Tonight marked the first of four meetings of the season for the Worcester Sharks and Hershey Bears. In addition, it also marked the first of the season as the Bears played hosts to the San Jose Sharks AHL affiliate. Coach Roy Sommer elected to start #32 Alex Stalock in net as his most recent victory at the Giant Center dated back on November 24th, 2010 where he stopped 41 of 43 shots he faced in a game that featured 30 minutes of penalties as Stalock came out on top with a 3-2 win. The struggling Sharks net minder entered tonight’s contest with just a single win in his last five starts and held an 8-5-1-1 record on the season. For the Hershey Bears goaltender Braden Holtby entered the contest who has won his last three starts with the most recent victories courtesy to back to back starts against the St. John Ice Caps last Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
Just at the start of the game, there was equipment issue at the Giant Center with the time clock that caused a short delay. After the delay was over, on the games first shift, the Bears won the puck and went in the Sharks zone as Hershey and opened the scoring to put the Bears up 1-0 early in the first. Goal was scored from the point by rookie Cameron Shilling as he tallied his third of the season with at 36 seconds and the assists were awarded to Jeff Taffe and Ryan Potulny. Less than five minutes later, Hershey’s Zach Hamill got the games first penalty when he was called for a two-minute slash and that put Worcester on the games first power play at the 4:41 of the first. On the power play for the Sharks, forward Jon Matsumoto scored on a deflection to put the puck past Holtby to tie the game up at 1 with assists from Tennyson and Oleksuk at 6:17 of the opener. The goal marked Matsumoto’s fourth of the season. Over four minutes later on a deflection in front of the Worcester’s net, Hershey’s Mike Cameron scored to put the Bears ahead once again to make 2-1 at 10:33 of the first frame. With that go ahead goal it marked Cameron’s third of the season. Shortly after the Bears went ahead, Worcester’s Matsumoto nearly scored his second of the game as Holtby shut the door to keep it 2-1 Bears. On the following shift for Hershey, they went in the Worcester zone on a three on two as Hamill fired the puck past Stalock to make 3-1 Bears at 13:26 to make it his ninth of the year with assists from Syner and DiSalvatore. Over a minute following Hershey’s third goal of the game, Worcester’s Brandon Mashinter and Hershey’s Alex Berry drop the gloves for the game’s first fight that would end in a draw as they would each get five minutes for fighting. Immediately following the first fight of the game, Yanni Gourde of the Sharks vs Matt Pope of the Bears connected with one another to make it the second fight of the night as Gourde would get the knockdown blow as the two of them would just two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct at 14:28. One second after the the send fight, Tam of Worcester went off to the sin bin for a slashing minor. On the man advantage for the Bears, they were unable to convert as the scored remained at 3-1 Hershey. With less than a minute to go in the first, Stafford of Hershey went to the box for hooking and as they period died down, Worcester would carry over the remaining power play time into the second stanza. As both teams went into the first int, Hershey edged out Worcester on the shot clock with a 9-8 advantage.
The Sharks entered the middle frame on the man advantage thanks to minor that was assessed to the Bears from the previous period. While Worcester was on the power play, they too were unable to convert to cut into the Bears 3-1 lead. At the early stages of the middle period, the third fight of the game ensued as Tam of Worcester and Mitchell from Hershey would go at one another with Tam getting the best shots for decision as both would get five for fighting. During the scrap between Tam and Carmen, the Bears were called for an extra penalty when the refs saw a slash that was committed by Kundratek at 3:23. On the power play for Worcester, James Sheppard scored as he blasted it from the high slot at 4:05 to cut the Bears lead to one as the score became 3-2 Hershey. The goal by Sheppard made it his fourth of the season with assists from Matsumoto and Tennyson. Shortly after Sheppard’s goal, Pelech went it on Holtby to try to tie the game as the Hershey net minder made a huge save to keep it at 3-2. Moments later Worcester would get another power play opportunity as Hershey was called for delay of game. On their fourth power play opportunity the Sharks would come up short as they were unable to put the puck past Braden Holtby to keep the score at 3-2 Bears. At 8:43 of the second, Hamill was called for delay of game as Worcester went on the man advantage. During the Sharks power play opportunity they came up short as the pk unit of the Bears stepped up to protect their one goal lead. Following the successful penalty kill by Hershey another penalty was charged to the Worcester Sharks as Livingston called for cross checking at the 12:00 mark. The Bears would come up short as the Sharks pk unit stopped the Bears from adding to their one goal lead. Shortly after Worcester killed of the penalty to Livingston, Mikael Tam would go to the box for holding to put the Worcester pk unit back to work. While Worcester was shorthanded, the opportunity presented itself as they went in on Holtby on a 2 on 1 as Kearns fired a shot that went wide that caused the Bears to go into the Worcester’s zone with a 2 on 1 of their own as Stalock made a huge save to keep the score at 3-2 Hershey Bears lead. In the dying seconds of the second Sharks Captain McCarthy nearly tied it at two as the puck hit the post as time expired as the score remained 3-2 Bears. As the two teams went into games final intermission Worcester overtook Hershey on the shot clock with a 21-14 margin.
Entering the final frame of the game, the Sharks were 5-6-0-1 when trailing after two periods this season and marked it the best in the AHL when coming from behind. As the period went on, Worcester’s shot clock advantage increased as they lead the Bears with a 24-16. In the final frame, Worcester would get the periods first penalty as Bracken Kearns would go off for interference at 4:41 of the third period as Hershey went on its fourth power play of the night, just 30 seconds into Hershey’s man advantage, Bears Jon DiSalvatore is called for high sticking as both teams would skate a 1:30 of 4-on-4. Shortly after the two teams skated 4 aside, Worcester went on a brief 30 second pp as the Bears pk unit stepped up to keep at 3-2 Hershey lead. At 9:44 of the final period, Hershey’s Marshall went to the box for tripping to put Worcester back on the power play. Just three seconds into the man advantage Tennyson fired a shot from the point that deflected off of Sheppard’s stick to put puck past Holtby on the far side to tie the game up a 3 apiece. The goal marked it Sheppard’s second of the night a fifth of the year with the assists from Tennyson and Oleksuk. Less than three minutes later, Sharks forward Brandon Mashinter would go to box for a roughing minor at 12:32 of the third. During the shorthanded situation for Worcester, the Sharks went in for their second 2 on 1 shorthanded attempt as Kearns was unable to put the rubber past Holtby as the game remained locked at 3-3. Business picked in the late stages of the final stanza as both teams stepped up their attacks thus keeping each other on their toes with end to end action. The Sharks Brandon Mashinter took advantage when an opportunity presented itself with breakaway chance as he would get hooked from behind and was awarded a penalty shot at 2:01 left in the third period. On the penalty shot situation Mashinter’s shot was stopped by Holtby with a spectacular save by the Hershey goaltender to keep at a 3-3 deadlock. The contest would go into overtime with Worcester outshooting Hershey at 32-22. In the short overtime period, there was no scoring as Hershey put three shots on Stalock. As the extra time expired, the game would be decided in the shootout competition round In the shootout round, Sharks Jon Matsumoto would get the lone goal to seal the deal for the Sharks as they would complete to comeback with a 4-3 victory.
3 Stars of the game:
1. WOR – 15 James Sheppard
2. WOR – 5 Matt Tennyson
3. HER – 19 Zach Hamill
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