Tonight the Connecticut Whale played hosts to the visiting Worcester Sharks for a rare Wednesday night matchup as it marked the 500th game in the AHL Sharks franchise history. Tonight’s contest marked the third meeting of four on the season between the two clubs as the Connecticut Whale have a 2-0 lead on the season series. The Sharks entered the contest with sole possession of first place in the AHL’s Atlantic Division after a very emotional, physical, and hard fought 3-2 win over their divisional rivals Manchester Monarchs. In addition to being in first place, the Sharks also entered tonight’s match with a five game point streak on the line. Meanwhile, Connecticut entered tonight’s matchup ridding a two game loosing skid with their most recent lose at the hands of their interstate rivals to the north the Albany Devils who the AHL affiliate to the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. The Worcester Sharks were still without the services of Taylor Doherty, Nick Petrecki, and Danny Groulx as they remain nursing various injuries, while Jimmy Bonneau, Curt Gogol, Matt Irwin, and Jon Matsumoto were scratched from the lineup. Sharks forward #11 Tim Kennedy entered tonight with an eight game point streak on the line as he collected 14 points that included seven goals and seven assists. For the Whale top six forward #11 Kris Newbury entered the contest as the only Connecticut player who has averaged a point per game in his 21 games played on the season. For the goaltenders, Worcester Sharks head coach Roy Sommer elected to go with Harri Sateri who entered the contest with 4-4-1 3.23 .894 record, while Connecticut Whale put in Cameron Talbot 8-8-0 2.85 .915 record between the pipes.
In the early stages of the game, Connecticut jumped out in hurry as they put seven shots of rubber on Worcester’s goaltender Harri Sateri that caused him to make save after save. Connecticut seem to be on a mission in the first as they imposed their will against the Sharks caused Worcester’s defense to step up early to keep the game knotted at zero. In the first stanza, the Sharks struggled to establish their game as Connecticut continued to put pressure and control as Worcester was caught on their heels. In the first frame, Connecticut’s forward Michael Haley jumped Sharks defenseman Matt Pelech from behind that caused the games first fight of as both drop the gloves, each player exchanged jabs at one another but the fight went Pelech as both would get five for fighting and Haley was issued an additional two minutes for roughing Pelech from behind at 10:54 of the first. On their first man advantage opportunity, the Sharks came up short as Connecticut’s defense stepped up to keep the score at zero. Over four minutes later, Sharks Acolaste would get Worcester’s first penalty as he was called for a hook at 14:46 of the opener. The Connecticut Whale would put the Sharks pk unit to work quickly as Worcester’s net minder Sateri made a huge save to keep the Whale from scoring the first tally of the game. With less than a minute left in the first frame, Worcester would get their second power play opportunity as Connecticut’s defenseman Blake Parlett would go to the penalty box for tripping. As the period ended Worcester was unable to break 0-0 deadlock as they would carry over the rest of power play time into the middle frame. At the conclusion of the first, the Sharks best player on the ice was goalie Harri Sateri as he made 13 saves.
The Sharks entered the middle period with some carry over power play time that was awarded to them in the first. On the power play, the Sharks put Connecticut’s goaltender Talbot to work as Worcester peppered five shots of rubber on net and would be denied as they were unable to convert as Talbot made the saves. Shortly after Worcester came up short on their power play opportunity, Sharks forward Travis Oleksuk was called for a trip at 3:44 of the second. During Worcester’s shorthanded situation, Harri Sateri once again came up big for the Sharks to keep the game locked at zero. Moments after the Sharks killed off their third penalty of the game, another penalty was issued, this time to Connecticut’s J.T. Miller at 8:27. With Worcester an their third opportunity on the man advantage, the Whale’s pk unit once again denied the Sharks the opportunity to score the games first marker. As the period went on another penalty was called keeping both teams special teams extremely busy in the second period when Whale’s Brandon Seagal went to the sin bin for cross check at 14:47. While Connecticut was shorthanded they stepped up yet again as they stopped Worcester from scoring to protect their pk streak with 3 straight kills in tonight’s contest. With less than two minutes remaining of the second, Sharks went in to Connecticut’s zone on a 2 on 1 opportunity when Worcester’s James Livingston finally broke the deadlock as he scored the games first tally and his first goal of the season with the lone assist from defenseman Sena Acolaste who tallied his 12th assist of the season. In the final minute of the second another penalty was handed out as Worcester’s Travis Oleksuk got his second of the game for hooking. Connecticut would not score on the man advantage as time expired to end the middle frame. They would however carry over the rest of their power play into the final period. At the end of 40 minutes of play, the Connecticut Whale have a four shot lead on Worcester to make it a 24-20 margin.
When entering the final frame, the Sharks posted a 5-1-0-1 record when they have the lead after 2 periods of play, while the Connecticut Whale has put up a 1-7-1-0 record when they trail after 40 minutes. As the Whale entered the final period of play on the man advantage, Worcester’s penalty kill unit came up short as Connecticut tied the game up at one when forward Chad Kolarik stuffed in a rebound past Sateri, thus that ended his shutout bid. The goal marked Kolarik’s ninth of the season with assists from forward J.T. Miller who added his eight of the year and Slovakian forward Marek Hrivik as he added his 13th of the season at the 1:23 mark. Later in the period, Connecticut went in on a 3 on 1 into the Sharks zone as J.T. Miller would put the Whale ahead 2-1. Miller added his fifth goal of the season and second point of the night, with the assists from Hrivik as he would also add his second point of the night and increased his assist total to 14 of the year and Parlett who stamped his seventh. Over two minutes after the go ahead goal by Connecticut, the Whale’s defenseman Logan Pyett was sent to the box for cross check at 8:45. On their fourth man advantage opportunity, the Sharks met some more push back as they were unable to put a single shot on the Whale’s net as their power play frustrations continued. At the 12:48 mark of the final frame Sharks James Sheppard and Connecticut’s Blake Parlett would get tangled up in a scrum as both would get matching roughing minors that put both teams on 4 on 4 action for the first time of the contest. Both teams would not score on the four on four situation as the game remained 2-1 Whale. Shortly after both teams skated four aside, Connecticut’s Newbury would go off for a roughing and much liked the four previous man advantage opportunities for the Sharks, Worcester would come up short as they ended the night 0-5 on the power play. Worcester was unable to tie to the game as the Whale edged the Sharks by a 2-1 final. With tonight’s lose, the Sharks remained in first place of the Atlantic Division a third overall in the east. While the Connecticut Whale with their victory tonight maintained their third place position in the Northeast Division and moved into 11th place overall in the Eastern Conference. On Saturday night, Worcester will be ending their three game mini road trip as they faceoff against the Hershey Bears who are the Affiliated with the NHL’s Washington Capitals. Puck is set to drop at 7:00pm EST at the Giant Center. Lets Go Sharks!!!!!
3 Stars of the game:
1. CT – 10 J.T. Miller
2. CT – 42 Chad Kolarik
3. CT – 15 Marek Hrivik
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