The Worcester Sharks defeated the Portland Pirates 4-2 Wednesday night at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, Maine and found themselves in first place in the American Hockey League’s Atlantic Division at the end of the night for the first time since April 11, 2010.
The bad habit the WorSharks have gotten into lately of giving up goals early in games–and worse, on the opponent’s first shot on goal–continued against Portland when a bad bounce allowed Rob Klinkhammer to break in down the far side. It all began when Bracken Kearns’ shot beat Pirates goaltender Mark Visentin but rang off the near post. The puck bounded to the point right toward Sena Acolatse, but the defenseman fell allowing Klinkhammer to gather the puck and break out of the zone. Klinkhammer fired a wrist shot on Worcester netminder Alex Stalock that Stalock misplayed and the puck ended up in the net just 68 seconds into the contest.
The WorSharks wouldn’t be trailing for long when they converted on their first power play chance of the game. Sebastian Stalberg, who has been struggling as of late, scored his first goal in seven games when he took a feed from Matt Tennyson and blasted a one-timer past Visentin at 3:37. Tennyson faked like he was going to blast one on net but instead threw a nice pass to the slot to a wide open Stalberg in the left wing circle. Matt Irwin had the second assist on the goal.
Klinkhammer would strike again for the only goal in the middle stanza when he and Brendan Shinnimin to break into the Worcester zone two on one against Danny Groulx. Shinnimin simply out-waited both Groulx and Stalock before throwing a pass to Klinkhammer at 8:27 for the 2-1 Portland lead.
Despite the large number of NHL players in the AHL due to the lockout the WorSharks only have one player they can point to and say he’s here just because of the labor issue, and that’s James Sheppard. After missing a couple of seasons because of injuries Sheppard is showing he is back near 100%, and if there was any doubts of that Sheppard erased them with one play in the third period that got Worcester back to even. Sheppard took a Yanni Gourde feed and skated through the neutral zone into the Pirates zone. Defenseman Maxim Goncharov bumped Sheppard off the puck, but in one motion Sheppard regained the puck and fired a hard wrist shot that beat Visentin clean at 11:05 of the third. Groulx was credited with the second helper.
Tim Kennedy would give Worcester the lead on what looked like a harmless play at the Pirates blue line. Kearns had carried the puck into the Portland zone and then slid an easy pass over to Kennedy. Instead of carrying it deeper Kennedy wound up and blasted the puck by Visentin at 12:13. Acolatse also picked up an assist on the play. Stalock and the WorSharks made that goal stand up, including having to kill off a minor to Irwin as time wound down, but the defenseman made amends by notching an empty net goal with 7.5 seconds remaining to ice the contest.
Scratches for the WorSharks were Brodie Reid (shoulder), Frazer McLaren (groin), Jon Matsumoto (undisclosed injury), Daniil Tarasov, Nick Petrecki (hand), Mikael Tam, and Marek Viedensky. Just before posting time for this story Tam and Viedensky were loaned to the San Francisco Bulls, the ECHL affiliate of the Sharks. Harri Sateri was the back-up netminder.
The win against Portland was the third in a row on the road for the WorSharks. That’s the first time it’s happened since December 9-17, 2011 when they ran off five in a row, all in regulation.
The three stars of the game were
1. WOR – 22 Tim Kennedy (gwg)
2. POR – 12 Rob Klinkhammer (2g)
3. WOR – 15 James Sheppard (g)
The Sharkspage player of the game was Sebastian Stalberg.
Worcester 1 0 3 – 4
Portland 1 1 0 – 2
1st Period-1, Portland, Klinkhammer 4 1:08. 2, Worcester, Stalberg 5 (Tennyson, Irwin), 3:37 (PP). Penalties-Rechlicz Por (interference), 2:22; Pelech Wor (fighting), 13:46; Louis Por (fighting), 13:46; Tennyson Wor (interference), 17:59.
2nd Period-3, Portland, Klinkhammer 5 (Shinnimin, Brodeur), 8:27. Penalties-Gormley Por (holding), 1:59; Pelech Wor (cross-checking), 5:34; Kearns Wor (goaltender interference), 12:39; Doherty Wor (cross-checking), 14:26; served by Brown Por (bench minor – too many men), 16:01; Brophey Por (tripping), 16:58.
3rd Period-4, Worcester, Sheppard 2 (Gourde, Groulx), 11:05. 5, Worcester, Kennedy 5 (Kearns, Acolatse), 12:13. 6, Worcester, Irwin 1 (Acolatse), 19:52 (EN). Penalties-Sheppard Wor (tripping), 8:33; Irwin Wor (hooking), 17:43.
Shots on Goal-Worcester 12-10-10-32. Portland 7-9-6-22.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 1 / 4; Portland 0 / 6.
Goalies-Worcester, Stalock 7-2-0 (22 shots-20 saves). Portland, Visentin 1-2-1 (31 shots-28 saves).
Referees-Jean Hebert (43), Geoff Miller (28).
Linesmen-Joe Andrews (32), Kiel Murchison (79).