Mistake-Prone WorSharks Drop Opener to Bridgeport, 5-4

By Darryl Hunt - Last updated: Sunday, October 10, 2010 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

The Worcester Sharks opened the defense of their 2010-2011 American Hockey League Atlantic Division crown Saturday night, and despite two goals from Brandon Mashinter and multiple point nights from T.J. Trevelyan and Jonathan Cheechoo couldn’t overcome several mental lapses in losing a 5-4 shootout decision to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Connecticut in front of a sellout crowd of 8,480.

Playing in front of such a loud, hostile crowd the last thing the WorSharks wanted to do was fall behind early, but that’s exactly what they did when center Steven Zalewski’s cross ice pass attempt was picked off by Bridgeport’s Micheal Haley just inside the Worcester zone. Haley skated down the slot unmolested and beat WorSharks goaltender Alex Stalock over the shoulder from between the circles for the unassisted tally at 2:57 of the first.

Worcester would get themselves even when they took advantage of a Sound Tiger’s miscue deep in their own zone With the puck behind the Bridgeport net defenseman Travis Hamonic picked up a loose puck from just behind the goal line and attempted a clearing feed, but the attempt hit Cheechoo in the skate and bounced into the net past a stunned Sound Tiger’s netminder Mikko Koskinen at 5:25. Newly named captain Jay Leach and Zalewski had the assists on the goal.

Bridgeport got the lead back at 8:18 when they converted on a shorthanded breakaway. With Anton Klementyev in the box for holding, defenseman Nick Petrecki skated up the left wing side only to have the puck poke checked away by Matt Martin. Rob Hisey picked up the loose puck at the red line and skated in on Stalock with four WorSharks giving chase. Stalock did get a piece of Hisey’s stick side blast, but the puck rolled into the net for the 2-1 lead.

One of the players the WorSharks will be leaning on heavily this season is Brandon Mashinter, and he showed why by grabbing the next two goals of the contest. The first was on the power play at 8:03 of the second stanza when he tipped defenseman Justin Braun’s blast past Koskinen. Cheechoo had the second assist on the goal for his pass from the RW circle back to the left point. Mashinter was standing at the top of the crease screening Koskinen from the Braun one timer and changed direction of the puck just enough to light the lamp.

The second came at 16:44, and was again off a shot by a Worcester defenseman. With the WorSharks breaking into the Bridgeport zone on a three on three, Nick Schaus trailed the play and headed for the net where Trevelyan hit him with a hard pass. Schaus bobbled the puck a little but was able to get a weak shot off through traffic that Koskinen made an easy right pad save on. Mashinter, standing in almost the exact same spot as his first goal, banged home the rebound to give Worcester the 3-2 lead.

One of the Cardinal sins of hockey is giving up a goal in the first or last minute of a period. Unfortunately for Worcester, they did both Saturday night. With 16 seconds left in the middle stanza Bridgeport broke into the Worcester zone three on two when David Ullstrom stepped around Zalewski to create the odd man rush. Ullstrom found Matt Martin with a pass, and Martin’s bad angle shot from the right of Stalock found the twine to knot the game at 3-3.

The Sound Tigers would take advantage of another Worcester error just 28 seconds into period number three. After a Bridgeport clear in on Stalock the netminder cleared the puck into the left corner where Leach took control. His lazy pass attempt behind his own net hit a Sound Tiger forechecker, where Tomas Marcinko pounced on the loose puck and found Robin Figren alone in the slot. Stalock never stood a chance as Bridgeport grabbed a 4-3 lead.

One of the best things last season was Worcester never gave up, and that appears to have carried over to this season as the WorSharks continued to pressure the Sound Tigers trying to get the equalizer. That hard work paid off when Trevelyan and Garet Hunt broke into the Bridgeport zone two on one against defenseman Hamonic. With a scrum of players in front of Koskinen the puck bounced to Cory Quirk at the goal line, who buried the biscuit to knot the game 4-4. Trevelyan was announced as the goal scorer, but that will be changed as the puck went into the net directly off Quirk’s stick. Hunt earned his first AHL point on the play.

