PLYMOUTH, Mich. - It's not often that the Windsor Spitfires do a favor for their arch-rivals, the Plymouth Whalers.
But that's what happened on Thursday when the Spitfires defeated the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, 7-4.
The Hounds' loss to Windsor mathematically eliminated the Soo from winning the West Division and gave the Whalers their 12th division championship in the team's 23-year history.
The Whalers didn't back into the West Division title. Using an effective combination of balance on all ends of the ice, Plymouth has gone 24-6-0-1 since December 27 to improve to their current record of 38-17-5-4.
Plymouth has won with West (or Emms) Division title in 1993-94, 1994-95, 1995-96, 1998-99, 1999-00, 2000-01, 2001-02, 2002-03, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2011-12 and now this season.
Plymouth is back in action on Sunday at 2 pm at Compuware Arena against Saginaw (2 pm, Comcast 900).
Although the Whalers lead the OHL with 269 goals scored, defense has led to the Plymouth's success. 37 of the Whalers' 38 victories have occurred when the team allows three goals or less.
Rookie goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (2.11 GAA, .928 save percentage, 17-2-1-1 won-loss record) has been red hot over the second half of the season and was recently named OHL Rookie and Goaltender of the Month for February. In addition, Nedeljkovic (17-years-old) is the current Vaughn Canadian Hockey League Goaltender of the Week.
Offensively, Plymouth features eight players with at least 20-goals scored (Matt Mistele, 32; Garrett Meurs, 27; Ryan Hartman, Tom Wilson, Stefan Noesen and Vince Trocheck, all with 23 each; Cody Payne, 22; Rickard Rakell, 21).
The Whalers have qualified for the OHL playoffs for 22 straight seasons, which is a current league record. Plymouth will start the 2013 playoffs at Compuware Arena on Fri. Mar. 23 or Sat. Mar. 24 against an opponent to be determined.
Plymouth playoff tickets can be purchased in 12-game packages for $120 for Executive Reserved seating or $168 for Center Ice Seating. Tickets for individual playoff game will be available once an opponent and dates have been confirmed. For more information, please call the Compuware Arena box office at (734) 453-8400 or check online at www.plymouthwhalers.com.
After Sunday's game, Plymouth will host a Skate with the Whalers event for all fans. Parents must sign a waiver for their kids and receive a wristband for each of their skaters from the Fan Assistance Center, located behind section 120. Skates are available for rent.
Copyright 2013 by ClickOnDetroit.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.