The Worcester Sharks are needing to all win their remaining games and get a lot of help to make the AHL’s Calder Cup playoffs, and behind Harri Sateri’s 49 saves and two power play goals from Sena Acolatse they took a baby step in the right direction by beating the Manchester Monarchs 4-1 Tuesday night at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts.
After a post game brawl in Portland on Saturday against the Pirates that led to suspensions to Jimmy Bonneau (8 games), Matt Pelech (4 games) and assistant coach David Cunniff (1 game) the last thing WorSharks fans were expecting to see was a pregame fight break out against Manchester, but those arriving late missed all the fireworks when Manchester’s Richard Clune started an incident with Frazer McLaren that lead to all 40 players gathering at the center red line and McLaren and Justin Johnson throwing bombs at each other. Worcester head coach Roy Sommer walked across the ice and went straight through the pile as players on both sides quickly separated in his wake. There was a brief flare up and Curt Gogol got involved, but with the help of the linesmen–dressed mostly in street clothes, no less–order was soon restored and the warm-up period ended.
Justice was handed out quickly by the AHL, and just prior to the posting of this article the AHL suspended both McLaren and Johnson three games, and Clune and Gogol got one game each.
The game itself was fairly quiet, with neither team really looking all that interested in reigniting the earlier battle. The WorSharks would have the only goal in the first 40 minutes when Sebastian Stalberg took a feed from Tony Lucia at 5:26 of the opening period and beat Monarchs goaltender Jeff Zatkoff over the shoulder from the right circle with an incredible shot. All three of Stalberg’s goals this season have been high quality tallies as he continues the scoring prowess he showed this season at the University of Vermont. Mike Moore had the second assist.
The real story of the game was Worcester netminder Harri Sateri, who did everything in the first 54 minutes of the game except resurface the ice. Sateri made save after save, and many of the 30 he made in the first two periods were against high quality attempts. But with a little help from his defense keeping the Monarchs away from any rebounds, and from Brian O’Hanley making a save behind him, Sateri was able to keep the WorSharks in the lead.
WorSharks fans have seen the team lose far too many third period leads of late, so when Sena Acolatse fired an absolute laser from 50 feet out at the left point at 14:51 on the power play, assisted by Ben Guite and Nathan Moon, a few sighs of relief were mixed into the loud cheers for the defenseman’s goal. At 17:05 Worcester fans got that sick feeling in their stomach again when David Meckler beat Sateri on Manchester’s 48th shot of the game when he poked a lose puck into the net on a power play chance of their own.
Acolatse would again connect with another power play goal, this one being almost an exact mirror image of his first with a 50 foot blast from the right point. Moon and Moore had the assists on the goal. Manchester would pull Zatkoff for an extra attacker, but the Monarchs couldn’t get anything going. Guite put the icing on the cake at 19:49 to give the WorSharks 24 more hours of hope.
Over the last couple of days the WorSharks have signed defenseman Dylan Demelo and forward Yanni Gourde to amateur tryout contracts. Both were pressed into service as Worcester was shorthanded after the suspensions. Tyson Sexsmith, Brodie Reid, Jimmy Bonneau, Cam MacIntyre, Taylor Doherty, Ryan Del Monte, James Livingston, Matt Pelech, and Marek Viedensky all did not dress for Worcester. With Frazer McLaren and Curt Gogol now being unavailable Worcester will likely need to sign some additional forwards to fill out their game roster.
With assistant coach David Cunniff suspended for a game San Jose Sharks goaltender development coach Corey Schwab filled in as assistant coach with Roy Sommer.
The AHL’s vice-president of hockey operations, Mike Murray, was in attendance at the game but did not answer any questions about the Portland suspensions. He indicated all inquiries should be made to the AHL’s PR department. Sharkspage has sent several questions to the AHL’s public relations department over the years and have never gotten an answer on any of them, so it’s unlikely any explanation will ever be found out.
Word from both the WorSharks and Monarchs was the AHL did admit an error was made Saturday night in Portland and Brett Sterling was not eligible to participate in the shootout. Manchester was more angry at the episode that Worcester was as the Monarchs are being chased by the Pirates in the playoff race. Sources told Sharkspage that referee Mark Lemelin, who was one of the two referees assigned to last night’s game, has been reprimanded, although the source did not know what that reprimand entailed.
The three stars of the game were
1. WOR – Sateri (49 saves)
2. WOR – Acolatse (2g)
3. WOR – Stalberg (g)
Harri Sateri was also named the AHL’s #1 Star of the Night
The Sharkspage player of the game was Ben Guite.
Manchester 0 0 1 – 1
Worcester 1 0 3 – 4
1st Period-1, Worcester, Stalberg 3 (Lucia, Moore), 5:26. Penalties-Andreoff Mch (interference), 6:50; Hickey Mch (elbowing), 14:48; O’Neill Mch (hooking), 18:33.
2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Lucia Wor (hooking), 7:02; Acolatse Wor (tripping), 12:32; Gogol Wor (holding), 14:39; Guite Wor (boarding), 17:34.
3rd Period-2, Worcester, Acolatse 7 (Guite, Moon), 14:51 (PP). 3, Manchester, Meckler 10 (Mullen, Vey), 17:05 (PP). 4, Worcester, Acolatse 8 (Moon, Moore), 18:35 (PP). 5, Worcester, Guite 3 19:49 (EN). Penalties-Kolomatis Mch (high-sticking), 14:31; Lucia Wor (tripping), 15:31; Andreoff Mch (interference), 17:15.
Shots on Goal-Manchester 15-15-20-50. Worcester 12-11-10-33.
Power Play Opportunities-Manchester 1 / 5; Worcester 2 / 5.
Goalies-Manchester, Zatkoff 20-17-1 (32 shots-29 saves). Worcester, Sateri 14-19-1 (50 shots-49 saves).
Referees-Terry Koharski (10), Mark Lemelin (41).
Linesmen-Brian MacDonald (72), Todd Whittemore (70).