The Worcester Sharks scored five goals in a game for the first time in two months and has several players break goal scoring droughts, but it was goaltender Alex Stalock’s 37 save performance that stole the show as he lead the WorSharks to a 5-1 win over the Northeast Division leading Springfield Falcons Sunday afternoon at the DCU Center in snowy Worcester, Massachusetts in front of 4,034 fans.
WorSharks forward Matt Pelech, sans glove, screens Falcons netminder Curtis McElhinney during a Worcester
power play. Pelech scored the eventual game winning goal in Worcester's 5-1 victory.
Photo courtesy of TEAMSHRED
When your team scores five goals it’s odd that your goaltender is your most valuable player, but over the first 40 minutes of the game the WorSharks were outshot, outhit, outworked, outeverything you could possibly be in a hockey game except outscored. And that was one hundred percent due to Stalock, who stopped everything he saw coming at him. Unfortunately for Stalock, Michael Chaput’s laser through traffic off a clean face-off win by Jonathan Audy-Marchessault was one he didn’t see as the Falcons forward’s shot went threw a path not much larger than a postage stamp to beat Stalock over the right shoulder and ring in off the crossbar at 10:07 of the middle period to get Springfield within one at 2-1. But thanks to Stalock, that was as close as the Falcons would get.
Despite being outshot 11-4 in the opening 20 minutes it was the WorSharks that would end the period with a 2-0 lead. Worcester’s first goal came from James Livingston on a rush down the right wing side as he took a Jon Matsumoto feed off on a two on one break with Daniil Tarasov. Livingston’s wrist shot, which was the WorSharks first shot of the game, came from the slot just inside the face-off circle and beat Falcons netminder Curtis McElhinney at 4:21 for the 1-0 lead. The goal was Livingston’s first since his game winner against these same Falcons on January 25th.
Just yesterday this writer mentioned that Matt Pelech was the last Worcester regular without a goal on the season, and while the odds are long that Pelech read that he did join the goal scorers club with an unassisted tally at 5:13 to give the WorSharks a 2-0 lead. The play began innocently enough, as if any play with Pelech and Jimmy Bonneau on the ice can be labeled as “innocently”, with Pelech on the forecheck and the Falcons defense well in control of the puck. With Pelech bearing down on Cody Goloubef the defenseman tried to backhand the puck off the endboards over to his defensive partner on the other side of the goal, but in his haste to try to avoid being pasted against the endboards by Pelech his pass struck the side of the net and laid flat on the ice right on the goal line to the right of McElhinney’s net. Pelech was able to grab the puck and bank it off McElhinney to light the lamp for his first goal since December 28, 2011.
Ironically, in Pelech’s 99 games with Worcester he has two goals–both game winners.
For the remainder of the first 40 minutes it was the Alex Stalock Show as he continued to make save after save as the WorSharks looked flat and the Falcons ramped up the pressure. At one point in the second period the shots on goal read 21-6 in favor of Springfield and it was 25-11 after two periods, and with the Falcons getting a power play on fresh ice to start the third period there was some grumbling that Worcester was really going to have to step it up to earn the two points for the win. And they did.
After a nice penalty kill where the Falcons didn’t get any good chances Worcester clamped down defensively and an errant pass from the Falcons went all the way down to their own end of the ice where McElhinney played the puck along the back of his net up along the boards to the right wing half boards. With the WorSharks forwards entering the zone and crashing the net Sebastian Stalberg grabbed the loose puck outside the face-off circle and fired the puck on goal from a bad angle looking for a rebound chance for his line mates, but the puck hit a Springfield defender and beat McElhinney at 3:02 for Stalberg’s first goal since December 29th.
Marek Viedensky would make it 4-1 for Team Teal after a defensive blunder by the Falcons allowed him to break in all alone on McElhinney. Matt Tennyson had sent Livingston down the left wing side where two Springfield players went to defend him. That left Viedensky all alone streaking through the neutral zone, and while Livingston’s back hand pass had some loft to it Viedensky calmly plucked the puck out of the air and drove to the net unmolested, beating McElhinney glove side just under the crossbar at 11:13 for his first AHL goal since March 16, 2012.
Danny Groulx would add a power play goal off a booming slapshot at 18:30 for the 5-1 final. The goal was assisted by Tarasov and Denny Urban.
WorSharks head coach went with the same line-up as Saturday night’s 4-1 win over Portland, with Sena Acolatse (jaw), Mike Brennan (lower body), Curt Gogol, Yanni Gourde, Tommy Grant, and Nick Petrecki all being scratched. Harri Sateri was once again the back-up goaltender.
The win was Alex Stalock’s 74th for Worcester, tying him all-time with Thomas Greiss for wins in Worcester pro hockey history. Obviously, 74 would also be the franchise record for wins by a goaltender. Stalock actually has 76 career AHL wins after winning two games for the Peoria Rivermen last season when he was loaned to the St Louis Blues affiliate at the end of last season.
The boxscore shows Worcester’s top line of John McCarthy/Brodie Reid/Bracken Kearns as being the only WorSharks players “minus” for the game, and that was due to the Falcons making a concerted effort to keep that line from producing any offense. Well, Springfield won that battle but lost the war. I’m sure those three will take that every night.
Streaking WorSharks: Matt Tennyson has points in three straight games (2-2-4), Danny Groulx has goals in consecutive games and has been even or better in six straight. Jimmy Bonneau has gone 13 games without being a minus for a contest. Travis Oleksuk has a seven game even or better streak going, and Marek Viedensky is at six in a row. Taylor Doherty has been even or better since November 30th, but due to missed time because of an injury his streak is just five games. Adam Comrie is also at five games.
The three stars of the game were
1. WOR – 32 Alex Stalock (win, 37 saves)
2. WOR – 23 Matt Pelech (gwg)
3. WOR – 26 James Livingston (g,a)
The Sharkspage player of the game was Marek Viedensky.
Springfield 0 1 0 – 1
Worcester 2 0 3 – 5
1st Period-1, Worcester, Livingston 4 (Matsumoto), 4:21. 2, Worcester, Pelech 1 5:13. Penalties-Groulx Wor (unsportsmanlike conduct), 9:26; Holden Spr (hooking), 13:06.
2nd Period-3, Springfield, Chaput 9 (Audy-Marchessault), 10:07. Penalties-Viedensky Wor (tripping), 3:22; Comrie Wor (hooking), 5:56; Bass Spr (roughing), 16:23; Bonneau Wor (roughing), 16:23; Livingston Wor (hooking), 20:00.
3rd Period-4, Worcester, Stalberg 7 3:02. 5, Worcester, Viedensky 1 (Livingston, Tennyson), 11:13. 6, Worcester, Groulx 4 (Urban, Tarasov), 18:30 (PP). Penalties-Hansen Spr (hooking), 3:41; Goloubef Spr (unsportsmanlike conduct), 9:10; Stalberg Wor (unsportsmanlike conduct), 9:10; Groulx Wor (holding), 11:32; Vogelhuber Spr (holding), 17:02.
Shots on Goal-Springfield 11-14-13-38. Worcester 4-7-9-20.
Power Play Opportunities-Springfield 0 / 5; Worcester 1 / 3.
Goalies-Springfield, McElhinney 21-10-2 (20 shots-15 saves). Worcester, Stalock 15-11-3 (38 shots-37 saves).
Referees-Jean-Philippe Sylvain (16).
Linesmen-Bob Bernard (42), Brian MacDonald (72).