The Worcester Sharks couldn’t hold on to the two one goal leads given to them by Tim Kennedy, but goaltender Harri Sateri was perfect in overtime and in the shootout to help lead the WorSharks to a 4-3 win over the Sound Tigers Saturday night at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Special teams has been an issue for Worcester over the first quarter of the season, and Saturday night was no exception when the WorSharks generated little offense during their first power play attempt and then surrendered a goal in just four seconds after being shorthanded for the first time. With Curt Gogol sitting on the penalty bench Casey Cizikas won a draw cleanly from the dot to the right of Sateri. The puck went directly to Sound Tigers defenseman Jon Landry, who blasted a shot on goal from the high slot that beat Sateri at 8:12 of the opening period.
Freddie Hamilton would get the WorSharks back to even after he followed his own shot and continued to fight for the puck in front of Bridgeport netminder Kevin Poulin. The play began with try-out defenseman Mike Brennan, who is playing in the spot usually occupied by the suspended Matt Pelech, blasting a shot on goal from the left point. Poulin made the save but the long rebound went right to the stick of Hamilton, who fired the puck back on net. Poulin again made the save, but with James Livingston creating a lot of chaos in front of the Sound Tigers goal Hamilton was able to get to the rebound and throw a backhander on net to finally beat Poulin at 11:02. Gogol was given credit for the second assist.
While Worcester was celebrating the Hamilton tally in front of their bench some of the Bridgeport players took offense to something and eventually all ten players got together, with Brennan and Blair Riley dropping the mitts. Livingston and Brett Gallant would also be sent off to the sin bin but for some inexplicable reason referee Jean Hebert, who didn’t have the best of games, hit Livingston with an extra minor for unsportsmanlike conduct giving the Sound Tigers a power play after starting the fracas. To add injury to insult, Taylor Doherty looked to have suffered a leg injury when he was tackled by Bridgeport defenseman Matt Donovan so low that it would have generated a 15 yard penalty in the NFL for breaking the ‘Brady rule’.
Doherty did not play again until the third period, and it was obvious that he was struggling on the bad leg.
After Gogol and Nathan McIver got together in the WorSharks zone in a one-sided affair at 14:24 that saw McIver land several hard shots, Kennedy would give Worcester its first lead of the game with a bad angle goal at 17:33. Just after Worcester killed off a Sena Acolatse cross checking minor Kennedy hit the defenseman with a nice pass just as Acolatse was stepping out of the penalty box. Acolatse broke into the Bridgeport zone but pulled up in front of the Sound Tigers defense when he could go no further. Kennedy, who had passed the puck from the left wing half-wall in his own zone, rushed up the ice along the boards and Acolatse hit him with a pass. Kennedy couldn’t break toward the Bridgeport net, and as he was running out of ice he fired a hard shot on goal from a near impossible angle that beat Poulin over the left shoulder.
The WorSharks would carry the 2-1 lead into the third period thanks to Sateri, who made several key stops in the middle period as the momentum slowly swung in the favor of the Sound Tigers. The third period started like the second ended, with Worcester back on its heels and not playing very well. Bridgeport would finally get the equalizer after Gogol was unable to get the puck into the Sound Tigers zone deep enough to complete the line change behind him, and as Bridgeport broke out of the zone Nino Niederreiter would eventually beat Sateri to the low stick side at 2:51 to get the Sound Tigers back to even.
Kennedy would again give Worcester the lead with a laser of a shot at 13:52. With Bridgeport totally controlling play and the WorSharks mounting little in the way of offense Worcester was having some issues getting out of their own zone with the Sound Tigers forechecking at every opportunity. Matt Irwin would eventually gather the puck in his own end and hit Bracken Kearns in the neutral zone with a pass, but after entering the Bridgeport zone Kearns got pinned to the left wing half boards by Travis Hamonic. Kennedy swooped into the zone and collected the loose puck, firing a hard wrist shot from right on the left wing dot off the far post and in behind Poulin.
Bridgeport would get back to even again with–what else–a power play goal at 17:32 of the third period after Sateri made a nifty save at the near post but couldn’t get a glove on to the bouncing puck in front of him. Brock Nelson is credited with the goal, but it looked like it may have been John McCarthy knocking the puck under his own goaltender and into the net as he tried to help Sateri cover the puck.
The overtime stanza, which started with a rare three on three as McCarthy and Jordan Hill were both in the box for penalties as regulation expired, was tilted entirely to the Sound Tigers with all three shots in the extra stanza being taken by Bridgeport. The WorSharks looked to have a good breakout going just over a minute into overtime, but James Sheppard took a bad interference minor behind the play to give the Sound Tigers a man advantage. Sateri stood tall while shorthanded to keep Worcester in the game, and was perfect in the shootout stopping all four attempts against him while Sheppard and Kennedy scored for the WorSharks for the 4-3 win.
