The Worcester Sharks were decided underdogs Saturday night at the Onondaga County War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York against the streaking Crunch, who had won ten straight and were going for a AHL season leading 11th in a row. After a scoreless opening period the WorSharks managed a 3-0 lead by early in the third period on goals from Matt Taormina, Willie Coetzee, and Evan Trupp. After a fierce Crunch comeback it was Jeremy Langlois’ empty net goal that provided some breathing room in Worcester’s 4-2 victory over Syracuse.
Worcester Sharks goaltender Troy Grosenick with a nice kick save early in
the first period of the WorSharks 4-2 victory over Syracuse. Grosenick
had 23 saves on the night for his 8th win on the season.
Photo courtesy of the SYRACUSE CRUNCH
For video highlights we’ll point to AHLlive.com.
Scratches for Worcester were Andrew Blazek, Taylor Doherty (hand), Eriah Hayes (left leg), and Petter Emanuelsson (shoulder). J.P. Anderson was the back-up netminder.
As expected, prior to the game the WorSharks signed Riley Brace to a PTO. Brace, who played half the year with Worcester last season before being traded, was the leading scorer on the Wheeling Nailers (ECHL) and wasted no time in getting on the score sheet with the primary assist on Coetzee’s late second period goal. It was an interesting journey to Syracuse for Brace, who was in Ottawa for the ECHL Christmas break. While Brace was in Canada his equipment was heading to South Carolina for the Nailers’ game against the Stingrays Saturday night. Brace had to fly from Ottawa to North Charleston, South Carolina to grab his gear, and then fly on to Syracuse via Washington D.C. Brace arrived about lunchtime, but because he hadn’t skated in six days WorSharks head coach Roy Sommer sent Brace out on the ice to get his legs back.
The Onondaga County War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, where portions of the movie Slap Shot was filmed, has non-standard rink dimensions. Back in 1951 when the building opened there was no standard size for hockey rinks, so its 193 foot long length by 85 foot wide size was considered normal back then. When the two-line pass was considered offside the smaller neutral zone was an issue, but these days it’s mostly just a novelty that doesn’t generally impact the game. Now all NHL sized rinks are uniform, being 200′ by 85′.
Add newcomer Willie Coetzee to the WorSharks record books, although not in a good way. Coetzee was the first Worcester Sharks player called for violating the new AHL helmet rule that requires a player that loses his helmet to stop playing and replace it–chin strap included–or go to the bench. Judging by his reaction he had no idea that was the rule. No harm was done as the Crunch didn’t have any good chances on the power play.
At 3:07 of the first period Bryan Lerg was awarded a penalty shot after being grabbed from behind by Syracuse defenseman Luke Witkowski during a partial breakaway. Lerg missed his attempt making the WorSharks just four for 15 in penalty shot attempts in franchise history.
The three stars of the game were
1. WOR – 28 Jeremy Langlois (g,a)
2. SYR – 37 Yanni Gourde (g)
3. WOR – 20 Matt Taormina (g)
The Sharkspage player of the game is Bryan Lerg.
Even strength lines, courtesy of Tyler Lowell (@TmanLowell11).
Worcester 0 2 2 – 4
Syracuse 0 0 2 – 2
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Coetzee Wor (unsportsmanlike conduct – helmet violation), 13:20; Abeltshauser Wor (hooking), 16:12.
2nd Period-1, Worcester, Taormina 4 (Lerg, Fedun), 8:43 (PP). 2, Worcester, Coetzee 1 (Brace, Abeltshauser), 17:07. Penalties-Mormina Syr (unsportsmanlike conduct), 7:20.
3rd Period-3, Worcester, Trupp 7 (Langlois), 3:31. 4, Syracuse, Gourde 13 (Koekkoek, Richard), 9:45 (PP). 5, Syracuse, Smith 8 (Marchessault, Namestnikov), 17:17. 6, Worcester, Langlois 8 (Lerg), 18:29 (EN). Penalties-Langlois Wor (delay of game), 8:09.
Shots on Goal-Worcester 4-8-11-23. Syracuse 7-10-8-25.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 1 / 1; Syracuse 1 / 3.
Goalies-Worcester, Grosenick 8-5-1 (25 shots-23 saves). Syracuse, Gudlevskis 11-5-0 (22 shots-19 saves).
Referees-Garrett Rank (48).
Linesmen-Derek Sylvester (76), Francis Trempe (85).