The Worcester Sharks didn’t score any goals Sunday afternoon at the DCU Center, but thanks to netminder Alex Stalock they didn’t surrender any either and then were able to get the better of the Manchester Monarchs in the shootout to claim the franchise’s first 1-0 shootout victory. The win gave the WorSharks five out of a possible six points during their divisional three-in-three weekend and propelled Worcester back to the .500 mark.
After the last time these two teams met, a 5-1 loss by the WorSharks on October 27th in Manchester where the score could have been even more lopsided had the Monarchs not pulled their collective foot off the accelerator, and with Manchester again having the night off before while Worcester played it had all the makings of an ugly situation for Team Teal. But what the fans ended up seeing was one of the best hockey games ever played at the DCU Center, with Stalock and Monarchs goaltender Martin Jones matching each other save for save.
Worcester had the shots and territorial advantage in the first period, with Jones making great saves on bids by John McCarthy and Jon Matsumoto to keep the WorSharks off the board and Stalock making big saves on a couple of Manchester bids at the other end. The highlights of the opening period were a kick save that Sena Acolatse was forced to make when a bouncing puck found its way behind Stalock and was heading toward the far post, and a shift from Nick Petrecki that lasted nearly three minutes after the defenseman was unable to make a line change while on the penalty kill. It didn’t get better at even strength as the Monarchs pinned the WorSharks in their own zone for almost a minute after the power play ended. Worcester intentionally iced the puck just to call timeout to give Petrecki a breather.
Early in the second period Worcester tried to keep pace with Manchester in an up-and-down style game, but the Monarchs fresher legs appeared to start wearing down the WorSharks. But Worcester may have gotten a little bounce back in their step after Richard Clune decided to jab at Stalock’s previously injured leg. Stalock retaliated and, of course, earned a slashing minor while Clune got off Scott-free. For a while after special teams would rule as the squads alternated power plays, with the WorSharks even having a brief five on three advantage after Manchester was called for too many men twice in about 90 seconds.
The third period was just about all Worcester, with Jones having to make save after save as the WorSharks continued to buzz the Monarchs net looking for that important first goal. The low-light of the period was on one of the few Monarchs flurries of the period Petrecki went down with looked to be an upper body injury. He went to the locker room for a short time, and returned to the bench to eventually play one more shift. After that shift it was obvious Petrecki’s night was over.
Eventually the game went to the overtime period, but with all the chances and shots going to Worcester Jones again kept the goal light off as the teams headed to the shootout. Matsumoto, James Sheppard, and McCarthy connected to Worcester while Marc-Andre Cliche and Robert Czarnik tallied for Manchester. Alex Stalock sealed the victory with a save against Tyler Toffoli in the fifth round to give Worcester it’s first shootout win since Feb 11, 2012 at Hershey.
WorSharks scratches were Jimmy Bonneau, Taylor Doherty, Brandon Mashinter, Frazer McLaren (groin), Brodie Reid (shoulder), Mikael Tam (foot), and Marek Viedensky. Doherty was considered a healthy scratch, but was held out to make sure he didn’t re-aggravate his rib injury playing three games in under 48 hours. Harri Sateri was the back-up goaltender.
The game marked the second time this young season that Worcester faced an opponent that had the previous night off while the WorSharks played. Over the course of the season that stat will tilt in Worcester’s favor. They were originally scheduled by the AHL for that to happen four times, but the rescheduling of the October 21st contest with Providence to March will make that five times the situation occurs. But by season’s end Worcester will have teams in the position of playing while the WorSharks have the night off seven times. Although with New England weather either of those numbers can change with a snowstorm or two.
While the WorSharks and Monarchs were combining for no goals on 65 shots down in Hartford the Connecticut Whale and Springfield Falcons were combining for 12 goals on 65 shots in the Falcons 10-2 win. What an odd game this can be.
The three stars of the game were
1. WOR – 32 Alex Stalock (27 save shutout)
2. MCH – 31 Martin Jones (38 save shutout)
3. WOR – 7 John McCarthy (shootout game winner)
The Sharkspage player of the game was Nick Petrecki.
Manchester 0 0 0 0 – 0
Worcester 0 0 0 0 – 1
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Clune Mch (fighting), 4:25; Kearns Wor (fighting), 4:25; Petrecki Wor (roughing), 4:38; Andreoff Mch (fighting), 7:03; Gogol Wor (fighting, misconduct – continuing altercation), 7:03; Bodnarchuk Mch (tripping), 8:22; Matsumoto Wor (slashing), 16:10.
2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Stalock Wor (slashing), 8:46; Kozun Mch (holding the stick), 10:05; served by Kozun Mch (bench minor – too many men), 13:35; served by Meckler Mch (bench minor – too many men), 14:58; Sheppard Wor (tripping), 16:32; Andreoff Mch (high-sticking), 18:42.
3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Bodnarchuk Mch (hooking), 9:40; Voynov Mch (interference), 15:40.
OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties
Shootout – Manchester 2 (Prokhorkin NG, Vey NG, Cliche G, Czarnik G, Toffoli NG), Worcester 3 (Matsumoto G, Oleksuk NG, Sheppard G, McCarthy G).
Shots on Goal-Manchester 5-16-6-0-0-27. Worcester 9-8-18-3-1-39.
Power Play Opportunities-Manchester 0 / 4; Worcester 0 / 7.
Goalies-Manchester, Jones 5-2-1 (38 shots-38 saves). Worcester, Stalock 4-2-0 (27 shots-27 saves).
Referees-Graham Skilliter (48), Dave Lewis (46).
Linesmen-Brian MacDonald (72), Robert St. Lawrence (10).