Rookie goaltender Troy Grosenick made 30 saves in his first professional start, and forward Bracken Kearns scored two power play goals as the Worcester Sharks defeated their Atlantic Division rival the Portland Pirates (AHL affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes) 3-2 at the DCU Center Sunday evening for their first win of the season and first home win since March 23.
"It's always good to get the call," said Grosenick in a post game interview with Carl Setterlund of Telegram.com. "I didn't treat it different than any other game. Obviously, it's in the back of your mind, but you try your best to block it out. The guys did a great job in front of me, made my job easy and let me see all the pucks and I thought it was a great team win."
The Pirates took an early 1-0 lead at 4:25 of the first period when forward Andy Miele corralled a centering feed from linemate Chris Brown, who was behind the goal line on the right side, and stuffed the puck past Grosenick from point blank range for his second goal of the season.
Kearns tied the game two minutes later when he got positioning in front and redirected rookie forward Eriah Hayes' snap shot from the top of the right face-off circle past Pirates goaltender Mike Lee for a power play goal, Kearns' first goal of the season. Sharks forward Brodie Reid was credited with the secondary assist.
Kearns put the Sharks up 2-1 at 19:20 when he redirected forward Daniil Tarasov's one-timer blast from the right face-off dot past Lee for his second power play goal of the period. Reid was credited with the secondary assist. For the period, the Sharks out-shot the Pirates 16-13.
At 15:53 of the second period, Tarasov extended the Sharks lead to 3-1 when he split the Pirates defense to win the race to a loose puck in the Pirates zone and deked out Lee for his first goal of the season, which held up as the game-winning-goal. Sharks rookie forward Riley Brace and rookie defenseman Dylan DeMelo were credited with the assists.
Two minutes later, Miele displayed some fancy stick handling skills and cut the Sharks lead in half with his second goal of the game as he beat Grosenick top shelf with a backhanded shot from on top of the crease to cap off a 2-on-1 rush with linemate Jordan Szwarz.
In the third period, the Pirates out-shot the Sharks 11-6 but couldn't get the tying goal past Grosenick, who made a game changing save on a Pirates two-on-zero breakaway to preserve the Sharks' 3-2 lead.
"Good goaltenders usually find a way to win their first game in this league," said Sharks head coach Roy Sommer in a post game interview with Setterlund. "I thought he saw the puck pretty good and he was on top of things. We didn't give up a whole lot, but we gave up a 2-on-0 - I don't know where the (defense) or everyone were - but a 2-on-0 with their best line on the ice, and he stopped them and I said, 'It must be in the cards tonight.'"
NOTES... Final shots were 32-31 in favor of the Pirates... The Sharks went 2-for-7 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill... Grosenick is 1-0-0 with a 2.01 goals-against-average and .938 save percentage... Brace had a game high 12 penalty minutes... Sharks enforcer Jimmy Bonneau fought Pirates defenseman Mathieu Brodeur at 14:36 of the first period... Kearns (2-0-2), Reid (0-2-2) and Tarasov (1-1-2) had multi-point games for the Sharks... The teams combined for 58 penalty minutes... Sharks defenseman Adam Comrie skated as a forward... Nick Petrecki (scr), John McCarthy (scr), Freddie Hamilton (scr), Marek Viedensky (scr), Lane Scheidl (inj) and Collin Bowman (inj) did not dress for the Sharks... This was the first of 12 meetings between the teams this season... The Sharks are 1-0-0-0 against the Pirates this season, 1-1-0-0 at the DCU Center, 1-0-0-0 against the Atlantic Division and 1-2-0-0 overall with 2 points... The Sharks are back in action Wednesday (October 30) as they host their Atlantic Division rival the Manchester Monarchs at 7 pm/et.
1. Bracken Kearns - Sharks (2-0-2)
2. Andy Miele - Pirates (2-0-2)
3. Troy Grosenick - Sharks (30 saves, WIN)