Woo Rewind - Sharks stay hot in December, finish road trip 5-1-0-1

After registering six points {4-2-6} and a plus-6 rating in four games last week, Worcester Sharks forward Tommy Wingels was named the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending Dec. 18. Photo courtesy of www.sharksahl.com

Last week, the Worcester Sharks completed their season long seven game road trip by playing four games in six nights, including a three-in-three weekend. The Sharks finished the road trip 5-1-0-1, earning 11 out of 14 points and tied a franchise record with five straight road wins. The Sharks improved their record to 13-7-3-3 with 32 points and are in third place of the Atlantic Division of the AHL Eastern Conference.

On Tuesday night, the Sharks traveled to the Mass Mutual Center in Springfield, MA, to play the hosting Springfield Falcons in their third meeting of the season and skated away with a hard fought 2-1 victory. Benn Ferriero and Tommy Wingels scored for the Sharks while goalie Tyson Sexsmith {7-5-3, 1.84 goals against average, .931 save percentage} stopped 27-of-28 shots for the win.

Fireworks erupted just 2:06 into the game as Sharks forward Jimmy Bonneau dropped the gloves with Falcons forward Tim Spencer. The near minute battle saw both combatants land several good shots before exhaustion set in and were separated by the linesmen. The fight was Bonneau’s seventh of the season and Spencer’s second.

Ferriero extended his point streak {3-2-5} to three games with a power play goal, his ninth goal of the season, at 17:35 to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead. With Falcons defenseman David Savard serving a double minor for high-sticking, Sharks defenseman Sean Sullivan fired a shot on net from the top of the point of the Falcons zone that was deflected in front by Sharks forward John McCarthy but Falcons goalie Manny Legace made the save. The rebound jumped over McCarthy's stick but came right to Ferriero, who had crashed the net. With traffic in front of Legace, Ferriero fired a quick snap shot on net from deep inside the left face-off circle that beat Legace for the goal. With the assist, McCarthy extended his point streak {1-5-6} to three games.

Wingels extended the Sharks lead to 2-0 with a short handed goal, his eighth goal of the season, at 19:21. With Sharks forward James Livingston in the penalty box for roughing, the Sharks penalty killers applied a strong forecheck that caused the Falcons power play unit to struggle. Sharks defenseman Taylor Doherty's clear attempt was corralled in the neutral zone by Sharks forward Tony Lucia, who skated into the Falcons zone along the left side 2-on-2 with Wingels. From the left side of the left face-off circle, Lucia centered the puck in front to a cutting Wingels, who was initially denied by Legace but Wingels knocked the rebound past Legace’s pad for the goal. With the assist, Lucia extended his point streak to six games {2-4-6}.

Just 10 seconds later, fireworks emerged again as Falcons forward Cody Bass dropped the gloves with Sharks forward Curt Gogol. Bass got a hold of Gogol right off the bat and before Gogol could free himself or recover, Bass landed three shots that knocked Gogol down. However, Bass was assessed an additional two minutes for instigating, which infuriated Falcons head coach Rob Riley. The fight was Gogol’s seventh of the season and Bass' second.

Seconds after serving Bass’ instigating penalty, Falcons forward Cam Atkinson corralled a loose puck at center ice, skated into the Sharks zone and was awarded a penalty shot at 1:40 of the second period. The call caused Sharks play-by-play announcer Eric Lindquist to say on the air, "I’m going to bite my tongue on that call." On the penalty shot, Atkinson skated in on Sexsmith, brought the puck from his left back to his right and scored to cut the Sharks lead in half. The goal was Atkinson’s 13th of the season.

At 17:15, Bass answered the bell and dropped the gloves again, this time with Sharks defenseman Matt Pelech, who was standing up for Gogol. The 35 second battle went to Pelech, who dominated Bass with a mixture of body and overhand shots. The fight was Pelech’s fourth of the season and Bass' third.

In the third period, the Falcons outshot the Sharks 12-7 and had several chances to tie the game with the extra skater in the final 30 seconds but Sexsmith remained unfazed and held his ground.

