Woo Rewind - Sharks playoff hopes on life support as losing streak reaches six games

Worcester Sharks goalie Tyson Sexsmith suffered a broken finger on his catching hand in the pregame warmups of the Sound Tigers game on March 27 and is out indefinitely. Photo courtesy of John Ferrarone of www.telegram.com

As the result of a disappointing week that saw the Worcester Sharks lose all four of their games and extend their losing streak to six games, the Sharks dropped to 14th place in the AHL Eastern Conference and are nine points behind the Manchester Monarchs for the eighth and final playoff spot. Overall, the Sharks dropped to 28-30-4-7 with 67 points and have only seven games remaining.

The Sharks' week started Tuesday night {March 27} as the team traveled to the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, CT, to play the hosting Bridgeport Sound Tigers in their final meeting of the season and were defeated 5-4 despite leading 4-1 early in the second period.

Sena Acolatse, Tim Kennedy and John McCarthy scored for the Sharks while Tyson Sexsmith {13-12-2-7, 2.33 goals against average, .916 save percentage} stopped 15-of-19 shots in 40 minutes of play before being pulled for Harri Sateri {12-18-0, 3.05 goals against average, .901 save percentage} at the start of the third period due to injury. Sateri stopped 13-of-14 shots in his 20 minutes of play. In addition, Kennedy {1-1-2}, McCarthy {1-1-2} and Acolatse {2-0-2} all had multi-point games for the Sharks.

Acolatse gave the Sharks an early 1-0 lead with his third goal of the season at 2:40 of the first period. With the puck inside the Sound Tigers zone, Sharks forward Tony Lucia tried to carry the puck behind the net of Sound Tigers goalie Kevin Poulin but the puck squirted loose at the left side of the goalie crease. Acolatse corralled the loose puck, deked out both Sound Tigers defenseman Aaron Ness and Poulin and slid the puck into the open net for the goal. It was the first time in the Sharks' last eight games that they scored the first goal of the game.

Kennedy extended the lead to 2-0 with a power play goal, his 12th goal of the season at 10:42. With Sound Tigers defenseman Matt Donovan serving a double minor for high-sticking and the puck on the left half wall of the Sound Tigers zone, McCarthy chipped the puck ahead for Kennedy, who corralled the puck inside the left face-off circle and fired a quick shot on net that Poulin stopped. Kennedy followed his shot and fired a backhanded shot into the open net from in the slot for the goal.

McCarthy pushed the lead to 3-0 with his team leading 19th goal of the season just 42 seconds into the second period. Entering the Sound Tigers zone through the middle, McCarthy fired a shot on net from the center point that Poulin stop. Sharks forward Brandon Mashinter fired a quick backhander on the rebound the Poulin stopped as well. Mashinter stayed with the puck and centered the puck in front for Kennedy but the puck jumped over Kennedy's stick. McCarthy jumped on the loose puck deep in the slot and fired a backhanded shot into the open net for the goal.

Sound Tigers forward Blair Riley cut the Sharks lead to 3-1 with his fifth goal of the season at 2:38 off a quick shot from on top of the right face-off circle along the wall that beat Sexsmith through the pads.

Acolatse regained the Sharks' three goal lead with his second goal of the game at 4:18. Rushing into the Sound Tigers zone down the right side, Acolatse faked the shot not once, not twice but three times on his forehand in the right face-off circle, cut in front and flipped the puck into the net with a backhanded shot for the goal. Sharks defenseman Matt Irwin was credited with the only assist on the goal.

With his team down 4-1, Sound Tigers head coach Brent Thompson called a timeout following Acolatse's goal. The timeout proved to be a good move as Sound Tigers forward Scott Howes scored his 11th goal of the season at 5:39 to cut the Sharks lead to 4-2. On a delayed penalty call to the Sharks, Sound Tigers defenseman Steve Oleksy chipped the puck in front from inside the right face-off circle of the Sharks zone to Howes, who was all alone deep in the slot. With the puck on his stick, Howes went forehand-to-backhand on Sexsmith and slid the puck into the open net for the goal.

