The Worcester Sharks went into Friday night’s contest with the Springfield Falcons with many of their top players out of the line-up as the NHL gets ready to open training camps for their lockout shortened season, and despite losing three different one goal leads were able to grab the bonus point when Nick Petrecki connected with 42 seconds left in overtime to carry his WorSharks to a 4-3 win at the DCU Center in front of 3,663 fans.
Teammates mob defenseman Nick Petrecki (#29) moments after his overtime game winning goal
vs Springfield Falcons Friday night. Photo courtesy of JIM CORMIER
The Falcons, who entered the game as one of only three AHL teams still in single digits for regulation losses, totally controlled the opening minutes of the game and kept Worcester hemmed into their own end. Through the first three minutes of the game the WorSharks never possessed the puck in the Springfield zone, and wasn’t having much luck in the neutral zone either. A brief offensive flurry gave the WorSharks a power play before a minor for an accidental high stick sent Bracken Kearns off to make it four skaters a side. In a play that started off as mostly nothing rookie Freddie Hamilton broke into the Springfield zone down the left wing side that looked like the Falcons had guarded fairly well. But Hamilton was able to wind his way through the zone and then around Falcons defenseman Cody Goloubef, lifting a shot over Springfield goaltender Curtis McElhinney at 6:05 to give Worcester a 1-0 lead on their first shot on goal. Matt Pelech and James Livingston got the assist on the goal.
Just moments later Jon Matsumoto had a great chance when a bouncing puck ending up on his stick all alone in front of McElhinney, but the netminder made a great save to keep it 1-0. Matsumoto would have another great chance all alone in front of McElhinney at the end of the period, but once again came up empty. On the other end of the ice WorSharks goaltender Harri Sateri was just as sharp, and he needed to be as most of the game was played on his end of the sheet. The Falcons had an 11-5 shot edge in the first twenty minutes but that gap could have been much wider were it not for the several blocked shots in front of Sateri, including a nice block by a stickless Michael Wilson on the penalty kill.
Despite the ice being tilted toward the Worcester end and Springfield totally carrying the play the WorSharks one goal lead held up for almost exactly twenty minutes of play, coming to an end at 6:00 of the second period when the Falcons broke into the Worcester zone three on two. Michael Chaput threw a pass from the left wing side that Sateri thought was going all the way across to his left, but Tomas Kubalik stuck his stick out to deflect it through the five hole to make it 1-1.
The WorSharks would regain their one goal lead at 15:48 of the second when after a face-off win in the Falcons zone the puck ended up on the stick of PTO defenseman Denny Urban, who fired a hard shot on net that deflected off a Springfield player and past McElhinney. Brodie Reid and Matsumoto had the assist on the goal. But once again the Falcons would answer back, this time at 6:28 of the third period when Jonathan Audy-Marchessault fired a hard shot on net. Sateri made the save but Ryan Johansen was able to outmuscle the Worcester defense to get position to bang the puck home to knot the game 2-2.
Despite losing a couple one goal leads Worcester never put their heads down, and for a third time would jump out ahead of the Falcons when Urban blasted a shot from the right point that deflected past McElhinney at 9:55 for a power play tally. At the time this writer tweeted the shot was deflected by Bracken Kearns. The goal was announced in the DCU Center as Urban’s, and that’s how it reads in the boxscore as of posting time. Both the WorSharks and Bill Ballou have written the goal is Kearns’. No matter, it counts the same and gave Worcester a 3-2 lead.
Again trailing by a goal Springfield really picked up the intensity and continually pinned Worcester in their half of the ice. As time was winding down on the third period you could hear the fans all around press row making comments about referee Terry Koharski and his propensity of making some very borderline calls near the end of games. Shocking to some, that call did not come from Terry but instead his counterpart Jamie Koharski, who called Hamilton for interference in the midst of a puck battle deep in the Worcester zone. Considering the stuff let go by both referees all game the call was borderline at best. With the clock winding down the Falcons pulled McElhinney, and with a two man advantage there was no one to fully mark Kubalik in front of the net, and with 58 seconds remaining he was able to bang home a rebound to send the game to overtime.
