 19-7. Payne tied the game at 3:03, rifling a shot from the right circle high on Dansk.
Payne's goal set the stage for Hartman's game-winner.
Plymouth outshot Erie in the game, 44-23.
The Whalers played without Stefan Noesen (NHL training camp with Ottawa),Rickard Rakell (NHL training camp with Anaheim) and Tom Wilson (NHL training camp with Washington), plus injured defensemen Mitch Jones, Nick Malysa and Curtis Crombeen. Sebastian Uvira - acquired from Oshawa on Thursday - is set to report to Plymouth early next week.
The Whalers are off until next Friday when they host Mississauga at 7:05 pm at Compuware Arena (Comcast 900, 88.1FM WSDP, 7 pm). Sault Ste. Marie comes in next Saturday at 7:05 pm (7 pm, Comcast 900).