WorSharks look Niitty in 5-1 win in Albany

By Darryl Hunt - Last updated: Saturday, December 17, 2011 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment


The Worcester Sharks season long seven game road trip meandered its way into the Empire State where the WorSharks found themselves down early, but as quick as you could say “never give up” they were back to even and eventually scored five unanswered goals to defeat the Albany Devils 5-1 Friday night at the Times Union Center in Albany, New York in front of a crowd generously announced at 2,570.

With Antero Niittymaki down from San Jose on a conditioning loan the last thing WorSharks fans were expecting was for the team to fall behind early, but that’s what happened when old friend Steven Zalewski connected on Albany’s first shot on goal. The play began with a blast from the point that struck Devils center Stephen Gionta. Winger Joe Whitney collected the loose puck and pushed it on net as Niittymaki dove across to make the save, but the bid was wide and hit off the side of the net. Whitney chased the puck down behind the goal line and found Zalewski in the slot with a pass. Worcester’s third line was caught standing around and Zalewski was able to hit the yawning net before Niittymaki could get back into position at 1:16 of the opening period.

It would take just 13 seconds for the WorSharks to get back to even, and the goal came from an unlikely source when Nick Petrecki threw a nice pass diagonally through the neutral zone to Brodie Reid rushing down the right wing side. Reid entered the zone and threw a centering feed that neither Nathan Moon nor Devils defenseman Brandon Burlon could get to. The puck ended up on newcomer Jack Combs’ stick, and the leading scorer in the ECHL playing in his first game for Worcester under a PTO deked Albany goaltender Keith Kinkaid twice before beating him to the far post just before he crashed into the net ripping off its pegs.

Reid had a golden chance to get the WorSharks the lead about seven minutes into the period when he was all alone in the slot, but his bid was turned aside by Kinkaid. Reid would be involved in the goal that would give the WorSharks the lead for good when he left a drop pass for Moon in the slot. Moon found Combs rushing toward the net to his left and threw the perfect pass right on his stick. Combs beat Kinkaid to the blocker side at 15:10. Worcester outshot the Devils 16-6 in the period.

Early in the middle stanza Stephane Veilleux tried to light a fire under the Devils by taking a run at Tommy Wingels and then taking on Sena Acolatse in a fight, and that did add some spirit to Albany’s game. Worcester was unable to score on Veilleux’s additional minor penalty, and then killed off a Moon minor for interference. The best bid of the four minutes was when the WorSharks hit Moon coming out of the penalty box, but his double deke of Kinkaid wasn’t good enough as the netminder made a stellar pad save on the bid. Later in the period Gionta threw a shot that handcuffed Niittymaki and broke toward the goal line, but Petrecki was there to sweep it away.

The WorSharks weathered that early storm by the Devils the best way a team can–they increased their lead. After being quiet for the early part of the game Worcester’s top line finally came to life after a turnover deep in the Albany zone. John McCarthy picked off a clearing attempt by Eric Gelinas and fired a pass to Wingels from the left wing corner to the slot. Wingels blast through traffic beat Kinkaid high to light the lamp at 11:22.

Worcester would make it 4-1 on a great individual effort by Mike Moore. The defenseman, returning to action after missing 12 games with a concussion, raced down the left wing side coast to coast but couldn’t jam the puck past Kinkaid. Marek Viedensky was trailing the play and was there to put the rebound in at 14:45. WorSharks enforcer Jimmy Bonneau had the second assist on the play. Taylor Doherty had a key defensive play in his own zone that helped send the puck out of the zone.

Wingels would grab his second marker of the game at 3:39 of the third period on sort of an “accidental” goal when Sena Acolatse batted at a puck at the Albany blue line to keep the it in the zone and Wingels deflected it past Kinkaid to make it 5-1. Benn Ferriero had the second assist on the goal. Both Wingels and Combs would have chances for the hat trick but neither could light the lamp again.

GAME NOTES
Earlier this week the WorSharks signed Jack Combs to a PTO as they only had 11 healthy forwards. Scratches for Worcester were Mike Connolly (lower body), Ben Guite (concussion), Cam MacIntyre (unknown), Brandon Mashinter (concussion), Brian O’Hanley (healthy), and Harri Sateri (healthy). Tyson Sexsmith was the back-up netminder.

Antero Niittymaki, who hasn’t played in a game since April 23, looked very good in goal for the WorSharks. His biggest issue wasn’t rust, it was he was reacting far faster than the shots are coming in. He’s literally too good for AHL, and early on when he wasn’t seeing many shots had a hard time slowing his reactions to match the less talented forwards he was facing. As was expected he returned to Worcester after the game and will rejoin the team Sunday in Manchester. The team bus left for Binghamton right after the game.

Jack Combs goal 13 seconds into his first shift is the fastest a WorSharks player has ever scored in his first game with the team. He also became just the second player to score two goals in his team debut, joining Cory Larose. In an oddity, Larose also did it against the Devils, but the team was based in Lowell at the time.

Every skater for the WorSharks had a shot on goal. Combs led the team with 5 attempts.

Benn Ferriero (3g,3a), John McCarthy (g,6a), and Tommy Wingels (6g,a) all have a four game point streak. Tony Lucia’s six game scoring streak came to an end.

The three stars of the game were
1. WOR – Combs (2g)
2. WOR – Wingels (2g)
3. WOR – Niittymaki (26 saves)

The Sharkspage player of the game was Brodie Reid.

Even strength lines
McCarthy/Ferriero/Wingels
Combs/Moon/Reid
Lucia/Del Monte/Livingston
Gogol/Viedensky/Bonneau

Moore/Doherty
Sullivan/Acolatse
Petrecki/Pelech

BOXSCORE

Worcester 2 2 1 – 5
Albany 1 0 0 – 1

1st Period-1, Albany, Zalewski 8 (Whitney, Sova), 1:16. 2, Worcester, Combs 1 (Reid, Petrecki), 1:29. 3, Worcester, Combs 2 (Moon, Reid), 15:10. Penalties-No Penalties

2nd Period-4, Worcester, Wingels 9 (McCarthy), 11:22. 5, Worcester, Viedensky 2 (Moore, Bonneau), 14:45. Penalties-Acolatse Wor (fighting), 0:20; Veilleux Alb (interference, fighting), 0:20; Moon Wor (interference), 2:34.

3rd Period-6, Worcester, Wingels 10 (Acolatse, Ferriero), 3:39. Penalties-Anderson Alb (double minor – high-sticking), 12:37.

Shots on Goal-Worcester 16-10-12-38. Albany 6-13-8-27.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 0 / 3; Albany 0 / 1.
Goalies-Worcester, Niittymaki 1-0-0 (27 shots-26 saves). Albany, Kinkaid 7-6-0 (38 shots-33 saves).
A-2,570
Referees-Jamie Koharski (84).
Linesmen-Marty Demers (79), Jim Harper (59).

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