John McCarthy scored the game-winning-goal at 18:54 of the third period and Harri Sateri made 35 saves in net for his sixth win of the season as the Worcester Sharks defeated the Manchester Monarchs 3-2 on New Year's Eve at the Verizon Wireless Arena. Jon Matsumoto and Freddie Hamilton also scored for the Sharks, who extended their winning streak to three games for the first time this season and are one point behind the Portland Pirates for first place in the Atlantic Division.
Seconds after Sateri robbed Monarchs forward Brandon Kozun of a goal from point blank range on two spectacular saves, Matsumoto put the Sharks up 1-0 at 6:56 of the first period with his eighth goal of the season off a quick snap shot from on top of the face-off circles that got through a screen and beat Monarchs goaltender Peter Mannino. Sharks defenseman Denny Urban, who was signed to a PTO before the game, was credited with the lone assist.
Hamilton extended the lead to 2-0 at 9:50 with a laser of a shot from just outside the right face-off circle that beat Mannino blocker side for his fourth goal of the season and first professional power play goal. James Sheppard and Matt Tennyson were credited with the assists and Tennyson is now second amongst AHL rookies with 10 power play assists.
Even though the Sharks led 2-0 at the end of the first period, Sateri stood on his head in making 11 saves as the Sharks were outshot by the Monarchs 11-4. In the second period, the physical play began to pick up and the Monarchs cut the Sharks lead in half when alternate captain Thomas Hickey beat Sateri glove side with a wrist shot from the center point at 11:25 for a power play goal, his third goal of the season.
A scary moment occurred at 12:55 when Sharks forward Curt Gogol was blindsided with an intentional head shot at full speed by Monarchs forward Andy Andreoff, who was assessed a match penalty for checking to the head. Gogol laid motionless on the ice for several minutes before being placed on a backboard and stretchered out by medical personnel. Gogol was able to give a thumbs up as he was being taken off the ice and received a round of applause from the fans inside the Verizon Wireless Arena.
Despite having a five minute power play that also included two minutes of 5-on-3 play, the Sharks were unable to score. At 19:12, Kozun tied the game with his ninth goal of the season off a breakaway that saw Kozun skate down the right side, cut in front, go backhand-to-forehand and beat Sateri five-hole. Shots after two periods were 25-10 in favor of the Monarchs.
In the third period, Sateri made 12 more saves, including several on a four-minute Monarchs power play midway through the period. With the game still tied nearing the final minute of the period, Mannino misplayed the puck behind his own net and Sharks alternate captain Tim Kennedy centered the puck in front for McCarthy, who tipped the puck into the net at 18:54 for his fifth goal of the season. Sharks defenseman Matt Pelech, who made the goal possible by keeping the puck inside the Monarchs zone, was credited with the secondary assist.
NOTES: Shots were 37-18 in favor of the Monarchs.. The Sharks went 1-for-5 on the power play and 4-for-5 on the penalty kill... Sateri is now 6-6-2-1 with a 2.85 goals-against-average and .909 save percentage... Urban has two points (0-2-2) in his two games with the Sharks... Sheppard has eight points (5-3-8) in his last seven games... Matsumoto extended his point streak to three games (2-2-4)... Danny Groulx (inj), Taylor Doherty (inj), Nick Petrecki (inj), Sena Acolatse (inj), Travis Oleksuk (inj), Yanni Gourde (scr) and Jimmy Bonneau (scr) did not dress for the Sharks... This was the seventh of 12 meetings between the teams this season and the third in the last six days... The Sharks are 5-2-0-0 against the Monarchs this season, 13-5-1-1 against the Atlantic Division, 10-6-0-1 on the road and 17-11-1-2 with 37 points overall.
1. Harri Sateri - Sharks (35 saves, win)
2. John McCarthy - Sharks (1-0-1, GWG)
3. Brandon Kozun - Monarchs (1-0-1)