For the game, the Sharks outshot the Falcons 31-28, were 1-for-5 with the man advantage and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill... Prior to the game, San Jose assigned goalie Antero Niittymaki to Worcester on a conditioning assignment... Niittymaki {scr}, Mike Moore {inj}, Cam MacIntyre {inj}, Mike Connolly {inj}, Brandon Mashinter {inj} and Ben Guite {inj} did not dress for the Sharks...The Sharks now have 39 fighting majors through 23 games... The Sharks only dressed 17 skaters.

As a bonus, here is a clip of Niittymaki in practice, courtesy of the SharksVision YouTube channel.


On Friday night, the Sharks traveled to the Times Union Center in Albany, NY, to play the hosting Albany Devils in their second meeting of the season and skated away with a 5-1 victory. Wingels, Marek Viedensky and Jack Combs, who was signed to a PTO on Dec. 14, all scored for the Sharks while Niittymaki stopped 26-of-27 shots for the win in his first game of the 2011-12 season. In addition, Combs {2-0-2}, Wingels {2-0-2} and Brodie Reid {0-2-2} all had multi-point games for the Sharks.

Steve Zalewski, who was drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the fifth round {153 overall} of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and played in Worcester from 2007-11, scored his eighth goal of the season just 76 seconds into the game to give the Devils an early 1-0 lead. With the puck inside the Sharks zone, Devils defenseman Joe Sova fired a shot on net from the top of the point that Niittymaki stopped. However, Niittymaki left a rebound that Devils forward Joe Whitney whiffed on with a backhand attempt. Maintaining possession of the puck inside the trapezoid, Whitney centered the puck out in front to Zalewski, who put the puck into the open net from deep inside the right face-off circle.

Just 13 seconds later, Combs, who led the ECHL with 37 points {17-20-37} in 23 games played with the Colorado Eagles, tied the game at 1-1 with his first career AHL goal on his first shot of his first shift with the Sharks. After taking an outlet pass from Sharks defenseman Nick Petrecki, Reid skated into the Devils zone along the right side and sent a centering pass that both Sharks forward Nathan Moon and a Devils defenseman missed. Combs, who entered the zone on the left side, corralled the loose puck in the slot, deked out Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid and put a backhand shot into the open net for the goal.

Combs scored again at 15:10 to give the Sharks a 2-1 lead, causing Lindquist to yell on the air in excitement, "YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME… WHERE HAS COMBS BEEN ALL SEASON?" After taking an outlet pass from Moore, Reid entered the Devils zone in the slot and left a drop pass inside the right face-off circle for Moon, who quickly passed the puck to Combs, who fired a quick shot on net from in the slot that beat Kinkaid on the blocker side. The goal held up as the game winning goal.

20 seconds into the second period, Sharks defenseman Sena Acolatse dropped the gloves with Devils defenseman Stephane Veilleux after Veilleux took a run at Wingels. The 35 second scrap started near Niittymaki’s goal crease and ended in front of the Devils bench after Acolatse landed five body shots that dropped Veilleux. The fight was Acolatse’s fourth of the season.

Wingels extended the Sharks lead to 3-1 with his ninth goal of the season at 11:22. From center ice, McCarthy dumped the puck into the Devils zone as Ferriero applied a strong forecheck that caused Devils defenseman Eric Gelinas to turn the puck over with a careless backhander from behind Kinkaid’s net. McCarthy corralled the loose puck in the left corner and sent a centering pass to Wingels, who fired a quick shot on net from the left slot that beat Kinkaid top shelf. The goal extended Wingels’ goal scoring streak to four games.

At 14:45, Viedensky extended the Sharks lead to 4-1 with his second goal of the season. Rushing into the Devils zone along the left side, Moore skated in on Kinkaid, went forehand-to-backhand and tried to stuff the puck in on Kinkaid. Viedensky followed up on Moore’s attempt and poked in the loose rebound for the goal.

Wingels scored again at 3:39 of the third period to make it 5-1 Sharks. After winning a face-off inside the Devils zone, Wingels’ backhand wrap around attempt missed the net but Acolatse held the puck in at the top of the center point and fired a quick turnaround shot on net that Wingels tipped in front for the goal.

