The Worcester Sharks drove an hour west down the Massachusetts Turnpike to take on the Springfield Falcons with a couple of players that haven’t been around in some time, and while John McCarthy was held off the scoresheet returning goaltender Alex Stalock looked like he hadn’t missed a beat and made the WorSharks two first period goals stand up in a 2-1 win Sunday afternoon at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts in front of a crowd of 3,888.
After two bad losses in a row the WorSharks came flying out of the gate with the intent of playing all 60 minutes and not giving up any good scoring chances. For the most part, they accomplished both tasks. Early in the opening period Worcester was all over the Falcons, but has been the case too often this season they couldn’t put one into the net. Andrew Murray would beat Falcons netminder Manny Legace in the opening minutes, but his shot rang hard off the near post and bounced away harmlessly.
Murray would get his revenge a little later when he took a feed from Marek Viedensky into the Springfield zone and unleashed a booming shot from the top of the left wing circle that somehow snuck under Legace and into the net 7:56. Brain O’Hanley had the second assist on the goal. Worcester would have three power play chances, including 36 seconds of five on three play, to increase their lead but couldn’t generate any real offensive pressure.
Murray, along with linemates Ryan Del Monte and James Livingston, had an incredible shift later in the first period where they kept the Falcons hemmed into their own zone for over a full minute as they blocked several clearing attempts and controlled play along the boards. The one clear they didn’t gain control of was picked off at the left point by Nick Petrecki, who fired it back on net. The puck banked in off a Falcons player and past Legace at 17:46 for a goal that says unassisted on the scoresheet but was the direct result of the play of the forwards in front of him.
Worcester then had to kill five consecutive minor penalties running from the end of the first period through the middle of the second stanza. Springfield would get a two man advantage of their own when the WorSharks were called for two very borderline minors in quick succession, and a broken play while skating five on three would get the Falcons within a goal. After a couple nice saves by Stalock Alexandre Giroux fired one into traffic that bounced around until it reached Dane Byers all alone in front of a yawning net at 9:53. Springfield continued to pressure the WorSharks in the remainder of the middle period, but the Worcester defense did a great job of keeping the play along the outside and away from Stalock.
After blowing two third period leads in a row the WorSharks did everything they could to make certain that wasn’t going to happen a third time, and clamped down on the Falcons offense limiting them to just two shots on goal in the period with nonstop forechecking and hard physical play. The Falcons best chance was when Giroux was inexplicably awarded a penalty shot for being hooked down from behind despite not being in possession of the puck. The hockey gods were on the side of the WorSharks as Giroux fired his attempt wide of the goal.
The WorSharks hard play continued, and forced Legace to stay in the net for significantly longer than the Falcons would have liked. When he finally was lifted for an extra attacker Worcester calmly held the puck along the boards and out of harm’s way to win Stalock’s return game. But before the team could celebrate Matt Pelech and Byers dropped the gloves right outside the crease as all the players matched up. Cooler heads prevailed around them as Pelech and Byers exchanged blows, and after the battle Stalock’s ear to ear grin could clearly be seen under his mask.
Worcester’s scratches were Ben Guite (concussion), Tony Lucia (concussion), Sena Acolatse (facial injury), Frazer McLaren (groin), Curt Gogol (concussion), Cam MacIntyre (concussion), Ian O’Connor (healthy) and Harri Sateri (healthy). Tyson Sexsmith was the back-up netminder.
The goal by Nick Petrecki was his first since November 26, 2010 (95 games). He doesn’t score many but when he does they really count, as his last three goals have all been game winners.
Worcester’s next game is Tuesday night, where they will take on Antero Niittymaki and the Syracuse Crunch. The WorSharks will head to Syracuse Monday afternoon for what will be their last overnight stay of the regular season.
The three stars of the game were
1. WOR – Murray (g,+2)
2. WOR – Petrecki (gwg)
3. SPR – Legace (27 saves)
As if there was any doubt, the Sharkspage player of the game is Alex Stalock.
Worcester 2 0 0 – 2
Springfield 0 1 0 – 1
1st Period-1, Worcester, Murray 2 (Viedensky, O’Hanley), 7:56. 2, Worcester, Petrecki 1 17:46. Penalties-Cullity Spr (elbowing), 8:22; Amadio Spr (cross-checking), 9:46; Kubalik Spr (hooking), 14:18; Doherty Wor (high-sticking), 18:40.
2nd Period-3, Springfield, Byers 13 (Giroux, Atkinson), 9:35 (PP). Penalties-Irwin Wor (delay of game), 2:42; served by Combs Wor (bench minor – too many men), 5:16; Connolly Wor (interference), 8:56; Kennedy Wor (cross-checking), 9:23; Garlock Spr (holding), 12:55.
3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Bonneau Wor (delay of game), 8:06; Mair Spr (goaltender interference), 14:31; Pelech Wor (cross-checking, fighting), 20:00; Byers Spr (roughing, fighting), 20:00.
Shots on Goal-Worcester 12-6-11-29. Springfield 4-10-2-16.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 0 / 5; Springfield 1 / 6.
Goalies-Worcester, Stalock 1-0-0 (16 shots-15 saves). Springfield, Legace 11-17-1 (29 shots-27 saves).
Referees-Chris Ciamaga (24), Tim Mayer (19).
Linesmen-Glen Cooke (6), Rich Patry (52).