Woo Rewind - Sharks bounce back, coach Roy Sommer wins 500 and Alex Stalock returns

Worcester Sharks forward Brandon Mashinter battles for the puck in front of Portland Pirates goalie Justin Pogge at the DCU Center on Feb. 12. Photo courtesy of Jim Collins of www.telegram.com

Last week, the Worcester Sharks played a three-in-three and earned four points out of a possible six. As a result, the Sharks remain in third place of the Atlantic Division of the AHL Eastern Conference with an overall record of 23-15-4-5 with 55 points.

The Sharks are 15 points behind the division leading St. John's IceCaps but are only three points behind the second place Manchester Monarchs {The IceCaps and Monarchs have played three and six more games than the Sharks respectively}.

The Sharks' three-in-three started Friday night {Feb. 10} at the DCU Center as the Sharks hosted the visiting Monarchs in their ninth meeting of the season and were defeated 3-1. Jack Combs , who was signed to an AHL Contract on Feb. 7, had the lone goal for the Sharks while goaltender Harri Sateri {11-8-0, 2.58 goals against average, .908 save percentage} stopped 25-of-28 shots.

The fireworks started early as Sharks enforcer Jimmy Bonneau dropped the gloves with Monarchs enforcer Justin Johnson at 2:32 of the first period. The 30 second draw marked the fifth time this season Bonneau has fought Johnson and was both men's 16th fight of the season.

Monarchs forward Stefan Legein gave the Monarchs a 1-0 lead with his power play goal, seventh goal of the season, at 8:54. With Sharks defenseman Matt Pelech in the penalty box for high-sticking, the Monarchs held the puck inside the Sharks zone, and Monarchs defenseman Patrick Mullen fired a shot on net from on top of the right face-off circle. The puck deflected off the stick of Monarchs forward Justin Azevedo, and went right to Legein, who was positioned at the right side of the goal crease. Legein quickly shot the puck into the open net for the goal before Sharks forward Mike Connolly could stop the puck from crossing the goal line.

Fireworks reappeared at 14:40 as Sharks forward Curt Gogol dropped the gloves with Monarchs forward Richard Clune. The spirited 22 second bout saw Gogol absorb a lot of jabs from Clune while trying to go for the knockout punch with one of his haymakers. The fight was both men's 14th of the season.

Just 53 seconds into the second period, Brandon Kozun extended the Monarchs lead to 2-0 with his 13th goal of the season. Entering the Sharks zone on the left side, Monarchs forward Linden Vey sent a pass from the left half wall to Kozun, who fired a quick snap shot on net from on top of the face-off circles that beat Sateri on the blocker side for the goal.

At 11:29, Pelech dropped the gloves with Monarchs defenseman Jordan Hill after Pelech leveled Monarchs captain Marc-Andre Cliche with a solid check. The 15 second scrap was dominated by Pelech, who pounded Hill into the ice with repeated overhand rights. The fight was Pelech's seventh of the season.

Combs cut the Monarchs lead in half with a power play goal, his ninth goal of the season, at 18:42 on the Sharks' second shot on goal of the period. With Clune in the penalty box for boarding, the Sharks got their first shot on net of the period after Andrew Murray fired a rocket of a slap shot on net from on top of the face-off circles that Monarchs goalie Jeff Zatkoff stopped. Combs corralled the loose rebound in front and fired a backhanded shot on net that beat Zatkoff through the pads for the goal. The two shots by Murray and Combs were the Sharks' only shots on net in the second period. Nathan Moon was credited with the secondary assist.

Building momentum into the third period off Combs' goal, the Sharks looked to tie the game, and headed to their sixth power play opportunity when Monarchs defenseman Jake Muzzin was called high-sticking at 6:49. However, Legein pounced on a loose puck, skated in all alone on Sateri and beat Sateri top shelf for the short-handed goal at 7:07 to seal the 3-1 Monarchs win.

For the game, the Sharks were outshot 28-18, were 1-for-6 with the man advantage and 6-for-7 on the penalty kill... Cam MacIntyre returned to the Sharks lineup after missing 22 games due to injury... Ben Guite {inj}, Tony Lucia {inj}, Frazer McLaren {inj}, Brian O'Hanley {scr} and Chad Costello {scr} did not dress for the Sharks... On Feb. 7, goalie Antero Niittymaki was assigned to the Syracuse Crunch while Murray was reassigned to Worcester from San Jose... Murray's jersey number in Worcester is 44... With the three fights, the Sharks now have 79 through 45 games, the most in the AHL.