After a scoreless overtime period the game went to the shootout that lasted seven rounds where Mashinter, Zalewski, and Dan DaSilva scored for Worcester. Bridgeport’s shootout scorers were Justin DiBenedetto, Figren, Hisey, and Tomas Marcinko to give the Sound Tigers the 5-4 final.

Worcester health scratches were rookies Matt Irwin and Leigh Salters. Cam MacIntyre (groin) is the only Worcester player on the injured list. Carter Hutton was the back-up netminder.

Jonathan Cheechoo, who is playing in Worcester under a PTO (professional try-out) contract, was easily the best player on the ice in a WorSharks uniform. In addition to his goal and assist he had a goal called back at 10:28 of the second period after the officials decided he had tipped the puck with a high stick. Referee Francis Charron originally called the goal good, but after conferring with linesman David Spannaus disallowed the goal. The video seems to show the original call of goal was the correct call.

Speaking of referees, the AHL will be using the two referee system in about 25% of its regular season games this season and for all the Calder Cup playoff games. Friday’s game used just a single referee, as will Sunday afternoon’s contest in Hartford. Unfortunately the AHL still does not use video replay in its games at all.

There was one fight in the contest, with Garet Hunt (5’8″ 190#) taking on Jean Bourbeau (6′ 200#) after Bourbeau threw a huge hit on Dan DaSilva at the Bridgeport bench. Hunt earned the instigator in the battle that was pretty even as both players landed several good shots.

Head coach Roy Sommer’s choice of defenseman Sean Sullivan in the 7th round of the shootout is in interesting one. The attempt was just his second in the AHL, and he is scoreless in both tries. One has to wonder with forwards like Tony Lucia, Cory Quirk, and Andrew Desjardins sitting on the bench why Sommer went with Sullivan.

The WorSharks have started each of their five seasons on the road, and have a 3-1-1 record in those games. Mashinter joins Cory Larose as the only Worcester players with multiple goal games on opening night. Had Cheechoo’s second tally counted he would have joined Larose as the only players with two goals in their first game with Worcester.

The three stars of the game were
1. BRI – 12 Tomas Marcinko (a, gw shootout goal)
2. WOR – 53 Brandon Mashinter (2g)
3. BRI – 17 Matt Martin (g,a)

The Sharkspage player of the game was Jonathan Cheechoo

Even strength lines

The defensive pairings rotated a lot, but to start the game it was

Worcester 1 2 1 0 – 4
Bridgeport 2 1 1 0 – 5

1st Period-1, Bridgeport, Haley 1   2:57. 2, Worcester, Cheechoo 1 (Leach, Zalewski), 5:25. 3, Bridgeport, Hisey 1 (Martin), 8:18 (SH). Penalties-Klementyev Bri (holding), 6:44; Hunt Wor (instigating, fighting, misconduct – instigating), 9:08; Bourbeau Bri (fighting), 9:08.

2nd Period-4, Worcester, Mashinter 1 (Cheechoo, Braun), 8:03 (PP). 5, Worcester, Mashinter 2 (Schaus, Trevelyan), 16:44. 6, Bridgeport, Martin 1 (Ullstrom), 19:44. Penalties-Ferriero Wor (hooking), 2:00; Klementyev Bri (interference), 7:47; Yablonski Bri (interference), 10:23; Hamonic Bri (hooking), 12:20.

3rd Period-7, Bridgeport, Figren 1 (Marcinko), 0:28. 8, Worcester, Trevelyan 1 (Quirk, Hunt), 8:46. Penalties-Hamonic Bri (high-sticking), 5:00.

OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties

Shootout – Worcester 3 (Cheechoo NG, Ferriero NG, Mashinter G, Trevelyan NG, DaSilva G, Zalewski G, Sullivan NG), Bridgeport 4 (DiBenedetto NG, Rakhshani NG, Figren G, Hisey G, Martin NG, Romano G, Marcinko G).

Shots on Goal-Worcester 7-11-11-1-0-30. Bridgeport 12-9-9-4-1-35.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 1 / 5; Bridgeport 0 / 2.
Goalies-Worcester, Stalock 0-0-0 (34 shots-30 saves). Bridgeport, Koskinen 0-0-0 (30 shots-26 saves).
Referee-Francis Charron (46). Linesmen-Luke Galvin (2), David Spannaus (8).

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