The Worcester Sharks dug themselves a little bit of a hole early as they continued to have difficulty in lighting the lamp, but then the WorSharks exploded for three goals in the third period, including Freddie Hamilton’s first as a pro, to defeat the Portland Pirates 3-1 at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts Friday night.
The WorSharks were hoping to carry the momentum of earning five points last weekend into the contest against the Pirates Friday night to help avenge a 7-4 drubbing in October where Portland completely outplayed the WorSharks over the last 40 minutes of that game, but those hopes were dashed just 62 seconds into the opening period when Chris Brown took Andy Miele’s feed and spun a backhander past Worcester goaltender Alex Stalock for the 1-0 Pirates lead. It was certainly a shot that Stalock would want another chance at.
For the longest time it seemed like that goal might hold up as Pirates netminder Chad Johnson, who has always played the WorSharks tough and entered the game 7-2-1 against Worcester in his career, looked to be in his usual WorSharks-killer form making several nice saves early to keep Portland in the lead. Johnson was also aided by Worcester doing what it does far too often–making that one extra pass when they should be looking to shoot. Odd man rushes by Jon Matsumoto and Bracken Kearns and Kearns and John McCarthy each fell by the wayside because an extra pass was either deflected away or brought the players too close to the net for a good shot.
Worcester also wasn’t getting much luck on the shots it was taking, with bids by both Danny Groulx and Jimmy Bonneau finding the iron behind Johnson. The WorSharks did have a glimmer of hope entering the third period after two quick penalties on Portland gave Worcester an extended five on three skater advantage to start the third period. Head coach Roy Sommer put an odd line-up on the ice for that power play, using three defenseman–Groulx, Matt Tennyson, and Matt Irwin–with Kearns and Tim Kennedy as the lone forwards. The WorSharks ran a pretty well executed set play but Irwin’s blast went just wide of Johnson. In the ensuing play Kennedy picked up a rebound of a Tennyson shot and wheeled to the far side of the net drawing the defense, and then found Kearns all alone at the near post behind Johnson for the easy score at :46 of the third.
After not having a lead in a game for 138:30 of playing time, a streak going back to late in the second period against St. John’s on Saturday night, the WorSharks would get another one past Johnson when Hamilton put his own rebound over the netminder and just under the crossbar. The play began with Hamilton receiving a pass from Brandon Mashinter and, as occasionally rookies do, Hamilton held on to the puck just a split second too long allowing Johnson to square for the shot. After the save Hamilton didn’t give up on the play and grabbed the rebound and put it in at 8:36. James Livingston had the second assist.
Portland really took it to Worcester from that point and Stalock rose to the challenge, making several key saves to keep his squad in the lead. Late in the period with Johnson pulled for an extra attacker Matsumoto would show his experience by not taking a long range shot at the empty net but instead skating a few strides before firing off a wrister to put the game on ice for the WorSharks. James Sheppard had the lone assist on that tally as Stalock ran his personal winning streak to five starts as Worcester’s points streak also hit the five game mark.
Scratches for the WorSharks were Brodie Reid (shoulder), Nick Petrecki (arm), Frazer McLaren (groin), Mikael Tam (foot), Marek Viedensky, Daniil Tarasov, and Yanni Gourde. There was very little information pregame about Petrecki’s injury other than it was not expected to be a short term injury, and that it occurred when he blocked a shot and not when he fell tangled up with a Manchester player. Petrecki is wearing a cast on his right arm that starts just below the elbow and continues past his wrist and covers his pinkie and ring finger. A couple of things about the injury. His taking the Manchester player to the ice happened after he blocked the shot, meaning he continued his physical play after what appears to be breaking a bone in his arm. Oh, yeah…he played another shift after that too. Harri Sateri was the back-up netminder.
San Jose coach Todd McClellan was in the building for the game. It’s his first trip to Worcester since the exhibition games early in October.
Usually the visiting team’s bus beats this writer to the DCU Center by a good half hour or more as they try to make it at least two hours before puck drop, but due to heavy traffic Friday the Portland bus didn’t arrive until just after 6pm local time, or just 90 minutes prior to the scheduled starting time. The game went off on time and the Pirates looked no worse for wear.
There were some issues with “SharksVision” Friday, and the lower portion of the video board that displays the score, game time, and penalty times was not operational. There are two corner scoreboards at the DCU Center that were working, and PA announcer George Brown called out remaining penalty times as the clock wound down after being reminded to do so after the game’s first penalty. Repairs to the computer system were ongoing, and it was “temporarily working” for the third period. It was expected that permanent repairs would be completed by Saturday’s game.
As reported by old friend Chris Roy of the Maine Hockey Journal, Bracken Kearns’ goal ended Chad Johnson’s shutout streak at 113 minutes, 54 seconds, which is the longest shutout streak by a Pirates’ goaltender since David Leggio held a shutout for 122 minutes, 45 seconds from March 26, 2011 – March 30, 2011.
The three stars of the game were
1. WOR – 12 Freddie Hamilton (gwg)
2. WOR – 16 Bracken Kearns (g)
3. WOR – 32 Alex Stalock (25 saves)
For his handful of bone crunching hits the Sharkspage player of the game was Matt Pelech.
Portland 1 0 0 – 1
Worcester 0 0 3 – 3
1st Period-1, Portland, Brown 3 (Miele, Conner), 1:02. Penalties-Louis Por (roughing, fighting), 1:38; Mashinter Wor (fighting), 1:38; Rechlicz Por (fighting), 5:22; Bonneau Wor (fighting), 5:22; Szwarz Por (unsportsmanlike conduct), 7:06; Gogol Wor (unsportsmanlike conduct), 7:06; Sheppard Wor (slashing), 7:06; Rechlicz Por (misconduct – unsportsmanlike conduct), 10:22; Brown Por (boarding), 10:58; Pelech Wor (cross-checking), 13:50; Bolduc Por (cross-checking), 17:35.
2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Shinnimin Por (slashing), 3:24; Acolatse Wor (cross-checking), 3:24; Acolatse Wor (high-sticking), 15:22; Brown Por (holding), 19:26; Hextall Por (elbowing), 19:55.
3rd Period-2, Worcester, Kearns 4 (Kennedy, Tennyson), 0:46 (PP). 3, Worcester, Hamilton 1 (Mashinter, Livingston), 8:36. 4, Worcester, Matsumoto 3 (Sheppard), 19:21 (EN). Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Portland 6-11-9-26. Worcester 13-7-13-33.
Power Play Opportunities-Portland 0 / 3; Worcester 1 / 5.
Goalies-Portland, Johnson 3-4-0 (32 shots-30 saves). Worcester, Stalock 5-2-0 (26 shots-25 saves).
Referees-Keith Kaval (40).
Linesmen-Ed Boyle (81), Todd Whittemore (70).