With this season being the 20th playing season of the American Hockey league in Worcester it’s a great time to look back and assemble the all-time 20th anniversary team for Worcester. With 2014-15 likely the last the city will see of the AHL at the DCU Center it’s doubly important to remember the history the city has in that league.
Without further ado, the first line of Worcester’s all-time 20th anniversary AHL team
F: Eric Boguniecki
The only winner of the AHL’s Les Cunningham Award (league MVP) in Worcester’s hockey history Eric Boguniecki set the city single season records in points (84) and along with Justin Papineau set the single season goals record (38) during his 2001-02 award winning season. His 48 assists that same year is the IceCats single season record, and third on the all-time single season list. Of the top ten point scorers in Worcester’s AHL history Boguniecki played by far the fewest games. Boguniecki is a member of the Worcester Hockey Hall of Fame, inducted in 2012, and is currently an assistant coach for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
F: John McCarthy
The left winger on the Worcester Sharks famed “Crazed Rats” line, John McCarthy is at posting time the WorSharks franchise leader in goals and points and is closing in on the franchise assist mark held by Tom Cavanagh. Never a flashy player McCarthy is one of those guys that just gets the job done, no matter what the job is. Not only an offensive threat, McCarthy has always been one of the WorSharks best penalty killers. As an unrestricted free agent McCarthy left at the end of the 2013-14 season for the St Louis Blues organization, but he was reacquired mid-season in 2014-15 and his presence, both on the ice and in the record book, has been felt since.
F: Andrew Desjardins
If there is a single player that represents what Worcester hockey is supposed to be about, it’s Andrew Desjardins. An undrafted player Desjardins was a “warm body” at the Worcester Sharks training camp in 2008, literally at the camp so there would be enough players for a good sized scrimmage. He took what he saw as maybe his only chance to shine, and with the attitude that eventually got him to the NHL Desjardins outworked, outhit, outhustled, and flat out wanted it more than the next guy, and was signed to an AHL contract soon after. After a very brief ECHL stint Desjardins became an everyday player for the WorSharks, and when eventually teamed with his other “Crazed Rats” linemates he became one of the most feared players in the AHL. After being traded from San Jose midway through the 2014-15 season Desjardins now plays for the Chicago Blackhawks.
D: Terry Virtue
When it comes to Worcester hockey, it all starts with Terry Virtue. The city’s all-time leader in assists, points, games played, and penalty minutes Virtue is exactly what his nickname says: “Mr IceCats”. Virtue was never the best player on any of the Worcester teams he played on, but he was far and away the hardest worker. Virtue played 455 games in Worcester in two different stints with the IceCats, more than 150 more than the next most, and was a fan favorite in all of them. Virtue is a member of the Worcester Hockey Hall of Fame, being inducted in its inaugural class of 2011, and should have been the first to have his number retired in the city. It’s an honor that will undoubtedly be bestowed on him at some point in the hopefully not so distant future.
D: Danny Groulx
The 2009-10 Eddie Shore Award winner for the best defenseman in the AHL, Danny Groulx would occasionally make Worcester hockey fans cringe with his play in his own end, but his erratic style worked because once he got the puck away from you he was leading the charge back up ice. Worcester’s all-time season single season record holder for assists with 52, Groulx was the stereotypical puck moving defenseman that had an eye for finding the open man. Never known as a goal scorer in the pros in his award winning season Groulx lit the lamp 14 times, the only time in his pro career he hit double digits. After a failed second stint in Worcester during the 2012-13 season he was traded to the Chicago Wolves for Derek Joslin. He has played the last two seasons in Europe.
G: Dwayne Roloson
The goaltender that every Worcester goalie is compared to, Dwayne Roloson had a very good 2001-02 campaign where he set the current Worcester single season high in save percentage at .929, but it was in the Calder Cup playoffs where Roloson nearly single handedly carried Worcester into it’s first conference finals with an incredible .931 save percentage and 1.97 GAA that makes him the best. Were it not for a slow whistle in overtime in game seven against Providence in the divisional round finals that allowed play to continue and the puck to be accidentally kicked into the IceCats net by their own defense the entire path of Worcester hockey might have been changed. Roloson is currently the Anaheim Ducks goaltending consultant.