Scratches for Worcester were Jimmy Bonneau, Danny Groulx (concussion), Frazer McLaren, Matt Pelech (suspended, game two of three), Nick Petrecki (hand), and Sebastian Stalberg. With Danny Groulx going down Friday night Mikael Tam was recalled from the San Francisco Bulls, the WorSharks ECHL affiliate. Earlier this week Worcester signed former Boston College defenseman Mike Brennan to a try-out contract to replace Pelech in the line-up. In two games so far Brennan has two assists, two roughing minors, and a fight.
Worcester needed just the minimum three shooters to win the shootout. It’s fourth time in franchise history they’ve done that, and in all four cases it was a fourth round save by the WorSharks goaltender that won them the game. Worcester has never had the first three of its shooters score to win a shootout at the end of the third round.
The Sound Tigers, who in this writer’s opinion usually wear one of the sharpest looking jerseys in the AHL, wore special camouflage jerseys for Military Appreciation Night that were auctioned off after the game. Worcester went with this season’s new teal road jerseys. The camouflage jerseys Bridgeport wore may have been the reason referee Jean Hebert seemed to have an issue calling a penalty on the Sound Tigers for repeatedly running Sateri over while Sateri was in his crease. My unofficial count of that happening was at five, while the official count of penalties being called for doing so was at zero.
Streaking WorSharks: Tim Kennedy has a five game point streak (5-5-10) and has back-to-back two goal games. Bracken Kearns has a three game point streak going (1-2-3), and PTO defenseman Brennan has a two game assist streak. Kennedy, Kearns, Matt Irwin, and the injured Petrecki all have been even or better in eight straight games. John McCarthy has a seven game streak at even or better, as does Stalberg, who was a healthy scratch Saturday night.
The three stars of the game were
1. WOR – 35 Harri Sateri (35 saves, perfect in shootout)
2. BRI – 22 Nino Niederreiter (g,a)
3. WOR – 22 Tim Kennedy (2g)
The Sharkspage player of the game was Freddie Hamilton.
Even strength lines
Worcester 2 0 1 0 – 4
Bridgeport 1 0 2 0 – 3
1st Period-1, Bridgeport, Landry 4 (Cizikas), 8:12 (PP). 2, Worcester, Hamilton 3 (Brennan, Gogol), 11:02. 3, Worcester, Kennedy 9 (Acolatse), 17:33. Penalties-Brennan Wor (roughing), 4:00; McIver Bri (roughing, roughing), 4:00; Gogol Wor (roughing), 8:08; Brennan Wor (fighting), 11:02; Livingston Wor (roughing, unsportsmanlike conduct, misconduct – unsportsmanlike conduct), 11:02; Gallant Bri (roughing, misconduct – unsportsmanlike conduct), 11:02; Riley Bri (fighting), 11:02; Persson Bri (interference), 11:46; Gogol Wor (fighting), 14:24; McIver Bri (fighting), 14:24; Acolatse Wor (cross-checking), 15:22.
2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Irwin Wor (slashing), 7:58; Nelson Bri (interference), 17:33; Mashinter Wor (slashing), 19:31.
3rd Period-4, Bridgeport, Niederreiter 10 (McDonald, Hamonic), 2:51. 5, Worcester, Kennedy 10 (Kearns, Irwin), 13:52. 6, Bridgeport, Nelson 8 (Niederreiter), 17:32 (PP). Penalties-Nelson Bri (hooking), 8:35; Kennedy Wor (slashing), 9:14; Donovan Bri (slashing), 9:14; Acolatse Wor (high-sticking), 16:39; McCarthy Wor (slashing), 18:33; Hill Bri (closing hand on puck), 18:33.
OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Sheppard Wor (interference), 1:19.
Shootout – Worcester 2 (Sheppard G, McCarthy NG, Kennedy G), Bridgeport 0 (Niederreiter NG, Sundstrom NG, Nelson NG, McDonald NG).
Shots on Goal-Worcester 14-10-9-0-1-34. Bridgeport 5-14-16-3-0-38.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 0 / 4; Bridgeport 2 / 7.
Goalies-Worcester, Sateri 2-4-1 (38 shots-35 saves). Bridgeport, Poulin 6-5-1 (33 shots-30 saves).
Referees-Jean Hebert (43).
Linesmen-Brent Colby (7), Derek Wahl (46).