Yanni Gourde had two goals, Tim Kennedy had three assists, Brodie Reid had a Gordie Howe hat trick and Alex Stalock made 37 saves as the Worcester Sharks defeated the Portland Pirates 5-1 Saturday night at the DCU Center in a wild affair that saw the teams combine for 143 penalty minutes and 15 fighting major penalties. Danny Groulx and Curt Gogol also scored for the Sharks, who remained tied atop the Atlantic Division with the Manchester Monarchs.
Reid put the Sharks up 1-0 at 6:46 of the first period when he slid a backhanded shot through the wickets of Pirates goaltender Mark Visentin to cap off a give-and-go with Sharks rookie Freddie Hamilton during 4-on-4 play. Matt Tennyson was credited with the secondary assist on the goal, which was Reid's second of the season and caused 300 teddy bears to be tossed onto the ice from the 3,320 fans in attendance.
Near the end of the first period, Sharks captain John McCarthy was checked late by Pirates defenseman Mark Louis after a shot on net and went crashing head first into the end wall. The Sharks attempted to get back at Louis by sending out Frazer McLaren, Jimmy Bonneau, Curt Gogol and Sena Acolatse for an ensuing shift but the officials would not allow the change as the change was occurring during an icing play. McCarthy attempted to take his shift at the start of the second period but quickly returned to the Sharks bench and did not return for the rest of the game.
Tempers boiled over early in the second period as five fights broke out within an 84-second span. Gogol got a hold of and wrestled down Pirates rookie Chris Brown at 1:42 after Brown cross checked Kennedy from behind. 27-seconds later, McLaren dropped the gloves with Louis in a solid bout that saw Louis tag McLaren with a solid left hand before the two went tumbling down. On the ensuing face-off , Bonneau dropped the gloves with Pirates enforcer Joel Rechlicz in a marathon of a battle that had the DCU Center rocking. At 3:06, two fights broke out as Sena Acolatse pounded Pirates rookie Phil Lane into the ice with repeated left hands after Lane tried to go after Sharks rookie Freddie Hamilton, and Brandon Mashinter dropped Pirates big man Mathieu Brodeur for the TKO win.
Once play resumed, the Sharks took control of the game by scoring three goals in the middle frame. Groulx pushed the Sharks lead to 2-0 with a 5-on-3 power play goal, his second goal of the season, at 4:17 off a rifle of a shot from on top of the left face-off circle that got past Visentin, and was assisted by Kennedy and Sharks rookie Sebastian Stalberg.
Gourde extended the Sharks lead to 3-0 with his fourth goal of the season at 17:17 off a rebound in front of a Reid blast from the right point that was assisted by Acolatse. 90-seconds later, the Sharks went up 4-0 as Kennedy set up a streaking Gogol over the middle and Gogol went through the pads of Visentin for his third goal of the season.
In the third period, tempers began to flare up again when Louis skated in a from a mile away with his gloves off and gave a two handed slash to Acolatse up high after Acolatse had drilled Pirates rookie Brendan Shinniman with a solid hit. The slash caused Acolatse to go at it with Louis and both were assessed five minutes for fighting. Louis was not ejected for his baseball swing to Acolatse but was given an extra two minutes for slashing. On the ensuing Sharks power play, Gourde scored his second goal of the game at 7:18 as he corralled a Kennedy pass and buried home a shot from 10-feet out. Matt Irwin was credited with the secondary assist.
Midway through the period, Pirates head coach Ray Edwards began double shifting Rechlicz, who took a run at Sharks defenseman Taylor Doherty from behind at 11:47. Doherty got up and tagged Rechlicz with a solid punch. Rechlicz skated away after tussling with Mashinter and then skated in front of Stalock but the officials quickly intervened. However, Rechlicz broke free and skated over towards the Sharks bench, where he began taunting and throwing his equipment at the Sharks players, several of whom were holding Bonneau back on the bench. While this was going on, Pirates rookie Darian Dziurzynski pulled Reid down during their scrap and Reid appeared to have re-injured his shoulder on the play. Rechlicz was assessed 18 penalty minutes, including a 10-minute misconduct for continuing the altercation, while Reid and Dziurzynski got five each for fight fighting, and Doherty and Acolatse got two each for roughing.
On the ensuing face-off, Sharks defenseman Matt Pelech went after Pirates rookie Jordan Martinook and swung at anyone who dared to get in his way. Pelech was assessed 27 penalty minutes, including a misconduct for instigating and a game misconduct for being the aggressor. As Pelech was being escorted off the ice, Pelech pointed at the Pirates bench and gave them a piece of his mind.
With the outcome not in question, all eyes turned to Stalock, who was looking for his second shutout of the season. Unfortunately for Sharks fans, Pirates defenseman David Rundblad ruined Stalock's shutout bid with a goal at 13:45 .
NOTES: Shots were 38-29 in favor of the Pirates... The Sharks went 2-for-8 on the power play and 7-for-7 on the penalty kill... Stalock is now 8-3-2-0 with a 2.21 goals-against-average and .922 save percentage... The Sharks were assessed 78 penalty minutes while the Pirates were assessed 65... McLaren played in his 200th career AHL game (all with the Sharks) and picked up his franchise leading 50th fight... Jon Matsumoto (inj), Nick Petrecki (inj), Travis Oleksuk (scr) and James Livingston (scr) did not dress for the Sharks... This was the fourth of 12 meetings between the teams this season and the middle stretch of the teams playing each other four times in 22 days... The Sharks are now 1-4-1-1 on Saturday games this season, 3-1-0-0 against the Pirates, 5-3-1-0 at the DCU Center and 9-6-1-1 overall.
1. Yanni Gourde - Sharks (2-0-2)
2. Alex Stalock - Sharks (37 saves, win)
3. Brodie Reid - Sharks (1-1-2, Gordie Howe hat trick)