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Plymouth Whalers’ Tom Wilson Capital-izes with hat trick: Sunday’s 3 Stars

Neate Sager
Buzzing The Net

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Wilson's hat trick included the tying goal with 48 seconds left in regulation time (Terry Wilson, OHL Images)

No. 1 star: Tom Wilson, Plymouth Whalers (OHL)

The indomitable Wilson (3G, +2) scored all three Whalers goals in regulation time, killed penalties in overtime and used his 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame to good effect in board battles to help Plymouth prevail in their longest game in franchise history. Wilson also created a diversion in front of London Knights goalie Anthony Stolarz in the second overtime, giving Anaheim Ducks prospect Rickard Rakell an opening to flick home the decider for a series-tying 4-3 win.

All three of the Washington Capitals first-rounder's goals tied the game. London had period leads of 1-0 and 2-1, but Wilson first levelled on a deflection and then backhanded in a rebound 6:53 into the third to re-tie the game (and end Plymouth's streak of nine consecutive fruitless power plays). A goalie interference penalty on Colorado Avalanche selection Garrett Meurs led to London's Max Domi snapping in a go-ahead goal with 9:54 left. With 48 seconds left, though, Wilson got away from New York Rangers blueline prospect Tommy Hughes and went bar-down to force overtime, quieting 9,016 London fans.

The 19-year-old Toronto native also did some great work clearing the zone when Plymouth was looking ragged during a Knights power play in the second OT. When Plymouth finally got an extra-skater edge of its own, it took all of 36 seconds before Rakell, with Wilson parked in front of the net, scored to end the three-hour, 32-minute thriller.

At 90 minutes 16 seconds, the game was the longest in the 23-season history of the Plymouth franchise. The previous mark of 90:02 was set March 22, 1997, when Mike Morrone scored at 10:02 of double overtime for the Whalers in a 4-3 double overtime win against Joe Thornton and the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

No. 2 star: Alex Nedeljkovic, Plymouth Whalers (OHL)

Ned The Goal-Diddly-Oalie, who is 17 going on 28, left London frust-iddly-rated by stopping 61-of-64 Knights shots during Plymouth's dramatic Game 2 win. The unprepossessing rookie goalie from Parma, Ohio, kept the Whalers in contact with just a little more than two minutes to play when he stoned Josh Anderson on a breakaway, giving the Whalers a chance to tie the game.

Nedeljkovic, having already made 35 saves across three periods, made 26 more during next-goal-win times. He robbed London's 81-point scorer, Seth Griffith, early in the second overtime. A few minutes later, it was over. It was money goaltending from a youngster who, according to Wilson, acts like he's a third-stringer called up from Junior A in case of an injury.

"He'll be loading the bus, he'll unload the bus," Wilson said of Nedeljkovic. "We respect that. Hopefully we're giving him everything he needs to keep making the saves. He really did a good job tonight."

No. 3 star: Martin Frk, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

There's no seeing the Mooseheads' 5-4 Game 2 comeback win over the underdog-mindset Rouyn-Noranda Huskies through a glass of Alexander Keith's amber. The mighty Mooseheads got a little sloppy while giving up four first-period goals, but kicked at the darkness until it bled daylight when Frk (2G-1A) banged in a power-play goal 7:12 into overtime. The goal came Halifax earned a 5-on-3 power play in overtime thanks in part to a check from behind on Nathan MacKinnon. Rouyn-Noranda kept Halifax at bay, but finally broke down and Frk scored on a one-timer three seconds after the first penalty expired.

That had 10,000 Bluenosers saying, "Thank Frk."

The Detroit Red Wings second-rounder and linemates Jonathan Drouin (1G-3A, +1) and MacKinnon (1G-3A, +1) combined for 11 points on the night, all on special teams goals. Drouin scored short-handed after being sprung for a breakaway by a bank pass from MacKinnon. Frk drilled in his first of the night off a Drouin feed. In the third period, MacKinnon pulled a goal back for Halifax before they finally got some secondary scoring when Andrew Ryan tallied.

All told, the MacKinnon-Drouin-Frk line has 23 points through the series' first two games. Frk has nine goals and 20 points in 10 playoff games.

Honourable mention: Gabriel Desjardins, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)

The ex-Moosehead did some diligent setup work for the Huskies, earning three primary assists on the night. Desjardins (3A, +1), a native of L'Assomption, Que., also did his utmost to help Rouyn-Noranda try to stop Halifax's ever-potent power play, which had eight opportunities on the night. The Mooseheads converted three player advantages, including one in OT, but it was not due to a lack of sacrifice by Huskies penalty killers.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to btnblog@yahoo.ca.

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