ERIE, Pa. - Zack Torquato had a goal and four assists as the streaking Erie Otters beat the Plymouth Whalers 7-3 in Ontario Hockey League action Wednesday.
Erie (19-15-6) is on a four-game winning streak, scoring 26 goals over that span.
The top line of Torquato, Greg McKegg (two goals, assist) and Mike Cazzola (goal, two assists) combined for four goals and 11 points. All three reached the 20-goal mark for the season.
Eleven Otters in all contributed points. The Otters have earned nine of 10 points in the second half of the OHL season so far.
The teams combined for seven goals on 23 shots in the first period alone. They also were a combined 3-for-3 on the power play.
The Whalers raced to a 2-0 lead despite being without forwards A.J. Jenks and Garrett Meurs and offensive defenceman Michal Jordan. Josh Brittain and Leo Jenner sparked the Whalers' offence with goals in the opening three minutes 54 seconds of the game.
Jenks was part of the American team that won gold Tuesday at the world junior hockey championship, while Jordan was captain for his native Czech Republic in the tournament.
Meurs earned a silver medal on Monday with Ontario at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
The Otters responded quickly with goals from Andrew Yogan and Zack Torquato at 6:18 and 6:59 of the period.
The Whalers regained the lead at 3-2 on Robbie Czarnik's goal with 7:19 left in the period. Mike Cazzola tied the game again 14 seconds later, then rookie Jordan Coccimiglio scored the tiebreaking goal - the first of his OHL career - with 26 seconds left.
Five minutes into the second period, the Otters' offence struck again. McKegg scored on the power play 5:14 into the period on pinpoint passes from Torquato and Mitch Gaulton. Then with 2:36 left, rookie David Broll scored his first goal since Oct. 23 for a 6-3 Otters lead.
That goal ended Whalers goaltender Matt Hackett's night. He allowed six goals on 24 shots after entering the game ranked among the league's top five in wins, goals-against average and save percentage.
McKegg scored his second of the game, this time against backup Scott Wedgewood, 7:25 into the third.
Ramis Sadikov (17 saves) earned the win in his return from the IIHF World Junior Championship.