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Photo courtesy of www.sharksahl.com

On Saturday night {Feb. 11}, the Sharks traveled to the Giant Center in Hershey, PA, to play the hosting Hershey Bears in their first meeting of the season, and skated away with a 3-2 shootout win, the 500th AHL win for head coach Roy Sommer.

Combs and Tim Kennedy scored in regulation for the Sharks while Brodie Reid scored the winning goal in round seven of the shootout. Tyson Sexsmith {10-8-2-5, 2.14 goals against average, .924 save percentage} stopped 22-of-24 shots and stopped all seven shots he faced in the shootout.

As soon as the puck dropped for the opening face-off, the nastiness began. Just in the first period, the teams combined for 43 penalty minutes and saw the ejection of Bears captain Boyd Kane.

A line brawl nearly erupted at 9:12 when Bears forward, and AHL penalty minutes leader, Joel Rechlicz skated in from 20 feet away and cross-checked Pelech in the face after Pelech put a solid check on Bears forward Garrett Mitchell. Under AHL rules, Rechlicz should've received a match penalty and game misconduct for his actions. However, referee Chris Brown only assessed Rechlicz a five minute major for fighting, along with Pelech, and an extra two minutes for high-sticking.

Sharks fans held their breath three minutes later when Kane skated in full charge from 10 feet away and ran Gogol from behind in the right corner of the of the Sharks zone. As soon as Kane boarded Gogol, Bonneau left a vapor trail on the ice as he raced right over to Kane and POUNDED him into the ice with repeated right hands. Bonneau received a five minute major for fighting as well as an extra two for roughing while Kane received five for fighting, a five minute major for boarding and a game misconduct. Gogol didn't return to the game.

With a three minute power play advantage, Combs made the Bears pay by scoring his 10th goal of the season at 17:09 to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead. With the puck inside the Bears zone, Costello fired a shot on net from on top of the right face-off circle that Bears goalie Dany Sabourin stopped after Moon, who was positioned right in front, deflected the puck. With Sabourin on his back, Combs, who was positioned on the right side behind the goal line, corralled the loose puck and stuffed the puck into the net for the goal.

Bears forward Chris Bourque tied the game with a power play goal, his 23rd goal of the season, at 18:52. With Sharks defenseman Taylor Doherty in the penalty box for delay of game, Bourque fired a laser of a shot from on top of the right face-off circle that got through traffic and beat Sexsmith on the blocker side for the goal.

At 2:52 of the second period, Bonneau dropped the gloves with Rechlicz in a heavyweight battle at center ice in what could be a fight of the year candidate. After the fight was over, Rechlicz got up and threw his elbow pad onto the Sharks bench. The fight was the Sharks' 82nd of the season, which set a new franchise record. The previous record of 81 was set last season {2010-11}. Rechlicz wasn't assessed any further penalties for throwing his equipment onto the Sharks bench.

After a scoreless second period, Bears forward Cody Eakin scored his 10th goal of the season at 17:59 of the third period to give the Bears a 2-1 lead. Off a turnover inside the Sharks zone, Eakin centered the puck in front to linemate Kyle Greentree, who fired a quick shot on net from in the slot. Sexsmith made the save but Eakin skated through the crease and poked the puck into the net for the go ahead goal.

However, Kennedy answered back for the Sharks with a power play goal, his fourth goal of the season and first as a Shark, at 18:44, just seven seconds after Bears forward Mike Carman was called for tripping. With Sexsmith pulled for an extra skater, and the face-off in the left face-off circle of the Bears zone, Kennedy won the draw and got the puck back to captain Mike Moore. Moore sent a pass up to the center point to defensive partner Matt Irwin, who fired a one timer on net that just missed. Combs corralled the puck at the right side of the goal crease, and sent a pass through the crease to Kennedy, who shot the puck into an open net from deep inside the left face-off circle for the tying goal.

After a scoreless overtime session, the teams headed to the shootout where the Sharks elected to go first and Costello was stopped by Sabourin; Borque was stopped by Sexsmith; Brandon Mashinter fired the puck wide on the blocker side; Jacob MicFlikier never got the shot off; Kennedy was stopped by Sabourin; Eakin lost the puck after faking a slap shot; Combs was stopped on the backhand by Sabourin; Ryan Potulny lost the puck; Irwin missed the net going top shelf blocker side; Greentree was stopped by Sexsmith; Connolly crashed into Sabourin before getting the shot off; Mitchell ran out of room and was stopped by Sexsmith; Reid scored on the glove side of Sabourin; Patrick McNeill was stopped by Sexsmith to give the Sharks the win and coach Sommer his 500th career AHL win.

