Just 24-hours after an embarrassing 7-1 home loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Worcester Sharks responded by defeating their Atlantic Division rival the St. John's IceCaps (AHL affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets) 3-0 Saturday night at the DCU Center behind a 27 save shutout performance from rookie goaltender Troy Grosenick, who made his second professional start.
"It just happens," said Grosenick of the shutout in a post game interview with Bill Ballou of Telegram.com. "You go into every game trying to stop every shot, but you need help from your teammates, so a shutout is really a team thing. The guys didn't give them a lot of chances, they sacrificed their bodies and blocked a lot of shots, and I saw everything. The shutout's just the icing on the cake."
The Sharks took a 1-0 lead at 19:54 of the first period when second year forward Daniil Tarasov got positioning in front of IceCaps goaltender Eddie Pasquale and redirected defenseman Matt Tennyson's slap shot from the top of the center point for a power play goal, Tarasov's sixth goal of the season. Sharks alternate captain Bracken Kearns was credited with the secondary assist.
After a scoreless second period that saw the Sharks out-shoot the IceCaps 11-4, the Sharks extended their lead to 2-0 at 7:37 of the third period when defenseman Sena Acolatse blasted a one-timer from the left point past Pasquale for his first goal of the season and the first goal of the season for the Sharks defense. Sharks forwards Brodie Reid and Tarasov were credited with the assists.
26-seconds after Acolatse's goal, Sharks defenseman Taylor Doherty was assessed a minor penalty for closing his hand over the puck. On the ensuing IceCaps power play, Sharks penalty killers Kearns and Freddie Hamilton broke their hockey sticks but managed to keep the IceCaps from scoring and eventually cleared the zone. Even though the IceCaps didn't score on the power play, they continued to pressure Grosenick as they fired 13 shots on goal for the period after having only 14 shots on goal through two periods.
With a power play late in the period, the IceCaps pulled Pasquale for the extra attacker but third year Sharks forward Curt Gogol poked the puck away from the IceCaps at the Sharks blue line, skated after the puck and fired a backhanded shot into the empty net at 18:01 for his first goal of the season.
"Like night and day," said Sharks head coach Roy Sommer of the Sharks' two weekend games in a post game interview with Ballou. "We played a hell of a game. This was a really good team we played (Saturday) night, maybe the best team we've played this year. Sometimes, it might be better losing the way we did than losing, like, 3-2 in a game where your goalie keeps you in it. You realize how much better you have to be."
NOTES... Final shots were 32-27 in favor of the Sharks... The Sharks went 1-for-3 on the power play and 5-for-5 on the penalty kill... Grosenick is now 2-0-0 with a 1.33 goals-against-average and .955 save percentage... Acolatse had a game high five shots on goal... Kearns had a game high seven penalty minutes... Tarasov had a two point game (1-1-2)... This was the first time the Sharks have beaten the IceCaps at the DCU Center... Riley Brace (scr), Nick Petrecki (scr), Jimmy Bonneau (inj), Collin Bowman (inj), Matt Pelech (inj) and Lane Scheidl (inj) did not dress for the Sharks... This was the first of 10 meetings between the teams this season... The Sharks are 1-0-0-0 against the IceCaps, 2-3-0-0 at the DCU Center, 2-1-0-0 against the Atlantic Division and 3-4-0-0 with six points overall... The Sharks are back in action November 8 as they travel to play the Portland Pirates at 7pm/et.
1. Troy Grosenick - Sharks (27 saves, Shutout Win)
2. Sena Acolatse - Sharks (1-0-1)
3. Matt Tennyson - Sharks (0-1-1)
Tarasov / Kearns / Reid
Schwartz / Hamilton / Hayes
Gogol / Viedensky / Livingston
Stalberg / Oleksuk / Comrie
Acolatse / Tennyson
Doherty / Abeltshauser
Davison / DeMelo