The Worcester Sharks finally turned the tables on an opponent in the third period by making a miracle multi-goal comeback, only to stumble at the very end to lose their lead and then the game 5-4 in a shootout to the Portland Pirates Sunday afternoon at the DCU center in Worcester, Massachusetts in front of 3,407 fans.
After giving up the final five goals in Saturday night’s contest it was important for the WorSharks to get off to a good start, but from the opening face-off the period was all Portland as the Pirates would out shoot Worcester 12-5 and grab the first two goals of the game. Mark Mancari, who seems to be making a career in scoring points against Worcester, gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead when he beat Matt Irwin to the far post and tipped a Dennis McCauley feed from the left wing boards past WorSharks goaltender Alex Stalock at 3:07. Dennis Persson would make it 2-0 with a power play blast from high between the circles at 7:36.
The period would see one lone highlight for Worcester when Brandon Mashinter took on Portland defenseman Tim Conboy late in the first period. On Friday night in Portland Conboy threw a check to the head of Cory Quirk which knocked the forward out with a concussion, and as the AHL had not announced a possible suspension–word is one may be coming Monday–he was eligible to play. After Conboy skated away from Frazer McLaren earlier in the period Mashinter didn’t give him a choice, grabbing the defenseman and throwing bombs behind the Portland net after a whistle.
Worcester picked up the pace in the second period but still couldn’t solve Portland goaltender Jhonas Enroth, and it looked bad for the WorSharks when Mancari converted a turnover into an unassisted shorthanded goal at 15:31. Down 3-0 Worcester fans were probably figuring a comeback in the third period was unlikely but stuck around to see if Worcester would extract more revenge on Conboy. Those that stayed saw both.
With two seconds left in the second period and the face-off deep in the Worcester zone captain Jay Leach lined up next to Conboy and never took his eyes off the defenseman as the puck dropped. As the players all paired off around the scrum Conboy held his own in the battle, pulling the jersey over Leach’s head in the crease. Stalock, who had seen enough, grabbed Conbow preventing him from throwing any punches, drawing the ire of the Portland players including Pirates back-up netminder David Leggio who was sitting outside the visitors player gate. Stalock challenged the netminder to come on to the ice, but cooler heads prevailed as the players were sent off to their dressing rooms.
Matt Irwin would get Worcester on the board on an end to end to end play more reminiscent of basketball than hockey. After Worcester crashed the net in the Portland zone the Pirates gained control of the puck and broke into the WorSharks zone three on one against Joe Loprieno. With Stalock yelling he had the shooter Loprieno played to stop the cross ice pass as the netminder made a blocker save to deflect the puck off the end boards. The puck was shot so hard that the rebound went beyond the onrushing Portland forwards to newly signed winger Chris Blight, who sent Worcester off on a three on one of its own. Irwin’s blast beat Enroth over the shoulder at 6:31.
Nick Schaus would convert on a power play goal to make it 3-2 at 9:50 after the WorSharks had some time on a rare four on three power play. With Worcester’s Ryan Del Monte and Portland’s Maxime Legault were already in the box for matching minors Luke Adam would be called for hooking setting up the odd power play. The WorSharks didn’t generate much offense during that stretch, but once Del Monte and Legault returned to the ice they showed plenyt of offense as they dropped the gloves and went at it on center ice in a spirited bout. Schaus’ blue line blast through traffic, assisted by T.J. Trevelyan and Tommy Wingles, took place soon after the dust had settled.
After Dan DaSilva and Corey Tropp were called for matching roughing minors Leach would get a “right place, right time” goal to get Worcester even. After a turnover by Portland deep in the Worcester zone Leach broke out of the WorSharks zone on another odd man rush, where Leach would make a pass over to Schaus that was too deep for the defenseman to handle cleanly. Schaus gathered the puck and wheeled the net, throwing a pass out front to Leach standing at the near post. Leach banged the puck home at 12:17 to knot the score 3-3.
Andrew Desjardins would give Worcester a 4-3 lead when he and Kevin Henderson converted on another odd man rush for the WorSharks at 13:10. Blight send the two into the Portland zone, and Desjardins blasted a one-timer past Enroth to light the lamp.
But as is well know, the third period has not been kind to Worcester and Sunday was no exception. Despite Worcester carrying the play Portland was able to gain control in the Worcester zone with an extra attacker where–who else?–Mancari was able to grab a loose puck and bang it home to knot the game with just 28 seconds remaining.
Both teams would have great chances in the over time period but timely saves would move the game on to the shootout where Worcester went scoreless. Tropp and Adam scored for Portland to give them the extra point.
Prior to the game the WorSharks signed forward Chris Blight to a PTO, and he took defenseman Ryan Lannon’s spot in the line-up for the only change from Saturday night. Worcester’s injury list remains unchanged.
The three stars of the game were
1. POR – 25 Mark Mancari (hat trick)
2. WOR – 6 Nick Schaus (g,a)
3. POR – 39 Luke Adam (a)
The Sharkspage player of the game was Chris Blight.
Even strength lines
Penalty kill lines
Power play lines
Portland 2 1 1 0 – 5
Worcester 0 0 4 0 – 4
1st Period-1, Portland, Mancari 24 (McCauley, Schiestel), 3:07. 2, Portland, Persson 5 (Tropp, Bowers), 7:36 (PP). Penalties-Henderson Wor (interference), 6:05; Conboy Por (fighting), 18:16; Mashinter Wor (fighting), 18:16.
2nd Period-3, Portland, Mancari 25 15:31 (SH). Penalties-Trevelyan Wor (delay of game), 2:45; Schiestel Por (interference), 13:42; Whitmore Por (hooking), 17:25; Conboy Por (fighting), 20:00; Cheechoo Wor (roughing), 20:00; Leach Wor (fighting), 20:00.
3rd Period-4, Worcester, Irwin 9 (Blight, Stalock), 6:31. 5, Worcester, Schaus 2 (Trevelyan, Wingels), 9:50 (PP). 6, Worcester, Leach 1 (Schaus), 12:17. 7, Worcester, Desjardins 7 (Henderson, Blight), 13:10. 8, Portland, Mancari 26 (Stuart, Adam), 19:32. Penalties-Irwin Wor (interference), 3:01; Legault Por (slashing), 7:23; Del Monte Wor (cross-checking), 7:23; Adam Por (hooking), 8:08; Legault Por (fighting), 9:35; Del Monte Wor (fighting), 9:35; Tropp Por (roughing), 10:22; DaSilva Wor (roughing), 10:22.
OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties
Shootout – Portland 2 (Tropp G, Gongalsky NG, Mancari NG, Adam G), Worcester 0 (Cheechoo NG, Trevelyan NG, MacIntyre NG, Wingels NG).
Shots on Goal-Portland 12-6-8-2-1-29. Worcester 5-14-14-3-0-36.
Power Play Opportunities-Portland 1/4; Worcester 1/3.
Goalies-Portland, Enroth 15-12-1 (36 shots-32 saves). Worcester, Stalock 17-17-4 (28 shots-24 saves).
Referee-Jeff Smith (49). Linesmen-Todd Whittemore (70), Chris Aughe (74).