The Worcester Sharks got two point nights from Jon Matsumoto and James Sheppard and an outstanding goaltending performance from Harri Sateri to defeat the Manchester Monarchs 2-1 in the back half of a home and home Friday night at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts in front of 5,008 fans.
Jon Matsumoto scoring the game winner after banking the puck off the legs of Manchester goaltender Peter Mannino
late in the 3rd period of Friday's 2-1 victory over the Monarchs. Photo courtesy of SMUGMUG.COM
After losing 2-1 Wednesday night to Manchester in a game where Worcester generally outplayed their division rivals but couldn’t get enough pucks past Monarchs goaltender Peter Mannino the WorSharks came out and picked up right where they left off and peppered Mannino with half a dozen high quality chances before the game was five minutes old. And like Wednesday, Worcester just couldn’t get the puck past Mannino to light the lamp. The only thing that slowed the WorSharks up was their power play, which has not been very good against Manchester and continued to struggle again Friday night.
The WorSharks first power play chance passed without much in the way for offense, and as the penalty expired Manchester lazily cleared the puck out of their zone all the way down to the Worcester end and looked to change behind the play. The puck ended up on Sheppard’s stick, and with a head of steam rushed up the left wing side blowing past Monarchs defenseman David Kolomatis like he was standing still. All Kolomatis could do was wave his stick at Sheppard as he went by fully focused on the net. Linden Vey, who had been in the penalty box, took the wrong angle on Sheppard as Sheppard cut to the net, and after faking like he was going backhand froze Mannino until he had just enough of an opening to wrist the puck over Mannino’s blocker at 12:06. Matsumoto had the lone assist on the play.
Manchester picked up their play after the Sheppard highlight goal and WorSharks fans started to get the vibe that it would be another period tilted in one direction but ending tied as the Monarchs put decent flurries on Sateri, but Worcester’s rag-tag defensive corps gave Sateri just enough support to thwart the Monarchs offense.
Worcester would end up outshooting Manchester 18-7 in the opening period, but the Monarchs picked up their play in the second period and kept the ice tilted toward the north end of the building. Sateri made several great saves, but Manchester would tie the game on a highlight goal of their own after Tanner Pearson fed Jake Muzzin from behind the goal line to the face-off dot to the right of Sateri. In a one-timer that looked like it was straight out of a video game Muzzin lasered one just over the right shoulder of Sateri and just under the crossbar at 16:21.
For the next 20 minutes of game time it was the Sateri and Mannino show, with each goaltender making some great saves to keep their team tied. Over that span three or four times the WorSharks were able to get the puck within inches of the goal line but just couldn’t get a stick on the loose puck to bang it home. It was becoming obvious it was going to take another highlight effort or a lucky bounce to win the game, and luckily for the WorSharks fans in attendance it was Matsumoto that had the highlight goal.
With Brodie Reid, Sheppard, and Matsumoto hemming the Monarchs in their zone with one of the best forechecking shifts seen in these parts since the days of the Crazed Rats, the three would combine for the eventual game winner after Reid flipped a backhander deep into the Manchester zone. While being pinned to the endboards by Monarchs defenseman Andre Bodnarchuk all Sheppard could do was bump the puck toward the front of the net. Matsumoto beat Marc-Andre Cliche to the loose puck and as the two headed behind the Manchester net Sheppard dug in to stop as Cliche sailed right by him. Matsumoto reversed direction and went around the far post just as Mannino was set up on the near post. As Mannino rushed to get back over to the near post Matsumoto banked the puck off Mannino and into the net at 16:05 of the third period.
Manchester went all out trying to get the equalizer, but Sateri was up to the challenge to give Worcester a much needed home win and two points. These two teams will play again on Monday night in Manchester, with the WorSharks taking on Province at home on Saturday and the Monarchs heading to Bridgeport to take on the Sound Tigers.
Scratches for Worcester were Jimmy Bonneau, Taylor Doherty, Curt Gogol, Danny Groulx, Travis Oleksuk, and Nick Petrecki. All are injured except Bonneau. Alex Stalock was the back-up goaltender.
There were two fights in the contest, with Sena Acolatse taking on Andy Andreoff in a first period bout that home town scoring gives to Acolatse. In the second period Mike Brennan and Richard Clune dropped the gloves in the Worcester end, and you have to give Brennan a lot of credit for sticking up for himself against a fighter like Clune. Brennan didn’t win, but certainly acquitted himself nicely.
Despite both receiving game misconducts last Friday night under rules that result in automatic two game suspensions Worcester’s Frazer McLaren and Providence’s Bobby Robins have apparently escaped scot-free. McLaren’s game misconduct, his second of that game, was not even posted to the box score by the AHL until Saturday afternoon, so it seems odd that neither player received the automatic suspension. It also seems Robbins will not face further discipline for his head hunting of Matt Tennyson. This writer expects some on-ice discipline will be handed out when the two teams meet Saturday night.
How’s this for a head-scratcher–Manchester is 1-9-1 on Fridays and 13-14-3 the rest of the week. The good news for Worcester is twice more this season they play the Monarchs on Friday nights.
The three stars of the game were
1. WOR – 15 James Sheppard (g,a)
2. WOR – 11 Jon Matsumoto (g,a)
3. WOR – 35 Harri Sateri (win,22 saves)
The Sharkspage player of the game is Brodie Reid.
Manchester 0 1 0 – 1
Worcester 1 0 1 – 2
1st Period-1, Worcester, Sheppard 8 (Matsumoto), 12:06. Penalties-Vey Mch (holding), 9:54; Andreoff Mch (fighting), 13:03; Acolatse Wor (fighting), 13:03; Legein Mch (slashing), 19:26.
2nd Period-2, Manchester, Muzzin 2 (Pearson, Vey), 16:21. Penalties-Clune Mch (fighting), 9:39; Brennan Wor (fighting), 9:39; Sheppard Wor (slashing), 11:27.
3rd Period-3, Worcester, Matsumoto 7 (Sheppard, Reid), 16:05. Penalties-Bodnarchuk Mch (holding the stick), 6:40.
Shots on Goal-Manchester 7-5-11-23. Worcester 18-9-7-34.
Power Play Opportunities-Manchester 0 / 1; Worcester 0 / 3.
Goalies-Manchester, Mannino 7-3-0 (34 shots-32 saves). Worcester, Sateri 5-6-1 (23 shots-22 saves).
Referees-David Banfield (77), Trent Knorr (44).
Linesmen-Chris Aughe (74), Chris Millea (33).