Plymouth Whalers (34-17-5-4) at Erie Otters (17-36-3-5)
When: Today, 7 p.m.
Where: Erie Insurance Arena
On the air: WFNN-AM/1330, www.ottershockey.com (live stream)
Upcoming schedule: Saturday vs. Windsor, 7 p.m., March 8-9 at Owen Sound, 7:30 p.m.
What to expect: The Otters have lost five straight – two shy of their matching season-worst skid set Jan. 21 to Feb. 3 – and eight of their last 10 games. … They will play without four regulars suspended by the OHL – forwards Dane Fox (14 goals, 30 points in 31 games), Jake Evans (5-11-16) and Hayden Hodgson (8-4-12) and defenseman Adam Pelech (7-30-37). … Hodgson will miss the final seven games of the season and first three games of the 2013-14 season for a hit that injured rookie LW Henri Ikonen, Kingston’s leading scorer, in last Sunday’s loss. … Evans will miss both games this weekend for instigating the second fight in the same stoppage during that game. … Fox completes a two-game suspension tonight for instigating a fight in the last five minutes of a loss to Sarnia Feb. 22. … Pelech completes his five-game suspension this weekend for a 5-minute cross-checking penalty and game misconduct Feb. 18 in London. … The Otters also remain without captain Connor Brown (concussion). He hopes to resume skating next week, and holds out hope he can rejoin the lineup before the season ends March 16 against Guelph. … Otters coach Kris Knoblauch said club officials would like to recall prospects to fill in for those missing players. But those prospects are still in the playoffs with Tier II teams. Knoblauch was unsure if they could arrange call-ups in time for tonight’s game. … Otters C Connor McDavid (24-34-58) and Sarnia RW Nikolay Goldobin (26-32-58) are tied atop the league’s rookie scoring list. Both teams have seven games left. McDavid leads Goldobin by two in assists and trails Goldobin by two in goals. … Plymouth entered Thursday night’s game at Niagara leading the West Division by five points over Sault Ste. Marie and second in the Western Conference. … The Whalers have won eight of their last 10 games. … They began Thursday leading the league with 246 goals scored. The Otters have allowed 277 goals, the second-worst total. … Plymouth can sweep the four-game season series from the Otters with a win. … C Vincent Trocheck, a Pittsburgh native, ranks second in the league with 42 goals, third with 91 points and seventh with 49 assists. He has 18 goals and 41 points in 20 games since being acquired from Saginaw Jan. 10. … Windsor (24-29-1-6) entered Thursday night’s home game against OHL-leading London trailing Saginaw by nine points for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot. The Spitfires have seven games left. … They had lost seven of their previous 10 games.
Note: Plymouth’s record doesn’t include Thursday night’s game at Niagara.
* More online: Check out Otters rookie winger Hayden Hodgson’s thoughts on his 10-game suspension on the Shootout hockey blog at GoErie.com/blogs/shootout and Twitter at www.twitter.com/goeriehockey.
- Victor Fernandes