14 Sep 2014
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Whalers' Brilliant Comeback Ends in Overtime Elimination

Plymouth rebounds from a 4-0 deficit only to lose.

Whalers' Brilliant Comeback Ends in Overtime Elimination

LONDON, ON. - Max Domi's second goal of the game at 0:20 of overtime gave the London Knights a 5-4 victory and eliminated the Plymouth Whalers from the Ontario Hockey League's Rogers Western Conference Championship Series.

The customary sellout of 9,046 watched the game Friday at Budwesier Gardens.

London takes the series, four-games-to-one, wins the Wayne Gretzky Trophy and advances to the OHL's Rogers Championship Series against the winner of the Barrie-Belleville Eastern Conference Final.

But make no mistake, the series was far closer than a four-games-to-one final result would indicate.

Trailing, 4-0 in the second period, Plymouth came all the way back to tie the game at 4-4 only to lose in heartbreaking fashion just as the sellout crowd at Budweiser Gardens of 9,046 got settled in to watch the overtime.

VIDEO - See the highlights.

Domi led the London attack as the game's first star, figuring in on all five London goals with two goals (9-10) and three assists.  Alex Broadhurst scored twice for London (8-9) and Bo Horvat scored the other goal, his ninth of the playoffs.

Ryan Hartman (fourth), Garrett Meurs (seventh), Connor Carrick (third) and Gianluca Curcuruto (second) scored for Plymouth, with Curcuruto's goal the equalizer at 15:27 of the third period.

Plymouth head coach Mike Vellucci's words in the post-game press conference came from the heart.

"We came back to tie the game and had them on their heels," Vellucci said.  "We came out a little tentative in the overtime and didn't get it done in the end.  But over the last two games, London's power play was clicking pretty good, going two-for-five tonight and three-for-four the last game.  We went 0-for-2 and two-for-three, so their power play was the difference."

Vellucci was asked if he had any instructions for the Whalers going into overtime.

"Go out and win," he said with a smile.  "We wanted to go out and win the game.  We fought hard to get back to 4-4 and unfortunately, we did it a lot in the series, being down 4-0 in one game and 4-2 in another.  London got timely goals - obviously, that was a huge goal by Domi in the end.

"I'm proud of our kids.  They competed very hard and didn't give up.  They could have shut it down real easy (being behind, 4-0).  I said it last night or the night before, that I believe in these guys and they believe in themselves. They're not quitters and they wanted to win a championship. 

"I have to give the Knights some props, because they beat a team that really wanted to win and believed they could (win), right to the end."

London outshot Plymouth, 13-9, and built a 2-0 lead in the first period on a goals by Domi at 9:24 (hard shot, left circle), and Broadhurst at 15:56 (re-direct from the hashmarks, set up by Domi).

Plymouth's Mitchell Heard - back in the lineup after being suspended for a game - was assessed an instigator penalty at 1:57 of the second period after fighting London's Nikita Zadorov after Zadorov bowled over Plymouth's Tom Wilson in front of the penalty box.

London clicked on the ensuing power play when Horvat (all alone in front of Plymouth goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic) scored at 2:30.  Broadhurst scored his second goal of the game at 6:49 with a shot from the right circle.

At one point in the period, the shots in the game were even at 17 each.  But Plymouth started their comeback, getting sustained pressure in the London zone over the second half of the second period and getting a goal from Hartman, who snapped home a rebound at 17:26 to cut the London lead to 4-1.

Plymouth outshot London, 25-9, in the second period.

The Whalers didn't register a shot over the first six minutes of the third period, but cut into the deficit a little more when Meurs skated hard through center into the left wing on the London zone and snapped a shot, top-shelf, under the cross bar at 9:09 of the third period to cut the London lead to 4-2.

Carrick - who had an outstanding playoff for the Whalers - cut the London lead to 4-3 at 11:42, working with Rickard Rakell.  Carrick followed the puck to left circle and shot the puck on the backhand through traffic and into the London goal past Knights goaltender Anthony Stolarz.

Curcuruto tied the game at 4-4 at 15:27 with a fine individual effort, taking the puck along the right-wing half-wall, then skated to the high slot and held the puck at the point before burying the shot, top-shelf under the bar.

Nedeljkovic made an outstanding stop in the final seconds of regulation on Domi to force the overtime.

Domi ended Plymouth's season at 0:20 of the extra session, scoring on the only shot in overtime in taking Chris Tierney's pass from behind the Whalers goal and snapping the shot from the left post and into the net.

GAME SUMMARY

 

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