The Worcester Sharks were outplayed for huge stretches of their Sunday matinee with the Providence Bruins but thanks to Harri Sateri’s 50 save performance and a little help from video replay were able to get the game to a shootout, where Sateri was once again perfect and James Sheppard connected for the only goal from any of the skaters to defeat the PBruins 3-2 at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island.
In the opening 20 minutes Providence would fire 25 shots on Sateri, many of the quality chances, but the WorSharks netminder matched the Baby-Bs nearly shot for shot. The only one to beat him was a deflection that lead to the first goal of the game as Providence was swarming all over the Worcester end. Defenseman Matt Bartkowski skated deep into the zone from the left point to grab a loose puck and fire it into the slot. Despite Matt Irwin hanging all over him Christian Hanson was able to deflect the puck past Sateri for the 1-0 PBruins lead at 14:23.
The WorSharks special teams have been pretty bad all season, but they’ve been so bad lately that during a pregame interview with broadcaster Eric Lindquist Worcester head coach Roy Sommer said they “sucked” during the first two games of their road three-in-three. Sommer was right, they did, but they picked a good time to step it up when Yanni Gourde converted on the team’s first shorthanded goal in almost a full calendar year. It was actually sort of a “nothing” play, with Gourde collecting a Providence turnover just inside the Worcester blue line and skating down the right side and into the PBruins zone. Gourde turned left and skated across the top of the two circles, cutting in to fire a wrist shot from just at the left side dot. The puck beat Providence goaltender Niklas Svedberg to the glove side, but as Gourde began to celebrate referee Dave Lewis was waiving that it was no goal.
A few moments later after the next stoppage referee Lewis went to look at the replay, and then signaled the goal was good at 19:27.
Providence would regain their lead with bad angle goal that seemed to surprise Sateri. The Baby-Bs had once again hemmed the WorSharks into their own zone, but the undermanned Worcester defense was doing a decent job in keeping the puck away from the front of the net. Unfortunately for the WorSharks that wasn’t enough when a bouncing puck ended up between the skates of Irwin, and Justin Florek was able to smack it free with a backhander just above the goal line to the left of Sateri that that the netminder didn’t see coming until too late, and the puck banked into the net off his skate an in at 3:59.
The much maligned special teams unit would again get Worcester back to even with a power play tall at 10:34 of the middle period when Tim Kennedy and Sheppard pulled off the perfect give and go inside the circle to the left of Svedberg. Kennedy took Sheppard’s return pass and fired a hard wrist shot that beat Svedberg to the far side at 10:34, with Sena Acolatse picking up the second assist.
The third period and overtime would be scoreless thanks to Sateri and Svedberg, although the WorSharks would need to kill off a penalty late in the third period when for the second time in two games Sheppard took a silly penalty late in a game with the score tied. Sheppard did redeem himself by notching the only goal in the shootout to give Worcester the 3-2 victory.
Scratches for Worcester were Jimmy Bonneau, Taylor Doherty (leg), Nick Petrecki (hand), Matt Pelech (suspended, game three of three), Travis Oleksuk, and Danny Groulx (concussion). With Doherty being injured in Saturday night’s win over Bridgeport the WorSharks only had five healthy defensemen to dress, so they went with 13 forwards. In previous conversations with hockey operations they’ve explained that it doesn’t make sense to rush a defensemen in from the ECHL that doesn’t know the system because he wouldn’t see many shifts, and might cause more harm than good.
The WorSharks wore their usual teal road jerseys while Providence went with their alternate gold home jerseys. This writer is a huge fan of both teams wearing colored jerseys in games, and it would be great to see it more often where possible.
Some figures about Providence having 25 shots on goal in the first period…
…beat the full game totals for 3 AHL teams Sunday, although two of those teams, Portland & Texas, won.
…are more than the Hershey Bears average total for a game (24.1 entering Sunday).
…are more than the Syracuse Crunch average giving up per game (24.6 entering Sunday)
The three stars of the game were
1. WOR – 15 James Sheppard (shootout game winner)
2. WOR – 35 Harri Sateri (50 saves)
3. PRO – 26 Christian Hanson (g,a)
The practice of automatically giving the number one star of the game to the skater that scores the game winning shootout goal has got to stop. The WorSharks could have lost 3-2 in regulation and Sateri was still the number one star. Nothing short of a hat trick should bump a 50 save performance from being the number one star. On that note, despite not usually giving the Sharkspage player of the game to one of the top two stars because he didn’t get the number one star he deserved we’ll give Harry Sateri the nod here.
Worcester 1 1 0 0 – 3
Providence 1 1 0 0 – 2
1st Period-1, Providence, Hanson 3 (Bartkowski), 14:23. 2, Worcester, Gourde 6 19:27 (SH). Penalties-Irwin Wor (roughing), 4:51; Sauve Pro (roughing), 4:51; Tam Wor (slashing), 6:44; Cunningham Pro (hooking), 10:50; Kennedy Wor (cross-checking), 11:55; Tennyson Wor (hooking), 17:35.
2nd Period-3, Providence, Florek 1 (Hanson, Hirschfeld), 3:59. 4, Worcester, Kennedy 11 (Sheppard, Acolatse), 10:34 (PP). Penalties-Florek Pro (boarding), 6:48; Tardif Pro (double minor – high-sticking), 9:53; Caron Pro (interference), 17:54.
3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Sheppard Wor (boarding), 15:14.
OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties
Shootout – Worcester 1 (Sheppard G, McCarthy NG, Kennedy NG, Matsumoto NG, Reid NG), Providence 0 (Spooner NG, Hanson NG, Bourque NG, Tardif NG, Cunningham NG).
Shots on Goal-Worcester 8-13-7-3-1-32. Providence 25-12-9-6-0-52.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 1 / 5; Providence 0 / 4.
Goalies-Worcester, Sateri 3-4-1 (52 shots-50 saves). Providence, Svedberg 8-4-1 (31 shots-29 saves).
Referees-Dave Lewis (46), Jarrod Ragusin (54).
Linesmen-Bob Bernard (42), Brian MacDonald (72).