Sound Tigers forward Justin DiBenedetto cut the Sharks lead to 4-3 with a power play goal, his 19th goal of the season, at 10:05. With McCarthy and Sharks defenseman Taylor Doherty in the penalty box for interference and tripping respectively, the Sound Tigers went to work on their 5-on-3 power play advantage. Kennedy tried to clear the zone with a diving attempt at the left point but the puck was held in by Sound Tigers defenseman Calvin de Haan, who skated towards the top of the slot and passed the puck over to DiBenedetto, who fired a one-timer on net from deep inside the right face-off circle that beat Sexsmith for the goal.

With eight seconds remaining in the second period, Sound Tigers forward Kael Mouillierat tied the game at 4-4 with his eighth goal of the season. Rushing into the Sharks zone on the right side, Sound Tigers forward Tony Romano left the puck in the right face-off circle for Mouillierat, who fired a backhanded shot on net from deep inside the circle that Sexsmith stopped. However, Sexsmith left a rebound that Mouillierat was able fire past Sexsmith for the tying goal.

DiBenedetto gave the Sound Tigers the lead with his second power play goal of the game at 11:05 of the third period. With Irwin in the penalty box for delay of game, the Sound Tigers won the ensuing face-off to maintain puck possession inside the Sharks zone. Holding the puck near the left corner, Sound Tigers defenseman Jon Landry sent a cross zone pass through the crease to DiBenedetto, who had his centering pass from deep inside the right face-off circle blocked by Doherty. However, the puck came right back to DiBenedetto, who quickly fired the puck into the open net for the goal.

The Sharks pulled Sateri for the extra attacker with 44 seconds remaining but were unable to generate a shot on goal despite having a face-off in the Sound Tigers zone with 18 seconds remaining.

For the game, the Sharks outshot the Sound Tigers 39-33, were 1-for-5 with the man advantage and 5-for-7 on the penalty kill... Mike Moore {susp}, Frazer McLaren {inj}, Cam MacIntyre {inj}, Ryan Del Monte {inj}, Marek Viedensky {inj} and Nick Petrecki {inj} did not dress for the Sharks... Due to Moore's suspension and Petrecki's injury, the Sharks only dressed five defensemen... goaltender Thomas Heemskerk was assigned to the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL prior to the start of the game... McCarthy extended his point streak to six games {4-4-8}... The Sharks finished 3-3-0-0 against the Sound Tigers this season.

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Photo courtesy of www.sharksahl.com

On Friday night {March 29}, the Sharks kicked off a four game home stand at the DCU Center by hosting the Portland Pirates in their 11th meeting of the season and were defeated 5-3.

Brodie Reid, Irwin and Acolatse scored for the Sharks while Sateri stopped 32-of-36 shots. In addition, Reid {1-1-2} and Lucia {0-2-2} had multi-point games for the Sharks.

At 5:33 of the first period, McLaren dropped the gloves with Pirates defenseman Mark Louis in a spirited back-and-forth battle. The fight was McLaren's sixth of the season and gave the Sharks an AHL leading 113 fighting majors.

Reid gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead with his ninth goal of the season at 8:33. With the puck behind the net on the left side of Pirates goaltender Peter Mannino, Lucia tried to pass the puck over to Reid but the play was broken up by a Pirates defender. With the puck sitting loose behind the net on the right side, Reid corralled the puck and banked it off the back of Mannino's left leg for the goal. Lucia and Sharks defenseman Brian O'Hanley were credited with the assists.

Irwin extended the Sharks lead to 2-0 with a power play goal, his 10th goal of the season, at 1:02 of the second period. With Louis in the penalty box for hooking, Irwin ripped a one-timer blast from the right point that beat a screened Mannino on the glove side. Kennedy and Reid were credited with the assists.

