The Worcester Sharks played nearly perfect hockey for the first 57 minutes of the opening game in their Eastern Conference quarterfinals matchup with the Hershey Bears at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts, but despite totally outplaying their opponents the WorSharks could only get a late first period power play goal by Micheal Haley past Bears goaltender Pheonix Copley. Suddenly everything changed for Worcester when Jeremy Langlois accidentally boarded Hershey captain Steve Oleksy with just under three minutes to go in regulation, and the Bears converted for three power play goals during the major penalty to win 4-1. The two teams play again on Saturday.
Worcester Sharks forward Micheal Haley broke a 20 game goalless drought with
his first period power play goal Friday night against Hershey. It was Haley's
first playoff goal since the April 18, 2009 when he played with Bridgeport.
File photo courtesy of TEAMSHRED
For video highlights we’ll use the WorSharks YouTube channel
Scratches for the WorSharks were J.P. Anderson, Julius Bergman, Jimmy Bonneau, Daniel Ciampini, Taylor Doherty, Daniel Doremus, John McCarthy (shoulder), Joakim Ryan, and Matt Willows. The rest of the injured list, Willie Coetzee (knee), Petter Emanuelsson (shoulder), and Trevor Parkes (ankle), is out for the season so we won’t mention them again unless Worcester reaches the second round. Troy Grosenick was the back-up goaltender.
Since all anyone is really talking about is Jeremy Langlois’ late third period major penalty, we’ll start there. For the record, despite the officials calling the wrong penalty the end result was exactly as it should have been, a major penalty against Langlois. While many Worcester fans are claiming Bears captain Steve Oleksy put himself in peril and as such Langlois shouldn’t have been penalized that isn’t even close to what happened and, to be blunt, is homerism at its worst.
Referees Geno Binda and Keith Kaval got together after the hit and called Langlois for “checking from behind”, which is rule 43. What Langlois was actually guilty of was boarding, which is rule 41. The difference is semantics, as rule 43 requires a player to unaware that he was about to be hit while boarding doesn’t have that stipulation. As the two players battled for position obviously each is aware of the other, so the call should have been boarding. A moot point as the resulting major was correctly called.
For anyone unaware of the important part of the boarding rule is, we quote the following from the AHL rulebook:
A boarding penalty shall be imposed on any player who checks or pushes a defenseless opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to hit or impact in the boards violently or dangerously. The severity of the penalty, based upon the impact with the boards, shall be at the discretion of the Referee. … The onus is on the player (or goalkeeper) applying the check to ensure his opponent is not in a defenseless position and if so, he must avoid or minimize contact.
Now there is a stipulation about a defending player putting himself in danger by turning to the boards, but that didn’t happen as both Langlois and Olesky was battling each other for the puck as they raced toward the end boards. Even though Olesky’s head was down at the moment of Langlois’ hit it was the battle with Langlois that is the cause of Olesky’s head being down. With Olesky being injured a major penalty is appropriate. For those saying it should have been four minutes, there is no provision in the boarding rule for a double minor, and the “checking from behind” rule that was called is only a major penalty anyway.
The hit took away from what might have been the best played game by the WorSharks all season. Worcester completely dominated Hershey on all aspects of the game up until the penalty, with the Bears having just a few sporadic moments where the dominated the play. The tying goal by Connor Carrick with 89 second left in the second in one that goaltender Aaron Dell absolutely wants back, although the list of WorSharks skaters that want their attempts back for a second try is almost endless. Worcester had easily over a dozen great looks at the net and were it not for Bears goaltender Pheonix Copley this game would have been a laugher.
The playoffs is not usually a good time to start messing with your lineup, but WorSharks head coach Roy Sommer put on the ice a squad that had never played together before as an 18 man unit and it all worked to nearly perfection. Barring an undisclosed injury and a potential suspension to Langlois–unlikely, but still possible–Sommer should send those same 18 out again tonight vs the Bears.
The crowds in Worcester often lack in quantity but almost always make up for their small numbers with their enthusiasm, and Friday night was no exception. Despite it being the largest attended playoff game in the WorSharks era the 3,026 in the building were still outnumbered by empty seats, but the fans were louder than some of the better attended regular season games. Saturday’s crowd is expected to be even bigger. Hopefully they will have more to cheer about.
The three stars of the game were:
1. HER – 2 Nate Schmidt (gwg)
2. HER – 30 Pheonix Copley (41 saves win)
3. WOR – 29 Aaron Dell (20 saves loss)
The Sharkspage player of the game is Micheal Haley.
Even strength lines
Hershey 0 1 3 – 4
Worcester 1 0 0 – 1
1st Period-1, Worcester, Haley 1 (Goodrow, Tarasov), 19:46 (PP). Penalties-L. O’Brien Her (hooking), 2:37; Stephenson Her (hooking), 16:36; Mitchell Her (hooking), 18:20.
2nd Period-2, Hershey, Carrick 1 (Stephenson, L. O’Brien), 18:31. Penalties-Carrick Her (tripping), 1:29; Stollery Wor (tripping), 8:56.
3rd Period-3, Hershey, Schmidt 1 17:39 (PP). 4, Hershey, Galiev 1 (Schilling, Conner), 19:03 (PP). 5, Hershey, Brown 1 (Gazley, Newbury), 19:30 (PP EN). Penalties-Langlois Wor (major – checking from behind, game misconduct – checking from behind), 17:17.
Shots on Goal-Hershey 5-10-9-24. Worcester 14-17-11-42.
Power Play Opportunities-Hershey 3 / 5; Worcester 1 / 4.
Goalies-Hershey, Copley 1-0-0 (42 shots-41 saves). Worcester, Dell 0-1-0 (23 shots-20 saves).
Referees-Geno Binda (22), Keith Kaval (40).
Linesmen-Jack Millea (23), Alex Stagnone (7).