The Worcester Sharks ended the final weekend of the regular season on an up note as amateur try-out player Yanni Gourde scored his first professional goal and assisted on both other WorSharks tallies during a 3-2 victory over the Hershey Bears Sunday afternoon at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts in front of 5,810 fans.
With neither team playing for anything other than pride–the WorSharks were out of the Calder Cup playoff race and the Bears had their spot in the standings secured–fans were unsure of what type of game they would be in store for. Those in attendance, including a couple of busloads from Hershey, saw a spirited contest full of young players on both teams fighting hard for potential roster slots next season. They also some some great goaltending, with Worcester’s Harri Sateri and the Bears Scott Greenham combining to make 66 saves on 71 shots.
The first goal of the game went to the Bears after a WorSharks turnover deep in their own end. Hershey center Mike Carman grabbed the loose puck at the halfboards to the right of Sateri and threw a nice pass to former Boston College standout Barry Almeida between the circles. Almeida, playing his first game for Hershey, snapped off a one-timer that lit the lamp at 2:57 of the opening period.
Worcester got the equalizer at 8:12 after a great shift where they had a few good attempts turned aside by Greenham. After keeping the pressure on in the Bears zone Matt Irwin had a good look at the net from in close, but Greenham made the save. The Hershey defense whiffed at clearing the rebound away and the puck slid right to Gourde high between the circles. Gourde, the leading point getter in the QMJHL this season, did what a goal scorer does and almost shot the puck through the back of the net with a laser Greenham had no chance at all on. Ben Guite had the second assist on the goal.
Unfortunately for the WorSharks it took Hershey just 12 seconds to retake the lead as all five Worcester skaters stood around and watched as former IceCats forward D.J. King grabbed a loose puck behind the goal line and centered it to Garrett Mitchell. The winger misfired on his shot but the puck rolled right on the stick of Andrew Carroll, who beat Sateri for his first goal of the season.
Hershey’s first two penalties of the game were both nearly the exact play with a Hershey defenseman hooking Gourde as he broke into the Bears zone on a partial breakaway. The first was to Tomas Kundratek midway through the opening period that Hershey’s top five penalty kill had little trouble with, and the second was late in the period to Cameron Schilling that eliminated a Bears power play and put the teams at four skaters apiece. Worcester would get an abbreviated power play early in the second period because of the penalty, and Irwin and Gourde would hook up again to tie the score. This time it was a Gourde pass to Irwin at the top of the left circle that set up the goal, with Irwin’s shot ringing off the far post and into the net at 49 seconds of the second period. Matt Tennyson grabbed the second assist.
Gourde would again figure heavily on the WorSharks third goal when he grabbed a loose puck after a bad Hershey clearing attempt and flipped the puck on net. John McCarthy got a piece of it in front of the Bears net but Tim Kennedy got most of it and banged it home at 13:30 of the middle period. Both Sateri and Greenham stood tall in the third period with each making great saves to keep the score 3-2, and after surviving a last push by Hershey with the goaltender pulled the WorSharks would make it to the final horn with the lead to earn the victory.
Things got a little scary after the game when former WorSharks captain Graham Mink, apparently angered with referee Marcus Vinnerborg, broke his stick in the visitor’s players tunnel and threw the shaft of the stick back on to the ice towards the officials. Fans sitting in section 109 of the DCU Center ducked for cover as the stick went flying in their direction before hitting the boards on the fly. The stick was recovered, although immediately after the game the WorSharks were unsure if the incident was captured on video.
Taylor Doherty, Tyson Sexsmith, Brodie Reid, Jimmy Bonneau, Cam MacIntyre, Ryan Del Monte, James Livingston, Matt Pelech, Marek Viedensky, Frazer McLaren, and Jay Silvia all did not dress for Worcester.
The three stars of the game were
1. WOR – Gourde (g,2a)
2. WOR – Irwin (g,a)
3. HER – Carroll (g)
The Sharkspage player of the game Matt Tennyson.
Hershey 2 0 0 – 2
Worcester 1 2 0 – 3
1st Period-1, Hershey, Almeida 1 (Carman), 2:57. 2, Worcester, Gourde 1 (Irwin, Guite), 8:12. 3, Hershey, Carroll 1 (Mitchell, King), 8:24. Penalties-Kundratek Her (hooking), 10:23; Gogol Wor (high-sticking), 18:16; Schilling Her (hooking), 19:49.
2nd Period-4, Worcester, Irwin 11 (Gourde, Tennyson), 0:49 (PP). 5, Worcester, Kennedy 13 (Gourde, McCarthy), 13:30. Penalties-Mink Her (elbowing), 17:07.
3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Civitarese Her (high-sticking), 13:11.
Shots on Goal-Hershey 14-13-9-36. Worcester 9-17-9-35.
Power Play Opportunities-Hershey 0 / 1; Worcester 1 / 4.
Goalies-Hershey, Greenham 0-3-0 (35 shots-32 saves). Worcester, Sateri 15-20-1 (36 shots-34 saves).
Referees-Marcus Vinnerborg (45).
Linesmen-Matt MacPherson (83), Ed Boyle (81).