Just nine seconds later, Pirates forward Brett MacLean cut the Sharks lead in half with his 22nd goal of the season on a turnaround slap shot from the top of the left slot after the Sharks turned the puck over in their own zone.

Pirates defenseman Tyler Eckford tied the game at 2-2 with a power play goal, his ninth goal of the season, at 15:51. Displaying great puck movement inside the Sharks zone on the tail end of the boarding penalty to Sharks defenseman Matt Pelech, Pirates forward Ryan Duncan fired a shot from deep inside the right face-off circle that Sateri stopped with the pad. However, Sateri kicked the rebound out to the left slot where Eckford, who slid a backhander past a lunging Sateri for the goal.

Just 10 seconds later, Pirates forward Kenndal McArdle gave the Pirates a 3-2 lead with his ninth goal of the season. Off the the ensuing face-off, Pirates forward Ashton Rome rushed into the Sharks zone along the right side and fired a shot on net from on top of the right face-off circle that Sateri stopped. McArdle corralled the rebound inside the left face-off circle and fired a quick shot on net from a tough angle that beat a sprawled out Sateri up high for the goal.

Acolatse tied the game at 3-3 with a power play goal, his fifth goal of the season {and third goal in last two games} at 18:47. With MacLean in the penalty box for kneeing, Acolatse ripped a shot on net from the right point that beat Mannino, who was being screened in front by Sharks forward Jack Combs, top shelf on the blocker side for the goal. Moore and Lucia were credited with the assists.

At 14:47 of the third period, Pirates forward Andy Miele gave the Pirates a 4-3 lead with his 14th goal of the season. Holding the puck at the top of the center point of Sharks zone, Duncan floated a backhanded shot on net that got through the five Sharks skaters and was deflected in front by Miele for the goal.

With Sateri pulled for an extra attacker, McCarthy had his shot from in the slot blocked and Pirates forward Brett Sterling sealed a Pirates win with an empty net goal, his 27th goal of the season, at 19:45.

For the game, the Sharks were outshot 37-27, were 2-for-3 with the man advantage and 3-for-4 on the penalty kill... Jimmy Bonneau {scr}, Andrew Murray {inj}, Sexsmith {inj}, MacIntyre {inj}, Del Monte {inj}, Viedensky {inj} and Petrecki {inj} did not dress for the Sharks... Heemskerk was recalled from the Stockton Thunder... McCarthy had his six game point streak snapped {4-4-8}... Irwin joined Derek Joslin as the only Sharks defenseman in franchise history to score 10 goals in two seasons.

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Photo courtesy of John Ferrarone of www.telegram.com

On Saturday night {March 31}, the Sharks hosted the Monarchs in their 11th meeting of the season and were shutout 4-0. Sateri stopped 18-of-22 shots in 36:52 of playing time before being pulled for Heemskerk, who stopped all 13 shots he faced in 23:08 of relief playing time.

Just 1:50 into the game, Sharks forward Curt Gogol dropped the gloves with Monarchs forward Richard Clune in a 10 second scrap at center ice that saw Clune knock Gogol down with repeated right hands. The fight was Gogol's 18th of the season.

Monarchs forward Justin Azevedo gave the Monarchs a 1-0 lead with a shorthanded goal, his 25th goal of the season, at 6:26. Skating out towards center ice, Kennedy had his drop pass intercepted by Azevedo, who broke in all alone on Sateri. Azevedo deked, went backhand-to-forehand and swept the puck past Sateri on the left side for the goal. It was the eighth shorthanded goal surrendered by the Sharks this season, six of which have come against the Monarchs.

Monarchs defenseman David Kolomatis extended the Monarchs lead to 2-0 with his fifth goal of the season at 2:55 of the second period. With a face-off in the right face-off circle of the Sharks zone, Monarchs forward Ray Kaunisto won the draw and got the puck back to Kolomatis, who fired a slap shot on net from the center point that beat Sateri through the pads for the goal.

