February 05, 2006

Harpooned by the Whalers: 4 – 2

This was Plymouth’s third game in three days a long way from home. They won in Kingston on Friday and lost to Belleville last night. I didn’t catch all the scratches but they were without their second scorer, Evan Brophy and they had only one goalie, Justin Peters, dressed. John Vigilante is their top scorer with 70 points coming into the game – good for 12th overall in the league. They were the second most penalized team in the league but also had developed a decent coping strategy in that they were 10th in the league for penalty kills on the road; 3rd overall when PKs at home were factored in (second in the league for killing penalties at home).

Ottawa was coming off a well-played game although it was a disappointing loss, had a day’s rest, and welcomed Julian Talbot back from his 5 game suspension. Brent Mackie, Joe Pleckaitis and Pat Daley sat out the game. Brady Morrison made his home start debut.

First Period: Ottawa sure didn’t look like a team that had a rest and Plymouth sure didn’t look like a team that was suffering from bus legs. I’m not going to go through all the penalties. In the first period, each team was tagged 4 times. Ottawa started when Liscomb was spotted hooking just 23 seconds into the frame. I believe that was the only time either of the teams managed to have a full two minutes to themselves. Ottawa was simply outplayed the entire period; the first five minutes alone was entirely played in the Ottawa zone. Plymouth scored first on a short-handed goal at 10:26 when John Armstrong squeezed one past Brady on the backhand as he skated in front of the net. Big Derek Melini assisted on the goal. Four minutes later, John Vigilante made two nothing when he was allowed to walk right in, pick up the rebound and get it past Brady on the stick-side.

At the end of the first period, Plymouth led 2 – 0 with shots on goal 5 – 7 in Plymouth’s favour.

Second Period: It was Plymouth’s turn to start the penalty parade first, just 31 seconds in, when Derek Melini was called for cross checking. About halfway through the man advantage, Derek Joslin was skating along the inside of the blue line, took a pass fired the puck at the net going against the flow and got it past Justin Peters to get Ottawa within one. Joe Grimaldi and Julian Talbot got assists. A couple of minutes later, Grimaldi was sent off for taking a stupid hooking penalty that broke up a good scoring opportunity. Ottawa was doing a good job of killing the penalty when a pass from Justin Peters caught Ottawa on a bad line change. Jared Boll got it to John Armstrong who scored his second of the afternoon just as the penalty was expiring to put the Whalers back up 2. Ottawa then got into a world of penalty trouble. I didn’t see who Ondrej Otcenas hit into the boards but Joe Grimaldi didn’t like it one bit. He tried to get Ondrej's attention with a few taps on the back with his stick and then more folks got into the act. In the end, Joe and Ondrej traded minors (roughing for Joe, boarding for Ondrej) while Vigilante earned an extra roughing play for Plymouth. The Ottawa man advantage lasted for about a minute and a half when Julian Talbot was called for hooking. Then with about 30 seconds left in that penalty, Jakob Voyta was called for hooking. Just 12 seconds after the Talbot penalty was over, Grimaldi was sent of again, this time for slashing. Ottawa managed to kill both 2-man advantages. Somewhere near the end of all this penalty stupidity, something odd happened behind the Plymouth net. Gino Pisellini was called hooking and on the same play Elgin Reid was called for diving. Can a player be both hooked and dive? Either that, or for some brief moment, the one referee was able not only to see one infraction but two by entirely separate players! Elgin was pretty incensed by the call and everyone could tell, including the ref who assessed him an extra 10-minute time out.

The period ended with Plymouth still ahead – 3 – 1 with shots on goal 17 – 21 for Plymouth.

Third Period: Ottawa tried to put a bit more effort into it but the posts and cross-bar were not with the program. There were a couple times I was sure it went in! Brady did not have the game he was hoping for. In the second period, Plymouth put a long shot on net which Brady easily stopped. He was then moving the puck slowly back and forth waiting from a sign from above as to what to do with it when a Plymouth player skated in and almost took it off his stick for him. In the third period, Brady came out to the face-off circle to pick up the puck that was cleared by Plymouth. Guess he was hoping to pull the same play as Justin did earlier. Instead, he misplayed the puck and it rolled along the ice to the empty net! Fortunately it didn’t get in but Brady did get out – at about the 7-minute mark. Plymouth solidified their lead just over halfway through when John Armstrong made it a hat trick by picking up his own rebound and got it past Danny. Shea Kewin must have been taking notes because four minutes later, during Ottawa’s 10th power play of the afternoon, he picked up his own rebound and got it past Justin. Defensemen Elgin Reid and Derek Joslin got the assists. And that’s as far as they got when the buzzer finally sounded.

Final score: 4 – 2 with shots on goal 29 – 30 – both numbers in Plymouth’s favour.

Thoughts: No excuses for the 67s here. They should have been pumped from a good game on Friday and well rested to take on Plymouth coming in for the third road game off a loss in Belleville. Ottawa could not seem to get anything going. Kilrea changed the lines again – Liscomb played with Hulit and Talbot, the Crazy-8s were together and Pleckaitis, Lawrance and Alphonso played together a lot. The fourth line saw limited ice. It was like the boys couldn’t figure out where each other were or was going to be. I lost count of the number of centering passes to no one. And don’t even get me started on the missed passes – especially those that resulted in icing calls.

The Whalers are big and they used their size well. They also passed better, worked harder, checked better and skated faster.

A lot of whistles in the game: 26 penalties called (14 against Ottawa) with both teams going 2/10 on the power plays. Many of the man-advantages were short-lived as someone else from the PP team would get called for something or the other.

I’m sure Kilrea is at a loss as how to get these guys to play good games back to back. Barring some complete miracle by Mississauga, Ottawa will stumble into the playoffs, but it sure looks like they will go in in 8th spot which is not good. Let’s keep hoping that they will start some seriously consistent playing that will move them up the ranks.

Three Stars of the Game:

First Star: John Armstrong (Plymouth – hat trick for his 8th, 9th and 10th goals of the season)
Second Star: Justin Peters (Plymouth – not sure why the boys picked him – most of his saves were easy)
Third Star: Derek Joslin (goal and an assist)

Hardest Working 67: Didn’t catch it.


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