The Worcester Sharks are a really good hockey team of late. They had won four games in a row at home and are on a five game win streak coming into tonight’s game against the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins. They beat the Conference leading Manchester Monarchs twice this week, with a rematch tomorrow.
The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins got a cavalry back from Pittsburgh this week, were the rested team, but none of this mattered as Troy Grosenick and the Worcester Sharks defeat the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins by a score of 4-0.
Whatever it is that is ailing the Penguins, they will need to figure this out on the road, as six of the next seven are away from the friendly confines of the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
With five players re-assigned from Pittsburgh this week, the lineup looked drastically different. Here’s a look….
Tom Kostopoulos – Conor Sheary – Jayson Megna
Scott Wilson – Nick Drazenovic – Bryan Rust
Tom Kuhnhackl – Carter Rowney – Josh Archibald
Dominik Uher – J-S Dea – Bobby Farnham
Taylor Chorney – Brian Dumoulin
Reid McNeill – Derrick Pouliot
Nick D’Agostino – Barry Goers
Jeff Zatkoff – Matt Murray
Derrick Pouliot’s first action since December 19. Bryan Rust’s first since December 12 and Scott Wilson’s first Wilkes-Barre game since November 29.
Matia Marcantuoni was a scratch but participated in warmups. Alex Boak and Pierre Leblond were the other scratched. Anton Zlobin and Adam Payerl are still injured.
First Period: Period started out fine for the Penguins, who controlled the puck and the possession for the first ten minutes. After the midway part of the period, Worcester started to chip away…
— A J-S Dea turnover to Daniil Tarasov, who marched down the slot, made a bunch of moves and deked Zatkoff for a 1-0 Sharks lead at 12:11.
— Freddie Hamilton fires a puck at Zatkoff using D’Agostino as a pick to make it 2-0 at 15:05. A really nice shot by Hamilton that handcuffed Zatkoff.
— Ex-Penguin Bryan Lerg cleans up a rebound of a Jeremy Langlois shot from the blue line while the Sharks were on the only power play of the period that made it 3-0 at 19:31.
Three goals in a span of 7:20 in the final eight minutes of the period.
Second Period: Penguins would make a change in goal as Matt Murray would come in to relieve Jeff Zatkoff in goal. You really could not fault Zatkoff on any of the three goals he gave up in the first period, but the Penguins to this point were on a four game slide so Head Coach John Hynes decided to make the change in goal.
Wilkes-Barre would outshoot Worcester 12-4 in this period. Many of the shots from the Penguins would come on a power play where Grosenick was outstanding. Later, Taylor Fedun would finish off a tic tac toe pass as a Sharks power play had just expired to extend the lead to 4-0 for the Sharks.
Third Period: Nothing by the Penguins resembled any kind of comeback, and nothing by the Sharks resembled anything that looked like they wanted to pile on. What Grosenick saw, he stopped. John Hynes mixed up the lines that I listed earlier.
Three Stars: 3) Matt Taormina (two assists, +1) 2) Bryan Lerg (goal, +1) and 1) Troy Grosenick (25 save shutout)
Around the Division: Hershey takes over the East Division lead with a 5-4 overtime win against the Albany Devils. The Lehigh Valley Phantoms win at home in front of their largest crowd of the season with a 5-1 win over the Binghamton Senators. Hartford shutout Norfolk 3-0.
Standings: Hershey 45 — Penguins 44 — Lehigh Valley 43 — Binghamton 36 — Norfolk 34
Phantoms travel to Hershey tomorrow. It’s a Catch-22 for the Penguins. The Phantoms have three games in hand on the Penguins, so a win tomorrow by the Phantoms and Penguins would put the Penguins back over Bears by a point but the Phantoms would be in second place and trail the Pens by a point. A Bears win and a Penguins win would separate the Phantoms from the East lead but the Bears would still have a game in hand on the Penguins.
Bottom line, if the Penguins win tonight, none of tomorrow really matters. And the Penguins have lost five straight, so a guarantee that a win happens tomorrow in Providence is far from a guarantee.
Conference: 1) MCH (57) 2) SPR (56) 3) HER (45) 4) SYR (53) 5) HFD (49) 6) POR (47) 7) WBS (44) 8) WOR (43)
Pit of vipers from 7 on back. Expanding, Lehigh Valley is the 9 seed with 43 points, Albany is 10 with 43, Providence is 11 at 42. Bridgeport is 12 with 41. St. John’s is 13 at 40.
Wheeling Update: Nailers hang seven goals on the Brampton Beast tonight. The Beast are at the bottom of the Central Division in the ECHL and the Nailers were pummeled by call-ups to Wilkes-Barre, so the 7-2 win is welcome. Eric Hartzell stopped 22 of 24 to pick up the win.
SendToNews Highlights: Not up yet. Doubtful that I go back and make an edit here. If you’ve clicked through before, you know where to find them if you want to see them.
Penguins look to regroup tomorrow afternoon in Providence. Gametime is at 3 p.m. Gameday setup hist the blog Sunday at 11 a.m.
Let’s Go Pens!