Ever since he came to the Skipjacks in an offseason trade with Winnipeg, center Simon Wheeldon has preached the power of the power play.
Never was its strength more evident than in last night's 5-2 win over the Halifax Citadels at the Arena.
The Jacks (7-4-1) scored on three of their first five power plays in the opening period, with the line of John Purves, Craig Duncanson and Wheeldon landing all of the goals.
"When the specialty units are clicking like that, you win games," said Wheeldon, who has seven goals, five with the extra attacker. "It was going so well and we were pressuring them so well that we could have had a couple more with a little luck."
Just 16:07 into the game Wheeldon already had a pair of goals, but said looking for the third becomes a bit of a jinx.
"You never want to look for No. 3.," Wheeldon said. "If it comes, it comes."
Jacks coach Robbie Laird was equally impressed by the power-play unit, which finished the night three of nine.
During the last few extra-man situations, Laird tripped up Citadels coach Clement Jodoin by using the No. 2 line of Reggie Savage, Todd Hlushko and Tim Taylor.
"I was trying to keep Wheeldon's line away from their top penalty-killing unit [featuring Marc Fortier]," Laird said. "I wanted to put our No. 1 in against their second line toward the end of the penalty."
What resulted was a pleasant surprise.
The Savage-Hlushko-Taylor combination created so much pressure they couldn't get off the ice.
"They got good pressure and as long as they keep the puck in there and they keep attacking, let them keep trying to score," said Wheeldon, who also had an assist. "They did a great job."
"I thought we created some good chances and we were getting the shots," said Savage, whose line didn't manage a point for its efforts. "It just didn't go in the net. We're not worried. If we keep creating chances and shooting the puck, the goals will come. It's just a matter of time."
After Purves scored to lift the lead to 3-1 with 1:10 remaining in the first period, Citadels right wing Daniel Dore got a fluke goal, beating Jim Hrivnak between the legs as the buzzer sounded.
The middle period was uneventful except for a pair of brawls between tough-guys Richie Walcott and Dore, and Trevor Halverson and Serge Roberge. In both cases, the Jacks' players got the upper hand.
But it was Halverson's stick, not his left hook, which put the game out of reach when he scored the Jacks' fourth goal at 12:59 of the third period. Ken Lovsin added an empty-net goal with 50 seconds left.
"Trevor Halverson played a spectacular game," Wheeldon said. "He won his fight and then came out of the box and got a real big goal for us to ice it. He and Richie Walcott have a tough role on this team and tonight it made a big difference."
Hrivnak's return was less than spectacular. He saved 18 of 20 shots, but both even-strength goals were soft . . . Lovsin got assists on both of Wheeldon's goals in addition to his goal to finish with three points. He also had two assists in Sunday's win over Utica.