WorSharks Stumble Against Checkers, 4-2

By Darryl Hunt - Last updated: Sunday, November 28, 2010 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

The Worcester Sharks found out Saturday night that great goaltending isn’t all that’s needed to win games; that you also need to put the puck in the net when you have the chance and you have to avoid defensive mistakes and turnovers. The WorSharks did almost none of those things in a 4-2 loss to the Charlotte Checkers at the DCU center in front of 3,384 fans.

The two teams would move up and down the ice in the first period like it was a basketball game they combined for 28 shots in the opening 20 minutes, many of them great scoring chances. And it would have looked like a basketball score were it not for WorSharks goaltender Alex Stalock and Charlotte netminder Justin Pogge, who each made great save after great save. The Checkers, who last season played in Albany as the River Rats, would get on the board first off a bad bounce for the WorSharks. Charlotte winger Chris Terry positioned himself at the left wing boards and threw a hard pass toward the net into traffic that banked off a Worcester player in front and past Stalock at 5:02 of the first.

Worcester would tie the game off a rebound when Joe Loprieno scored his first professional goal. Loprieno, a defenseman pressed into service as a forward with the injury bug hitting both San Jose and the WorSharks, was standing in front of the net screening Pogge as Jay Leach’s right point shot went on goal. Pogge made the easy save and went to cover the rebound but the puck slid away from him just slightly. It was enough room for Loprieno to jam at the puck past Pogge and into the net at 11:38. Newly signed Jason Pitton had the second assist on the goal for his feed to Leach at the point.

The WorSharks would grab a 2-1 lead on a play where every skater in a white jersey touched the puck. The play started behind the Worcester goal where Jay Leach battled along the end boards with two Checkers forwards for the puck. He moved the puck toward the left corner to Steven Zalewski, who in turned continued the puck to James Marcou at the left wing half boards. Marcou flipped a backhander high out of the zone where it landed at center ice in front of Brandon Mashinter, who broke into the Checkers zone. Matt Irwin, who started the play guarding the front of the net with Stalock, streaked into the offensive zone uncovered where Mashinter hit him with a backhand pass from the right circle into the slot. Irwin’s high shot went into the high glove side corner at 17:30.

Charlotte’s second goal was one the WorSharks would love to have back. After being hemmed into their own zone Worcester twice turned the puck over to go along with their two failed clearing attempts. All that running around by the WorSharks left everyone out of position and a Checkers forward all alone in front of Stalock. With the netminder trying to guard his net and prevent a pass into the slot Drayson Bowman fired a shot on net that banked in off Stalock at 10:17 of the second. Stalock didn’t let that goal get to him, and continued to stand tall throughout the period keeping the charging Checkers off the board. But it was the waining seconds of the middle stanza that would eventually lead to the WorSharks downfall despite Charlotte not lighting the lamp.

As time wound down on the period Bowden chased a loose puck into the Worcester, only to have Stalock beat him to it and knock it into the left corner. As Stalock scrambled back to his cage the Charlotte forwards poured into the zone and raced to the net. Sean Sullivan took a good hooking penalty to prevent a sure goal, and as play continued along Checkers center Jon Matsumoto had the puck in the slot with 24 square feet of empty net in front of him. Stalock dove across the crease like a soccer goalie and used the only thing available at the time to make the save–the top of his helmet. Sullivan took his seat in the penalty box with four seconds remaining, and after a face-off win for Worcester Charlotte winger Terry hit defenseman Nick Petrecki with a couple of crosschecks. As is normally the case, referee Gino Binda missed those infractions and only saw Petrecki’s retaliation, sending the defenseman to the sin bin to give the Checkers 1:57 of two man advantage to start period number three. Petrecki made sure Binda heard his displeasure on the call, and Captain Leach was also very vocal yelling “You got to be kidding me”–along with an expletive or two–as Binda stood in the referee’s crease.

Stalock and the WorSharks played the two man disadvantage almost as well as they could and nearly survived the penalties, but eventually Charlotte’s numbers allowed for Worcester to be out manned at the crease where Zach Boychuk banged home a rebound at 1:49 of the third to take the 3-2 lead. The WorSharks would have ample opportunities to get back to even, but several unlucky bounces and a handful of great saves by Pogge kept Worcester from tying the game. Matsumoto’s 170 foot empty net goal with six seconds remaining ended all hope of a miracle comeback.

With Benn Ferriero being recalled just before Friday night’s game in Providence and Tommy Wingles getting the call after the game, the WorSharks dipped into the ECHL and signed forwards Jason Pitton and Jim McKenzie to PTOs. Both are from Worcester’s and San Jose’s ECHL affiliate in Stockton. Every healthy player played for Worcester, who dressed 11 forwards and seven defenseman. There were no changes to Worcester’s injury list from Friday night, although with both Niclas Wallin and Kent Huskins being injured in San Jose’s 4-3 victory over Edmonton it looks like the WorSharks will be losing at least one more player.

Not only are San Jose and Worcester having issues with injuries and illness, the DCU center game day staff also went into the game shorthanded. WTAG newsman and “Sharks this Week” host Sherman Whitman filled in for normal PA announcer George Brown, and Director of Youth Hockey and Community Relations Mike Myers was pressed into duty as the visitor’s penalty box attendant.

There was one fight in the contest, with Pitton (6’3″ 218#) taking on Nicolas Blanchard (6″3″ 206#) in a spirited bout at center ice just after the face-off after Irwin’s goal. Hometown scoring gave the edge to Pitton. There was also one huge hit worth mentioning, as Nick Schaus absolutely pasted Chris Terry into the visitor’s penalty box door with about 7:30 remaining in the second period. Play would be stopped as the trainer tended to Terry, and the winger missed a couple of shifts before returning to action.

The three stars of the game were
1. CHA – 27 Drayson Bowman (g)
2. WOR – 3 Joe Loprieno (g)
3. CHA – 1 Justin Pogge (42 saves)

The Sharkspage player of the game was Alex Stalock.

Even Strength Lines


Penalty Kill Lines


Power Play lines


Charlotte 1 1 2 – 4
Worcester 2 0 0 – 2

1st Period-1, Charlotte, Terry 9 (Samson, Nash), 5:02. 2, Worcester, Loprieno 1 (Pitton, Leach), 11:38. 3, Worcester, Irwin 2 (Mashinter, Marcou), 17:30. Penalties-Petrecki Wor (interference), 1:30; Blanchard Cha (fighting), 17:33; Pitton Wor (fighting), 17:33.

2nd Period-4, Charlotte, Bowman 3 (Dalpe), 10:17. Penalties-Dalpe Cha (delay of game), 15:15; Sullivan Wor (hooking), 19:56; Petrecki Wor (roughing), 20:00.

3rd Period-5, Charlotte, Boychuk 9 (Samson, Rodney), 1:49 (PP). 6, Charlotte, Matsumoto 4 (Samson), 19:54 (EN). Penalties-Osala Cha (cross-checking), 2:49; Nash Cha (tripping), 16:13.

Shots on Goal-Charlotte 13-8-17-38. Worcester 15-14-15-44.
Power Play Opportunities-Charlotte 1/3; Worcester 0/3.
Goalies-Charlotte, Pogge 7-5-0 (44 shots-42 saves). Worcester, Stalock 9-7-1 (37 shots-34 saves).
Referee-Geno Binda (22). Linesmen-Brian MacDonald (72), Bob Paquette (18).

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