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PLYMOUTH - After a relaxing break to celebrate Christmas, the Plymouth Whalers are back in action this week with two home games.

THURSDAY - WINDSOR (12-19-1-1) at PLYMOUTH (22-10-1-1), 2:00 p.m., Compuware Sports Arena:

The Whalers host Windsor in their annual Kid's Day Matinee. Among the activities planned for kids of all ages:

Kids of all ages can celebrate the birthday of the Whalers' mascot, Shooter.

Kids of all ages can get their faces painted.

Kids of all ages can participate in a Gumball Guess.

Play the Whale of Fortune for fun and prizes.

Ballon Sculpting provided by OddzinEnds Entertainment.

Whaler players will be signing autographs during the second intermission.

The Whalers are offering their popular Family Value Plan for the game. For $44, families receive four tickets, four hotdogs, four Pepsi products and four lineup cards. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Compuware Sports Arena at (734) 453-8400 or by going to Ticketmaster at Official Ticketmaster site. Tickets for Concerts, Sports, Arts, Theater, Family, Events, more.

Not only is there fun planned for children of ages, the hockey should be excellent. Windsor General Manager Warren Rychel and Head Coach Bob Boughner are rebuilding with a team that is among the youngest in the Ontario Hockey League. But the Spits are much-improved over the last month, having won their last six road games. In fact, the Spitfires' last loss on the road came on Nov. 22 in a 5-4 loss to Plymouth at the Compuware Sports Arena.

As good as Windsor has been over the last month, Plymouth has been even better. The Whalers come into Thursday's game 14-1-1-1 over its' last 17 games to grab a share of first place in the OHL's West Division.

Plymouth starts the second half of the season with the OHL's best team defense (93 goals allowed in 34 games) and leads the league in penalty-killing at 86.9 percent. The Whalers have two rookie goaltenders that are in the top five in the OHL. Brownstown's Jeremy Smith leads the OHL with a .922 save percentage and is second overall with a 2.54 goals against average. Michal Neuvirth - a second round pick of the Washington Capitals - is third overall with a 2.79 goals against average and .920 save percentage.

Offensively, Plymouth is led by Chicago-draft Evan Brophey, who is tied for the league-lead in assists with 46 and is fifth in scoring with 14 goals and 46 assists for 60 points in 34 games. Columbus-draft Tom Sestito leads Plymouth with 22 goals to go with 12 assists for 34 points in 31 games.

SATURDAY - GUELPH (16-14-1-4) at PLYMOUTH, 7:05 p.m., Compuware Sports Arena:

The Whalers ring out 2006 with their fourth game of the season against the Storm on College Night. Plymouth has won the three previous games with Guelph

The Storm is coached by former Red Wing Dave Barr, who won the OHL's Matt Leyden Trophy last season as Coach of the Year.
 
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