WorSharks steal a point in 4-3 shootout loss to Springfield

By Darryl Hunt - Last updated: Saturday, January 7, 2012 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

The Worcester Sharks traveled an hour west down the Mass Turnpike and played a see-saw contest with the Springfield Falcons, battling back from two one goal deficits and losing a lead of their own before ultimately losing a 4-3 shootout decision Friday night at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts in front of a crowd of 3,433 that was heavily littered with WorSharks fans.

As has been a problem far too often for the WorSharks this season the team came out of the gate very slowly and were it not for goaltender Tyson Sexsmith the game would have been way out of hand early. In the team’s early power play opportunity the WorSharks didn’t register a single shot on goal and the Falcons had two, one of them a breakaway chance by Dane Byers that Sexsmith was able to flash a pad out to make the save on. The WorSharks were much better when shorthanded, killing all three of Springfield’s man advantages.

Despite his great play two shots made it past Sexsmith and lit the lamp, but luckily for Worcester only one of those two times counted on the board. At 16:50 of the period Aaron Bogosian blasted one past the netminder that rang off the iron as the goal light went on and the Falcons fans began to celebrate. Referee Keith Kaval correctly ruled the puck didn’t enter the goal, but inexplicably stopped play while Worcester was in possession of the puck as play continued. Cam Atkinson made sure the second time counted when he out-muscled defenseman Mike Moore and broke in alone on Sexsmith at 18:34.

The second period started out a lot like the opening stanza with Sexsmith being called upon very early to make some big saves, but eventually the WorSharks got into the flow of the game and picked up the pace in the second period. This time it was Falcons netminder Manny Legace that kept his team in the game, making several nice stops to keep the WorSharks at bay. Like Springfield in the opening period the WorSharks would light the lamp twice in the second period, but in their case both tallies counted.

The first came at 15:04 on the power play after Referee Kaval gave Chad Costello two minutes for goaltender interference and this writer gave Sexsmith 9.3 on the dive when on one of the rare occasions the WorSharks showed any continuity with the man advantage. Worcester had a couple nice chances that Legace turned aside, and as the pucked ended up on the stick of Matt Irwin at the blue line the defenseman wristed a shot on goal that John McCarthy was able to get a piece of and deflected into the net. Jack Combs ios listed as having the second assist on the goal.

Sixty-four second later the WorSharks would grab a 2-1 lead on an even strength goal that looked a lot like their first tally when again the puck ended up on the stick of Irwin high in the slot. His blast tipped off of Brodie Reid and past Legace at 16:08, with an assist listed to Mike Connolly.

It looked like the WorSharks would end the period with the lead only to see the Falcons light the lamp to make the game even with 5.6 seconds remaining, but after some discussion between the linesmen and Referee Kaval the breakaway goal was disallowed as the officials ruled that Matt Calvert knocked the puck into the net with his glove after being slashed by Matt Pelech. From this writer’s perch significantly closer to the action than the first disallowed goal it looked like it should have counted.

Worcester would have some penalty trouble early in the third period after Pelech’s crossover minor ended when they were called for two very borderline penalties that resulted with the team skating down two players for 23 seconds. Sexsmith kept his team in the lead for most of that stretch but after a couple nice saves couldn’t control the rebound of Tomas Kubalik’s shot and Atkinson was there at 5:34 to knot the score. The Falcons would take a 3-2 lead at 14:51 on a play that looked a lot like the WorSharks goals when Calvert tipped a blast by Byers past Sexsmith.

The WorSharks would get a late power play and had a golden chance to get back to even when Irwin found himself all alone about 15 feet in front of Legace, but his blast went well wide of the goal. Worcester then skated six on four for a brief time but couldn’t generate a significant scoring chance. The WorSharks would finally get a quality shot on goal in the last minute when a bouncing puck ended up on the stick of Sean Sullivan. The defenseman corralled it and fired it on net, and the fluttering shot fooled Legace enough to get it past him to make it 3-3 with just over 40 seconds to go in regulation.

Reid picked the absolute worst time to be called for his second minor of the season when he was whistled for an automatic delay of game minor in overtime for flipping the puck over the glass in his defensive end, but the WorSharks and Sexsmith stood firm during the four on three play. And they had to stand a little firmer when Sena Acolatse lost his stick with about 30 seconds remaining on the penalty kill, but the rookie defender showed the poise of a seasoned veteran by twice laying on the ice to the left of Sexsmith to block any chance of a cross slot pass. At one point he actually crawled along the ice trying to gather a loose puck to glove it out of the zone.