As the Monarchs were celebrating their goal, a huge scrum up ensued which resulted in Sharks forward Nathan Moon dropping the gloves with Monarchs defenseman Nick Deslauriers. As Moon was engaged with Deslauriers, McLaren dropped the gloves with Monarchs enforcer Justin Johnson in a battle that was reminiscent of the Don Frye vs. Yoshihiro Takayama fight at Pride FC 21. The fights were Moon's and McLaren's 11th and seventh of the season respectively, and both McLaren and Johnson were given game misconducts for being the secondary altercation.

Monarchs defenseman Patrick Mullen extended the Monarchs lead to 3-0 with a power play goal, his 10th goal of the season, at 13:19. With Mashinter in the penalty box for an undisciplined roughing penalty and the puck inside the Sharks zone, Azevedo sent the puck down to linemate Trent Hunter in the left corner. Hunter passed the puck back to a cutting Azevedo, who fired a shot on net from deep inside the left face-off circle that Sateri stopped but Mullen was there on the doorstep to slide the puck into the open net on the right side for the goal.

Mullen scored his second goal of the game at 16:52 to extend the Monarchs lead to 4-0. With a face-off in the right face-off circle of the Sharks zone, Cliche won the draw and got the puck back to Mullen, who stepped into a slap shot from the right point that beat Sateri on the blocker side for the goal. Sharks head coach Roy Sommer had seen enough and pulled Sateri for Heemskerk.

For the game... The Sharks were outshot 35-28, were 0-for-5 with the man advantage and 4-for-5 on the penalty kill... Bonneau {scr}, Sexsmith {inj}, MacIntyre {inj}, Del Monte {inj}, Viedensky {inj} and O'Hanley {scr} did not dress for the Sharks... With the three fights, the Sharks now have an AHL leading 116 fighting majors, 25 of which have come against the Monarchs... Sateri is now 1-9-0 in his last 11 appearances... The Sharks finished the month of March 4-8-1.

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Photo courtesy of Steve Lanava of www.telegram.com

On Sunday afternoon {April 1}, the Sharks hosted the Springfield Falcons in their final meeting of the season and were defeated 3-2. Reid and Sebastian Stalberg scored for the Sharks, who failed to protect a lead for the third time in their last four games, while Sateri stopped 34-of-37 shots.

Reid gave the Sharks an early 1-0 lead with a power play goal, his 10th goal of the season, at 4:09 of the first period. After Falcons goalie Manny Legace was called for delay of game, the Sharks won the ensuing face-off inside the Falcons zone and Reid fired a wicked slap shot from the left point that beat Legace clean for the goal. Irwin and McCarthy were credited with the assists.

A line brawl nearly broke out at 15:42 when Falcons forward Aaron Bogosian jumped Gogol at center ice. Acolatse would have none of Bogosian's antics and immediately jumped on top of Bogosian. The officials quickly separated the three before things could escalate more and assessed both Bogosian and Acolatse game misconducts {Acolatse for third man in, Bogosian for being the aggressor}. In addition, Gogol got two minutes for roughing while Bogosian got two for instigating and an additional five for fighting.

Stalberg extended the Sharks lead to 2-0 with his second goal of the season at 3:15 of the second period. Entering the Falcons zone on the left side, Stalberg fired a wicked snap shot from on top of the left face-off circle that beat Legace through the pads for the goal. Doherty was credited the lone assist.

Falcons alternate captain Andrew Joudrey cut the Sharks lead in half with his 10th goal of the season at 6:33. Rushing into the Sharks zone 3-on-2, Falcons forward Sean Collins fired a shot on net from the top of the center point that Sateri stopped. However, no one on the Sharks put a body on Joudrey, who was all alone on top of the crease, and Joudrey slid the puck past Sateri on the left side of the net for the goal.