Now there will be a lot said about Petrecki’s game winner with 42 seconds remaining in overtime, but the WorSharks might not have gotten that chance were it not for a great individual defensive effort by Daniil Tarasov. Until that point the overtime period was all Worcester, but when defenseman Wilson got caught pinching in the Falcons broke out of their zone on an odd man rush. Starting almost flat footed and facing the wrong direction Tarasov was still able to catch the rushing Springfield forwards to break up the rush.
The Petrecki goal, while nice, was almost accidental. Wilson and captain John McCarthy tried to play a sort of give and go deep in the Falcons zone to the left of McElhinney, but Wilson’s return backhand pass missed McCarthy by a country mile. The puck went right to the stick of Petrecki at the left wing point, and the veteran defenseman fired the puck on net and beat McElhinney to the far post for the game winner.
Scratches for the Worcester were Danny Groulx (concussion), Taylor Doherty (achilles), Matt Tennyson (healthy), Sena Acolatse (jaw), James Sheppard (healthy), Yanni Gourde (healthy), Matt Irwin (healthy), Tim Kennedy (lower body), Patrick Rissmiller (signed to a PTO on Wednesday-healthy), Mikael Tam (recalled from San Francisco on Wednesday-healthy), and Jimmy Bonneau (healthy). While not officially announced, in addition to the Tam and Daniil Tarasov recalls and the Rissmiller signing the WorSharks have also signed defenseman Sacha Guimond (San Francisco-ECHL) to a PTO. Alex Stalock was the back-up goaltender.
There was one fight in the contest, with Matt Pelech dropping the gloves with Dalton Smith. Pelech had just dropped Smith with a booming body check that Smith took exception too, and then after they dropped the gloves Smith held on for dear life and was luckily able to keep Pelech from pounding on him. The hit on Smith was just one of a very unofficial count of seven times that Pelech knocked down an opponent Friday night with a body check.
The WorSharks did something in the first period I have never seen before; they got called for icing while they were offside. Neither was a close call.
Very noticeable from press row was the appearance of Worcester City Manager Mike O’Brien in the luxury box taking in the game. Also noticeable was DCU Center general manager Sandy Dunn catching some of the game with him. This writer tweeted late last night that there was some evidence that the lease extension between the WorSharks, DCU center, and the city was signed yesterday. Sources have told Sharkspage that the extension, a two season deal with a mutual option for a third season, will be announced on Wednesday, January 23rd.
The three stars of the game were
1. WOR – 29 Nick Petrecki (gwg)
2. WOR – 37 Denny Urban (2g)
3. SPR – 18 Tomas Kubalik (2g)
The Sharkspage player of the game is Harri Sateri
Springfield 0 1 2 0 – 3
Worcester 1 1 1 1 – 4
1st Period-1, Worcester, Hamilton 5 (Pelech, Livingston), 6:05. Penalties-Kubalik Spr (holding), 4:45; Kearns Wor (high-sticking), 5:29; Gogol Wor (boarding), 13:46.
2nd Period-2, Springfield, Kubalik 7 (Chaput, Erixon), 6:00. 3, Worcester, Urban 2 (Reid, Matsumoto), 15:48. Penalties-Smith Spr (fighting), 11:12; Pelech Wor (fighting), 11:12; Livingston Wor (elbowing), 16:16; Kubalik Spr (interference), 19:06.
3rd Period-4, Springfield, Johansen 14 (Audy-Marchessault, Goloubef), 6:28. 5, Worcester, Urban 3 (Matsumoto, McCarthy), 9:55 (PP). 6, Springfield, Kubalik 8 (Chaput, Erixon), 19:02 (PP). Penalties-Johansen Spr (holding), 9:15; Hamilton Wor (interference), 17:49.
OT Period-7, Worcester, Petrecki 1 (Wilson, McCarthy), 4:18. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Springfield 11-10-7-0-28. Worcester 5-10-9-2-26.
Power Play Opportunities-Springfield 1 / 4; Worcester 1 / 3.
Goalies-Springfield, McElhinney 17-6-2 (26 shots-22 saves). Worcester, Sateri 7-7-1 (28 shots-25 saves).
Referees-Jamie Koharski (84), Terry Koharski (10).
Linesmen-Robert St. Lawrence (10), Scott Whittemore (96).