In a play that likely kept Worcester in the game Reid charged out of the penalty box when his minor was over and immediately handed his stick off to Acolatse, and then while stickless blocked a booming shot from the point that was about to head into traffic in front of Sexsmith. The game eventually went to a shootout, which is something the WorSharks are absolutely terrible at, and Friday night was no exception as Worcester would go scoreless in four attempts to lose the game 4-3.

As if there’s anyone that hasn’t heard, the Worcester Shuttle made a stop in the Bay State to pick up Tommy Wingels. Cam MacIntyre, Ben Guite, Brian O’Hanley, Tony Lucia, and Curt Gogol did not dress for Worcester. O’Hanley was the only healthy scratch. Sena Acolatse skated up front for most of the game as the WorSharks have extra defensemen and not enough healthy forwards, but the rookie defenseman was forced to go back to the blue line as Mike Moore, who had take a shot to the face earlier, went off to the dressing room in the third period with an as of yet disclosed injury. Harri Sateri was the back-up netminder.

To take Wingels spot in the line-up the WorSharks dipped into the Central Hockey League and grabbed Alex Bourret. The former first round draft pick (Atlanta 2005, #16 overall) has AHL experience, and certainly has the speed to play at this level. His only appearance in the boxscore is a two minute minor for high sticking, a penalty call so bad that even Falcons fans were laughing about it between periods. And speaking of boxscores, whoever is the official scorer in Springfield needs to pay a tad more attention. All three WorSharks goals were–or still are–listed incorrectly.

One streak that looked like it was going to end was the WorSharks getting into a fight for 18 games in a row. Despite some pretty good hits the game really didn’t have any altercations that looked like they would break into a bout, so it was a surprise when Sean Sullivan and Cam Atkinson dropped the mitts with 30 seconds left on overtime. The only noteworthy thing about the battle was it extended the streak to 19 games, much to the excitement of Worcester broadcaster Eric Lindquist.

The MassMutual Center in Springfield is my favorite place on the road to see a game, and it’s the only arena I intentionally sit high in a corner to view the game from. The sightlines from there are some of the best in the AHL. The building also has some of the best food in the league and they’ve even added some great new things this season. WorSharks fans will be happy to know they’ll be able to make trips out to Springfield for the next two seasons as earlier in the week the Falcons announced they signed a new lease at the MassMutual Center for a minimum of two more seasons and have extended their affiliation agreement with Columbus thru the 2013-2014 campaign.

The three stars of the game were:
1. SPR – Atkinson
2. WOR – Irwin
3. SPR – Calvert

No stats mentioned for them because who the heck knows if they’re right or not.

The Sharkspage player of the game is Sean Sullivan, who when all the potential corrections are made might end up with a Gordie Howe hat trick.


Worcester 0 2 1 0 – 3
Springfield 1 0 2 0 – 4

1st Period-1, Springfield, Atkinson 16 (Giroux, Legace), 18:34. Penalties-St. Pierre Spr (hooking), 4:23; Mashinter Wor (roughing), 6:30; Acolatse Wor (high-sticking), 9:18; Doherty Wor (hooking), 13:42.

2nd Period-2, Worcester, McCarthy 9 (Irwin, Combs), 15:04 (PP). 3, Worcester, Irwin 8 (Reid, Connolly), 16:08. Penalties-Bourret Wor (high-sticking), 5:04; Garlock Spr (hooking), 8:39; Costello Spr (goaltender interference), 14:13; Pelech Wor (slashing), 19:54.

3rd Period-4, Springfield, Atkinson 17 (Kubalik, Regner), 5:34 (PP). 5, Springfield, Calvert 4 (Byers), 14:51. 6, Worcester, Combs 6 19:19. Penalties-Combs Wor (kneeing), 3:27; Del Monte Wor (roughing), 5:04; Prout Spr (delay of game), 6:56; Kubalik Spr (holding), 17:12.

OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Reid Wor (delay of game), 1:52; Sullivan Wor (fighting), 4:30; Atkinson Spr (fighting), 4:30.

Shootout – Worcester 0 (Combs NG, Connolly NG, Mashinter NG, McCarthy NG), Springfield 2 (Regner NG, Giroux NG, Atkinson G, Kubalik G).
Shots on Goal-Worcester 4-15-8-2-0-29. Springfield 13-7-10-7-1-38.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 1 / 5; Springfield 1 / 8.
Goalies-Worcester, Sexsmith 8-6-4 (37 shots-34 saves). Springfield, Legace 8-11-1 (29 shots-26 saves).
Referees-Keith Kaval (40).
Linesmen-Kevin Redding (16), Brent Colby (7).

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