A line brawl nearly broke at the end of the second period as all ten skaters came together. Gogol dropped the gloves and pulled unwilling Falcons forward Wade MacLeod out of the scrum. Gogol landed several shots before being separated by the linesmen and was assessed a game misconduct for being the aggressor.

Falcons forward Alexandre Giroux tied the game at 2-2 with a power play goal, his 25th goal of the season {365th of his AHL career}, at 11:54 of the third period. With Mashinter in the penalty box for slashing, the Falcons won the ensuing face-off inside the Sharks zone and Giroux ripped a one-timer on net from the right point that beat Sateri high.

Joudrey gave the Falcons a 3-2 lead with his second goal of the game at 15:10 on a wicked snap shot from inside the right face-off circle off a Sharks turnover.

The Sharks pulled Sateri for an extra attacker and had a 6-on-4 power play advantage for the final 85 seconds of the game. However, the Sharks didn't capitalize on the late power play opportunity as they failed to register a shot on goal due to being too passive with the puck.

For the game, the Sharks outshot the Falcons 34-32, were 1-for-5 with the man advantage and 4-for-5 on the penalty kill... Sexsmith {inj}, McLaren {inj}, Pelech {susp}, MacIntyre {inj}, Del Monte {inj} and Viedensky {inj} did not dress for the Sharks... With one official fight credited, the Sharks now have an AHL leading 117 fighting majors... Prior to the start of the game, Pelech was suspended by the AHL for two games for a boarding incident in the Pirates game on March 29... The Sharks finished 3-3-1-1 against the Falcons this season... Sateri is now 1-10-0 in his last 12 appearances... The teams combined for 80 penalty minutes on 21 infractions... The Sharks are 16th in the AHL on the power play at 17.2%, 17th in penalty killing at 82.0% and first in penalty minutes at 21.7 per game.

SHARKS SIGN MATT TENNYSON & TRAVIS OLEKSUK

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Photos courtesy of www.uscho.com and www.d.umn.edu

Last week, San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced that the organization had signed free agent defenseman Matt Tennyson {pictured left} of Western Michigan and free agent forward Travis Oleksuk {pictured right} of Minnesota-Duluth to entry-level contracts.

Tennyson, 21, just completed his junior season at Western Michigan where he finished as the fourth leading scorer on the Broncos {11-13-24}, which led all team defenseman. In addition, Tennyson led the Broncos in power play goals {8} and was the team leader in shots on goal {117}. As a result, Tennyson earned Second Team All-CCHA honors and was named as a finalist for CCHA Best Offensive Defenseman.

A native of Pleasanton, Calif., Tennyson is the first Jr. Shark to sign with San Jose.

"We are very excited to add a player of Matt's caliber to our organization," said Wilson in a press release on the San Jose website. "To have Matt become a Shark after playing for the Jr. Sharks program is very special to this organization and it speaks volumes for the work that Jon Gustafson and his staff do to make the Jr. Sharks an elite program."

For his collegiate career, Tennyson registered 49 points {20-29-49} and 92 penalty minutes in 112 games.

Oleksuk, 23, just completed his senior season at Minnesota-Duluth where he finished as the second leading scorer on the Bulldogs {21-32-53}. The fourth leading scorer in all Division 1 hockey, Oleksuk earned All-WCHA Third Team honors.

The 43rd all-time leading scorer in Bulldog history, Oleksuk registered 115 points {45-70-115} in 134 career games and tied a school record with 15 game-winning goals. In addition, Oleksuk played in 115 straight games to close out his career and assisted on Kyle Schmidt's game-winning goal in the 2011 championship game that won the Bulldogs their first National Championship.

"Travis has had an outstanding collegiate career, including a National Championship and we are excited to help him take that next step in his hockey development, " said Wilson. "Head Coach Scott Sandelin and his staff at Minnesota-Duluth have done a terrific job creating a winning environment at UMD and we think Travis will benefit greatly from that experience moving forward."

Oleksuk will report to Worcester in the fall as he will finish out the school year and graduate in May as he is majoring in management.

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