Rookies Travis Oleksuk and Sebastian Stalberg scored for the Worcester Sharks in the second period but it wasn't enough as the Sharks were defeated 4-2 in their season opener Friday night by the defending Calder Cup Champion Norfolk Admirals, who extended their regular season winning streak to 29 games.
Alex Stalock stopped 21-of-24 shots in net and James Sheppard added two assists for the Sharks, who have now lost nine straight road games dating back to last season.
The Admirals, who have not lost a regular season game since Feb. 5 when they were the AHL affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning, took an early 1-0 lead just 127 seconds into the game as John Mitchell beat Stalock for his first goal of the season with a quick wrist shot from inside the left slot off a 2-on-1 rush with Devante Smith-Pelly.
At 8:09 of the first period, the game was delayed 15 minutes due to a pane of glass next to the Sharks bench being broken by the skate of Sheppard after a collision with Mitchell. A 10 player scrum ensued but luckily, cooler heads prevailed as the players realized there was glass on the ice.
Shortly after play resumed, Peter Holland extended the Admirals lead to 2-0 at 12:47 with his first goal of the season. Off a Sharks turnover in the neutral zone, Holland rushed into the Sharks zone on the left side and fired a quick snap shot from near the left face-off circle dot that beat Stalock.
At 15:41 of the second period, Oleksuk cut the Admirals lead in half with a power play goal, his first career goal, as he was able to get in front of Admirals goaltender Frederik Andersen and re-directed Matt Irwin's blast from the top of the left point. Sheppard was credited with the secondary assist.
Just 2:52 later, Stalberg tied the game with his first goal of the season off a rocket of a shot from the high right slot that fooled Andersen and went in just under the crossbar. Sheppard and Stalock were credited with the assists.
Early in the third period, Matt Pelech dropped the gloves with Troy Bodie after Pelech drilled Chris Wagner from behind into the boards after the whistle. Pelech landed a couple good shots during the encounter but neither combatant did much damage.
Later in the period, Bodie put the Admirals up 3-2 with his first goal of the season at 10:41 as he was able to get in front and deflect Jay Rosehill's centering feed from the right side past Stalock for what held up as the game winning goal.
The Sharks pulled Stalock with one minute remaining for the extra attacker but were not able to get the tying goal. Kyle Palmieri sealed the Admirals win with an empty-net goal at 19:56.
NOTES: Shots were 25-21 in favor of the Admirals... The Sharks went 1-for-3 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill... Jimmy Bonneau (susp), Brodie Reid (inj), Danny Groulx (inj), James Livingston (scr), Curt Gogol (scr) and Daniil Tarasov (scr) did not dress for the Sharks... The Sharks are now 4-2-0-1 in seven career opening night games, all of which have been on the road... Prior to the start of the game, John McCarthy was named the fifth captain in team history... Pelech and Tim Kennedy will wear the alternate "A" on the road while Bracken Kearns and Jon Matsumoto will wear the "A" at home... The Sharks are now 11-7-1 all-time vs. the Admirals... This was the first of four meetings between these teams this season.
1. Troy Brodie - Admirals (1-0-1)
2. Peter Holland - Admirals (1-0-1)
3. Sebastian Stalberg - Sharks (1-0-1)