Bracken Kearns scored his team leading seventh goal of the season and Alex Stalock made 30 saves in net but it wasn't enough as the Worcester Sharks were defeated 6-1 by the Syracuse Crunch Sunday evening at the DCU Center. With the loss, the Sharks fell one point behind the Manchester Monarchs for first place of the Atlantic Division.
The Crunch scored three times in the opening 6:16 to take a commanding 3-0 lead, two of of which were scored by Crunch rookie J.T. Brown, who registered the first Crunch hat trick of the season. Brown put the Crunch up 1-0 at 2:14 when he capped off a 2-on-1 rush by firing the puck past Stalock's glove on the Crunch's first shot on net. Brown struck again at 5:55 when he was the beneficiary of Jared Nightingale's blocked shot from the right point that found him all alone in front with a wide open night to shoot into. Just 21-seconds later, Crunch forward Tyler Johnson made it 3-0 with his 12th goal of the season off a face-off win inside the Sharks zone that beat Stalock through the pads.
Kearns stopped the bleeding with his goal at 16:37 as he corralled a loose rebound in-between the face-off circles off a Matt Pelech blast from the right point and fired the puck past Crunch goaltender Dustin Tokarski. Tim Kennedy was credited with the secondary assist for his team leading 12th of the season.
Midway through the second period at 9:57, Pelech was assessed a match penalty for a check to the head of Crunch defenseman Mike Barberio, giving the Crunch a five-minute power play advantage. At 13:33, Johnson scored his second goal of the game when he poked the puck past Stalock after Stalock appeared to have had the puck covered for several seconds but didn't get a whistle from referee Jamie Koharski. The non-whistle infuriated Sharks players, most notably Matt Irwin, who gave Koharski a piece of his mind and was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
In the third period, the Crunch went for the jugular as Dmitry Korobov blasted a shot from the point through a screen in front for a power play goal, his second goal of the season, at 14:05. Brown achieved the hat trick at 17:31 with a tip in off a nice feed from linemate Brett Connolly.
NOTES: Shots were 36-26 in favor of the Crunch... The Sharks went 0-for-3 on the power play and 3-for-5 on the penalty kill... Stalock is now 8-4-2-0 with a 2.50 goals-against-average and .913 save percentage... Frazer McLaren engaged in his fourth fight of the season and 51st as a Shark when he fought Nightingale at 17:44 of the first period... With the one fight, the Sharks now have 25 through 18 games... Pelech picked up his first point of the season with the primary assist on the Kearns goal and leads the AHL in penalty minutes with 87, 37 of which have come in the last two games... Kennedy extended his point streak to three games (1-5-6) with the secondary assist on Kearns' goal... Curt Gogol was assessed 12 penalty minutes late in the third period (two for elbowing and a misconduct for continuing the altercation)... Jon Matsumoto (inj), Nick Petrecki (inj), John McCarthy (inj) and James Livingston (scr) did not dress for the Sharks... This was the first of two meetings this season between the teams... The Sharks are 3-1-0-0 on Sunday games this season, 0-1-0-0 vs. the Crunch, 5-4-1-0 at the DCU Center and 9-7-1-1 with 20 points overall.
1. J.T. Brown - Crunch (3-1-4, hat trick, gwg)
2. Tyler Johnson - Crunch (2-0-2)
3. Brett Connolly - Crunch (0-3-3)