For the game, the Sharks outshot the Devils 38-27, were 0-for-3 with the man advantage and 1-for-1 on the penalty kill... MacIntyre {inj}, Connolly {inj}, Mashinter {inj}, Guite {inj}, Brian O’Hanley {scr} and Harri Sateri {scr} did not dress for the Sharks... Moore returned to the Sharks lineup after missing 12 games with an injury and registered an assist... Lucia had his six game point streak come to an end {2-4-6}... Ferriero {3-3-6}, McCarthy {1-6-7}, Wingels {6-1-7} extended their point streak to four games... The Sharks now have 40 fighting majors through 24 games.

As a bonus, here are the highlights of the game, courtesy of the Albany Devils YouTube channel.


On Saturday night, the Sharks traveled to the Broom County Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton, NY, to play the hosting Binghamton Senators in their final meeting of the season and skated away with a 5-2 victory, sweeping the season series. Reid, McCarthy, Wingels, Sullivan and Moon all scored for the Sharks while Sexsmith stopped 31-of-33 shots for the win. In addition, Combs {0-2-2}, Moon {1-1-2}, Sullivan {1-1-2} and Wingels {1-1-2} all had multi-point games for the Sharks.

Senators forward Mike Bartlett gave the Senators a 1-0 lead at 15:28 of the first period with his second goal of the season. After winning the battle for the puck along the left boards inside the Sharks zone, Senators forward David Dziurzynski sent a bank pass out to the top of the left point to Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki, who fired a one-timer on net that Bartlett deflected in for the goal from the left side of the goal crease.

In the second period, the Sharks scored three unanswered goals in a 5:03 span to take a 3-1 lead. Reid scored his third goal of the season at 5:05 to tie the game at 1-1. After a neutral zone turnover, Combs skated into the Senators zone along the left side 2-on-1 with Reid. From inside the left slot, Combs passed the puck over to Reid, who fired a one-timer on net from the right slot that beat Senators goalie Mike McKenna top shelf on the blocker side for the goal.

Just 80 seconds later, McCarthy gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead with his fifth goal of the season. After winning a face-off inside the Senators zone, Wingels fired a shot on net from the top of the right point that was blocked in front. McCarthy, who was positioned deep inside the right face-off circle in the right slot, corralled the loose puck and fired a quick shot on net from 10-feet out that beat McKenna for the goal.

At 10:08, Wingels extended the Sharks lead to 3-1 with his 11th goal of the season. Corralling an outlet pass from Sullivan, Wingels entered the Senators zone along the left side, skated into the left face-off circle, curled to his left, skated towards the face-off circle dot and fired a quick shot on net that beat McKenna inside the near post on the glove side for the goal, which held up as the game winning goal.

Senators forward Mark Parrish cut the Sharks lead in half with a power play goal, his ninth goal of the season, at 12:16. With Lucia in the penalty box for hooking, Senators forward Rob Klinkhammer entered the Sharks zone on the right side, carried the puck behind Sexsmith’s net and set up the Senators power play unit. Holding the puck in the left face-off circle, Senators forward Corey Locke sent a backhand pass to Klinkhammer, who quickly passed the puck to Parrish, who ripped a one-timer on net from inside the left face-off circle that beat Sexsmith on the glove side for the goal.

At 16:50, Sullivan was awarded a penalty shot after having his legs taken out by Senators forward Stephane Da Costa on a short-handed breakaway attempt. On the penalty shot, Sullivan skated right down the middle on McKenna and ripped the shot top shelf on the glove side for his third goal of the season. The goal was the first road penalty shot score in franchise history.

Moon sealed the Sharks victory with a power play goal, his fourth goal of the season, at 19:03 of the third period. With Senators forward Brandon Svendsen in the penalty box for holding, Moon entered the Senators zone along the left side, skated in on McKenna, went to his forehand and stuffed the puck past McKenna for the goal.

For the game, the Sharks outshot the Senators 39-33, were 1-for-4 with the man advantage and 3-for-4 on the penalty kill... MacIntyre {inj}, Connolly {inj}, Mashinter {inj}, Guite {inj}, Doherty {scr} and Niittymaki {scr} did not dress for the Sharks... Ferriero {3-4-7}, McCarthy {2-6-8} and Wingels {7-2-9} extended their point streak to five games... Gogol dropped the gloves with Senators defenseman Tim Conboy at 4:03 of the third period, giving the Sharks 41 fighting majors through 25 games... Combs has registered four points {2-2-4} in two games with the Sharks.

