Less than 24 hours after an embarrassing 7-1 home loss to the Springfield Falcons, Worcester Sharks head coach Roy Sommer dressed 11 rookies for Sunday afternoon's game at the DCU Center against the Manchester Monarchs. Even though the Sharks lost 4-3 in overtime, the young Sharks showed resiliency and mental toughness in rallying from a 3-1 deficit in the third period to force overtime.
Rookies Riley Brace and Freddie Hamilton each had a goal and an assist, and goaltender Harri Sateri made 19 saves for the Sharks, who have now lost eight games in a row and trial the Hershey Bears by eight points for the final playoff spot in the AHL Eastern Conference with seven games remaining.
The Monarchs took a 1-0 lead at 12:12 of the first period when defenseman Andrew Campbell beat Sateri with a blast from the left point for his second goal of the season. At 18:54, Sharks rookie left winger Yanni Gourde pounced on Monarchs left winger Hunter Bishop after Bishop sent Sharks defenseman Derek Joslin flying into the right corner wall with a heavy check. Gourde did not return to the game as he appeared to have injured his ankle when Bishop fell on top of him at the end of their fight.
In the second period, Brace, who was making his professional debut, tied the game at 5:36 with his first professional goal off a quick snap shot from on top of the face-off circles that beat Monarchs goaltender Martin Jones glove side. Hamilton and Sharks rookie defenseman Dylan DeMelo were credited with the assists.
The Monarchs regained the lead at 9:31 when center Jordan Weal beat Sateri with a snap shot from near the right face-off circle dot for a power play goal, his 14th goal of the season. Right winger Brian O'Neill extended the lead to 3-1 at 17:39 when got on top of the crease and tipped in defenseman Nick Deslauriers' centering feed from the left wall for his third goal of the season.
Just 17-seconds into the third period, Sharks rookie right winger Daniil Tarasov pounced on a loose puck in the left face-off circle and beat Jones blocker side for a power play goal, his 12th goal of the season, to pull the Sharks to within a goal.
With Sateri pulled for an extra attacker and under 10-seconds remaining in the period, Brace entered the Monarchs zone on the left side after corralling an up ice pass from Joslin and got the puck over the Hamilton, who fired a quick shot on net from deep inside the left face-off circle that beat Jones low on the glove side for the game-tying-goal with 1.7 seconds remaining. The goal was Hamilton's 11th of the season.
At 1:50 of overtime, Monarchs defenseman David Kolomatis scored the game-winning-goal, his sixth goal of the season, off a wicked wrist shot from the top of the right slot that beat Sateri high.
NOTES... Shots were 29-23 in favor of the Sharks... The Sharks went 1-for-4 on the power play and 7-for-8 on the penalty kill... Sateri made 19 saves and is now 14-19-3 with a 2.83 goals-against-average and .904 save percentage... Prior to the start of the game, the Sharks signed forward Eriah Hayes (Minnesota State - Mankato) and center Rylan Schwartz (Colorado College) to ATO's and reassigned left winger Peter Sivak to the San Francisco Bulls of the ECHL... With the one fight, the Sharks now have 77 through 69 games... Adam Comrie (inj), Curt Gogol (inj), Brodie Reid (inj), Marek Viedensky (inj), Jimmy Bonneau (scr), Hayes (scr), James Livingston (scr), Jon Matsumoto (scr) and Schwartz (scr) did not dress for the Sharks... Chris Crane made his professional debut with the Sharks and wore no. 45... This was the 11th of 12 meetings between the teams this season... The Sharks are 5-5-1-0 against the Monarchs this season, 13-15-3-4 at the DCU Center and 29-31-3-6 with 67 points overall.
1. David Kolomatis - Monarchs (1-2-3)
2. Freddie Hamilton - Sharks (1-1-2)
3. Riley Brace - Sharks (1-1-2)