The Worcester Sharks were cruising along after three straight goals in the late second period and early third gave them a 4-2 lead and looked to have the game well in hand being backstopped by NHL netminder Thomas Greiss down on a conditioning assignment, but once again a team showed what happens when you take your foot off the accelerator as the St John’s IceCaps were able to race by them with two late third period goals and then a quick tally in overtime to defeat the WorSharks Saturday night at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts in front of 4,143 stunned fans
Curt Gogol, Mike Brennan, Marek Viedensky, Dane Walters, Lane Scheidl, and Brodie Reid did not dress for Worcester. Prior to the game Matt Tennyson took the Worcester shuttle out west for the first time.
Just after both anthems were sung and while members of the Worcester Sharks Booster Club were at center ice handing out Player of the Month Awards (December’s was Daniil Tarasov, January’s was Harri Sateri) it was noticed that Thomas Greiss, the announced starter, was heading toward the WorSharks bench and Sateri was skating to take over the net. Greiss then went just a little bit down the player tunnel and began stretching his left shoulder, and then after a few moments he sat down on a stool in the runway and just sat there waiting with his mask on. 51 seconds later after the first whistle of the game Greiss skated back on the ice and relieved Sateri in net. There was no official explanation given by the Worcester Sharks for what happened, although there are rumors abound that Greiss purposely skated off so Sateri could start, extending his starting streak to 12 games.
The 12 game starting streak by Sateri bests his personal mark of 11 (from March 18 to April 13 last season), and is just four behind the WorSharks regular season team record for goaltender starts currently held by Greiss at 16 that he set from March 13 until the end of the 2008-2009 regular season on April 11. Greiss then tacked on 12 playoff starts to make the overall record an incredible 28 consecutive starts. Greiss also has a streak of 22 games in a row where he received the decision, but one of those games was a relief appearance against the Hershey Bears on March 16, 2007 when Dimitri Patzold gave up four goals in the first period and in a wild game Greiss eventually won 7-6 in a shootout.
The overtime loss now puts Worcester seven points out of the final playoff spot with 11 games to go, but they do have at least a game in hand–in most cases two–on everyone between them an eighth place. The big issue they face is they need to climb over four teams to get there and they play one of the toughest remaining schedules in the AHL. The WorSharks also need to land in eighth all by themselves as they don’t appear to own the tiebreaker against any of the teams they are competing against. People smarter than this writer, which is not exactly a small subset, say Worcester’s chances are well under 20%. No matter the actual number, it’s a long shot at best.
Matt Pelech’s roughing minor in the second period gave the defenseman turned forward 212 penalty minutes on the season, setting a new team record. The previous record was held by Brennan Evans, set during the 2007-08 campaign. Pelech has some work to do to set the city mark, which is 337 set by Sylvain Blouin in 1999-2000 for the Worcester IceCats. The odd part about Blouin’s season is not only did he set his personal high in penalty minutes that campaign but also set career marks in goals (16), assists (17), and points (34). He then tacked on 3-5-8 and 30PIMs in 8 playoff games. That’s a pretty good season for anyone, not just an enforcer type player.
The three stars of the game were
1. WOR – 16 Bracken Kearns (2g,a)
2. STJ – 49 Ben Maxwell (2g,a)
3. STJ – 23 Will O’Neill (g,a)
The Sharkspage player of the game was Daniil Tarasov.
St. John’s 1 1 2 1 – 5
Worcester 1 1 2 0 – 4
1st Period-1, Worcester, Sivak 3 (Tarasov, Kearns), 3:29. 2, St. John’s, Gregoire 10 14:41 (SH). Penalties-Ezekiel Stj (fighting), 2:24; Bonneau Wor (fighting), 2:24; Petrecki Wor (cross-checking), 5:22; Gourde Wor (boarding), 10:01; Sol Stj (roughing, unsportsmanlike conduct), 13:42; Bonneau Wor (roughing, unsportsmanlike conduct), 13:42; Cullity Stj (cross-checking), 13:55.
2nd Period-3, St. John’s, Gagnon 11 (Maxwell, Chiarot), 1:41. 4, Worcester, Kearns 18 (Tarasov, Doherty), 17:26. Penalties-Sol Stj (roughing), 4:10; Ezekiel Stj (roughing, unsportsmanlike conduct), 7:34; Pelech Wor (roughing), 7:34; Petrecki Wor (roughing), 14:08.
3rd Period-5, Worcester, Matsumoto 14 5:40 (TXT_PS). 6, Worcester, Kearns 19 (Stalberg, Tarasov), 7:33. 7, St. John’s, O’Neill 2 (Mouillierat), 17:16. 8, St. John’s, Maxwell 8 (O’Neill, Cullity), 19:07. Penalties-No Penalties
OT Period-9, St. John’s, Maxwell 9 (Gagnon, Pasquale), 0:23. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-St. John’s 9-10-7-1-27. Worcester 14-10-9-1-34.
Power Play Opportunities-St. John’s 0 / 3; Worcester 0 / 3.
Goalies-St. John’s, Pasquale 15-21-4 (34 shots-30 saves). Worcester, Sateri 14-17-3 (0 shots-0 saves); Greiss 0-1-0 (27 shots-22 saves).
Referees-Geno Binda (22).
Linesmen-Bob Paquette (18), Todd Whittemore (70).