As a bonus, here is an interview with Moore prior to the Senators game, courtesy of the SharksVision YouTube Channel.


On Sunday afternoon, the Sharks concluded their road trip by traveling to the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, NH, to play the hosting Manchester Monarchs in their sixth meeting of the season and were defeated 3-1. Combs scored the lone goal for the Sharks, giving him five points {3-2-5} in three games with the Sharks and Niittymaki stopped 25-of-28 shots in the loss.

Monarchs forward Brandon Kozun gave the Monarchs an early 1-0 lead with his eighth goal of the season just 121 seconds into the game. Intercepting Sharks defenseman Matt Irwin’s pass for Lucia at the blue line of the Sharks zone, Monarchs forward Robert Czarnik sent a pass over to the top of the point to linemate Dwight King, who skated in and fired a shot on net from on top of the left face-off circle that Kozun deflected in front past Niittymaki for the goal.

40 seconds after Kozun’s goal, Bonneau dropped the gloves with Monarchs forward Justin Johnson in a spirited 40 second scrap that started at center ice and ended in front of the Sharks bench. The fight was Bonneau’s and Johnson's eighth of the season and marked the 12th straight game that the Sharks have had a fighting major.

Three seconds after Bonneau’s fight, Gogol dropped the gloves with Monarchs forward Chris Cloud in a brief scrap that Gogol won with three overhand rights before losing his balance and falling to the ice. The fight was Gogol's ninth of the season and Cloud's first.

At 7:23, Combs tied the game at 1-1 with this third goal of the season. After winning the battle for the loose puck along the left side of the Monarchs zone, Wingels got the puck over to Combs in the left corner. Combs skated in on Monarchs goalie Jeff Zatkoff and fired a backhand shot on net that Zatkoff stopped. However, Combs followed up his own shot and banked the puck off of Zatkoff’s skate for the goal.

King regained the lead for the Monarchs with his fourth goal of the season at 5:59 of the second period. Corralling an outlet feed from Monarchs defenseman Thomas Hickey, King skated into the slot of the Sharks zone 2-on-1 with Kozun as the Sharks were going for a line change. King sent a drop pass to the left face-off circle to Kozun, who passed the puck back to King, who beat Niittymaki under the glove with a quick shot for the goal.

At 8:47 of the third period, Monarchs forward Linden Vey extended the Monarchs lead to 3-1 with his seventh goal of the season. Entering the Sharks zone along the right side, Monarchs forward Ray Kaunisto skated in 2-on-1 with Vey as Petrecki was the lone Shark back. Kaunisto centered the puck in front to Vey, who put the puck over Niittymaki’s glove from on top of the goal crease for the goal.

The Sharks pulled Niittymaki for an extra skater with 2:36 remaining in the game but only generated two shots on net and generated one scoring chance off a Mashinter shot that hit Zatkoff in the mask.

For the game, the Sharks outshot the Monarchs 41-28, were 0-for-3 with the man advantage and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill... MacIntyre {inj}, Connolly {inj}, Sullivan {inj}, Guite {inj}, O’Hanley {scr} and Sexsmith {scr} did not dress for the Sharks... The Sharks now have 43 fighting majors through 26 games, the most in the AHL... Wingels extended his point streak to six games {7-3-10} while McCarthy {2-6-8} and Ferriero {3-4-7} had their five game point streaks snapped... Mashinter returned to the Sharks lineup after missing 11 games due to injury... Irwin was loaned back to Worcester from San Jose on Saturday... The Sharks are 23rd in the AHL on the power play at 15.7%, 13th on the penalty kill at 82.7% and third in penalty minutes with 20.3 per game.

As a bonus, here is a clip of the Sharks' Booster Club Christmas Party, courtesy of the SharksVision YouTube channel.


WORCESTER SHARKS ONLINE STORE {Photo courtesy of www.sharksahl.com}4246_medium
If you need last minute gift ideas or stocking stuffers, be sure to check out the new Worcester Sharks online store that launched Dec. 14. The online store features all the times sold at the team store inside the DCU Center, such as dress shirts up to 5xl, t-shirts, hats, jerseys, jackets, novelties, sweaters/fleeces and ladies clothing.

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