For the game, the Sharks outshot the Bears 32-24, were 2-for-6 with the man advantage and 5-for-6 on the penalty kill... Guite {inj}, Lucia {inj}, McLaren {inj}, MacIntyre {inj}, O'Hanley {scr} did not dress for the Sharks.

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"Pink in the Rink" courtesy of Jim Collins of www.telegram.com

On Sunday afternoon {Feb. 12} the Sharks hosted the visiting Portland Pirates in their sixth meeting of the season and skated away with a 5-2 victory on "Pink in the Rink" day. Combs, Kennedy, Mashinter, Ryan Del Monte and Murray scored for the Sharks while Sateri stopped 32-of-34 shots. In addition, Combs {1-1-2}, Kennedy {1-2-3}, Connolly {0-2-2}, Del Monte {1-1-2} and James Livingston {0-2-2} all had multi-point games for the Sharks.

Combs gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead with a power play goal, his 11th goal of the season, at 6:29 of the first period. With Pirates defenseman Tyler Eckford in the penalty box for roughing, the Sharks won the ensuing face-off inside the Pirates, and from behind the net of Pirates goalie Justin Pogge, Combs sent a pass out to the right corner to Kennedy. With the puck on his stick, Kennedy curled to his right, and sent the puck back to Combs, who swung a shot on net from behind the goal line on the right side that went off a skate and into the net for the goal. Connolly was credited with the secondary assist.

Patrick O'Sullivan tied the game at 1-1 with his eighth goal of the season at 7:29 of the second period. Stealing the puck from Irwin on the left side of the Sharks zone, O'Sullivan skated in on Sateri untouched and stuffed the puck inside the post on the blocker side for the goal.

Kennedy regained the Sharks lead with a power play goal, his fifth goal of the season, at 11:18 after Moon drew a tripping penalty on Eckford at 10:46. Corralling a backhanded pass near the right corner of the Pirates zone, Kennedy skated to the right face-off circle untouched and snapped a wrist shot on net that beat Pogge over the shoulder on the blocker side for the goal. Irwin and Connolly were credited with the assists.

Mashinter extended the Sharks lead to 3-1 with his ninth goal of the season at 16:15. Rushing into the Pirates zone 3-on-3, Livingston sent a cross zone pass from the right point to Mashinter, who snapped a rocket of a shot on net from inside the left face-off circle that beat Pogge top shelf. Del Monte was credited with the secondary assist, and after allowing three goals on just 13 shots, Pogge was pulled for back-up goaltender Marc Cheverie.

Del Monte made it 4-1 with his fifth goal of the season at 19:16. With the puck along the left side of the Pirates zone, Livingston sent a pass to Del Monte, who fired a quick shot on net from inside the left face-off circle. Cheverie made the save but the rebound went right back to Del Monte, who had followed his shot, and with the puck on his stick, Del Monte shot the puck into the open net for the goal. Pelech was credited with the secondary assist.

Pirates forward Brock Trotter cut the Sharks lead to 4-2 with his 14th goal of the season at 5:16 of the third period off a nice 2-on-1 feed from linemate Marc-Antoine Pouliot.

Despite out-shooting the Sharks 15-7 in the third period, Trotter's goal was the only score for the Pirates as Sateri remained solid in net. Murray added an empty net goal for the Sharks at 19:20 to seal the game for the Sharks. Kennedy and Combs were credited with the assists.

For the game, the Sharks were outshot 34-22, were 2-for-3 with the man advantage and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill... Livingston extended his point streak to four games {2-3-5}... Guite {inj}, Lucia {inj}, McLaren {inj}, Sena Acolatse {inj} and Costello {scr} did not dress for the Sharks... Combs now has a three game goal streak and 23 points {11-12-23} in 24 games with the Sharks since being called up from the ECHL... The Sharks are 12th in the AHL on the power play at 18.3%, sixth on the penalty kill at 84.2% and second in penalty minutes at 21.5 per game.

ALEX STALOCK RETURNS TO WORCESTER

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Photo courtesy of www.northlandsnewscenter.com

On Feb. 13, it was announced that the Worcester Sharks recalled goaltender Alex Stalock from the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL. In his six games with the Thunder, Stalock posted a 5-1-0 record with a 2.83 goals against average and .914 save percentage.

The Worcester Sharks 2009-10 team MVP, Stalock is 58-36-6 all-time with Worcester and 1-0 with San Jose.

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