Today in Worcester hockey history: March 24


1996 at Hershey 4-3 win
The Worcester IceCats got goals from Sergei Kharin, Paul Broten, Chris Kenady, and Fred Knipscheer in a 4-3 win over Hershey. Terry Virtue (2), Craig Darby, Ken Sutton, Alex Vasilevskii, Jason Strudwick, and Knipscheer all added assists. Jamie McLennan earned the win making 41 saves.

1998 vs Saint John 2-2 tie
The Worcester IceCats and St. John Flames played for 65 minutes and that wasn’t enough to determine a winner as the clubs skated to a 2-2 tie. Travis Brigley for the Flames on he board with the only goal of the opening period at 12:37. Lubos Bartecko would tie the game at 2:22 of the middle stanza, with Stephane Roy and Nick Naumenko picking up the helpers. Michal Handzus gave Worcester the lead with a power play goal at 6:14, with Naumenko and Terry Hollinger picking up assists. Jeff Loder would score his only AHL goal at 13:07 of the third to tie the game for the Flames. Brent Johnson had 25 saves in earning the point for a tie.

2001 at Saint John 5-2 loss
(TICKER) Rico Fata had two goals and a pair of assists as the Saint John Flames defeated the Worcester IceCats, 5-2. Fata scored a shorthanded marker with 73 seconds remaining in the second period to give Saint John a 4-0 lead and added an empty-netter late in the contest. Rick Mrozik finished with a tally and an assist and Martin Brochu stopped 19 shots to pick up the win as the Flames improved to 10-4-1 in their last 15 home games. Mike Peluso scored both goals for Worcester, which has lost two of its last three road contests (1-2-0). Dwayne Roloson suffered the loss, allowing four goals on 32 shots to fall to 28-15-3.

2002 at Hartford 5-3 loss
(ICECATS) The Worcester IceCats lost 5-3 to the Wolf Pack Sunday afternoon in Hartford. AHL All-Star Justin Papineau recorded one goal and one assist, while Marc Brown pitched in with two helpers. Papineau’s tally was his League leading 36th of the season. Steve Halko and Darren Rumble had the other Worcester goals.

2007 vs Providence 3-1 win
(BRUINS) The Providence Bruins fell to the Worcester Sharks 3-1 Saturday evening at the DCU Center. The P-Bruins got their lone goal from Sean Bentivoglio. The Sharks took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. Josh Prudden wrapped the puck around the side of the net and in, sneaking it between the post and P-Bruins goaltender Hannu Toivonen’s skate. Garrett Stafford and Graham Mink had the assists. The Sharks extended their lead to 2-0 at the 6:54 mark of the second period. As the P-Bruins power play expired Lukas Kaspar headed out of the penalty box and took a pass from Craig Valette. Kaspar put the puck through Toivonen’s five hole and into the net. Thomas Greiss had the second assist. Providence cut the Sharks’ lead in half at the 18:15 mark on a controversial goal. Bentivoglio took a shot from the left face off circle and as Greiss was kicking his leg out to make the save he knocked the net off as the puck was going in. The referee initially waved the goal off, but after consulting with both linesmen reversed the call. Pascal Pelletier and Matt Lashoff recorded the assists as the P-Bruins went into the second intermission trailing the Sharks 2-1. In the third period, the Sharks picked up an insurance goal at the 16:16 mark. Grant Stevenson got around the P-Bruins defensemen and from the low slot sent the puck past Toivonen and into the P-Bruins net. Patrick Traverse and Valette had the assists as the Sharks held on for the 3-1 victory. Toivonen stopped 27 of 30 shots for the P-Bruins, while Greiss made 25 saves for the Sharks. Providence was 0 for 4 on the power play, while Worcester went 0 for 3 on the man-advantage.

2009 at Bridgeport 5-3 win
(WORSHARKS) The Sharks scored four first period goals and Thomas Greiss made 47 saves in net as Worcester defeated the Sound Tigers in Bridgeport 5-3 on Tuesday night to snap a three game slide and grab a share of the 4th and final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division with just nine games remaining. After scoring just one goal on 113 shots in three games last weekend, the Sharks needed little time to find the back of the net with frequency in the first period. The Sharks scored four goals in the opening 10:48 to take a 4-1 lead. P.J. Fenton scored twice while Steven Zalewski and Matt Fornataro also lit the lamp in the opening period. Worcester scored two power play goals and almost made it 5-1 as Derek Joslin was robbed by Sound Tigers’ netminder Nathan Lawson as the horn sounded. Lawson broke his stick over the crossbar to show his frustration to end the period. The Sound Tigers would pour it on early after changing goaltenders to start the 2nd period as Peter Mannino replaced Lawson aided by three consecutive power play chances but Thomas Greiss stood his ground in the Worcester net. The Sharks would extend their lead as Andrew Desjardins would deflect a Jason Demers wrist shot past Peter Mannino to give the Sharks a 5-1 lead at 15:53. Bridgeport would answer back converting a 2on1 as Sean Bentivogolio scored his 9th at 16:41. Shots were 28-23 after forty minutes in favor of Bridgeport. Thomas Greiss was spectacular in the third period making 21of22 stops in net to hold off a late Sound Tigers charge. Ben Walter would make it 5-3 at 15:38 for the only blemish of the third period for Greiss. The Sharks allowed 50 shots on goal, a season high, despite winning 5-3.

2013 vs Hershey 4-1 loss
(WORSHARKS) The Worcester Sharks (29-26-1-6, 65pts) fell to the 8th seeded Hershey Bears (31-25-1-6, 71pts) on Sunday afternoon in front of 4,917 fans at the DCU Center. Derek Joslin scored the only Sharks goal in the third period and Harri Sateri allowed four goals on 19 shots in the loss for Worcester. Hershey had four different goal scorers and got 32 saves from Dany Sabourin to lead the way and moved six points ahead of Worcester for the 8th and final playoff spot in the East. Jon Matsumoto thought he gave the Sharks an early 1-0 lead with a power play strike but was ruled no goal after video replay. Hershey found the back of the net at 5:22 after defenseman Patrick McNeill (4th) sent a one timer blast from the right circle past the glove of Harri Sateri to put the Sharks down 1-0. A funny bounce on a clear in left Sateri behind his net and Matt Pope (2nd) fired into an empty net at 8:28 to give the Bears a 2-0 edge. The Sharks trailed 2-0 after 20 minutes despite outshooting Hershey 8-6. Hershey went ahead 3-0 after a 45 shot by Casey Wellman (14th) at 13:18 went through a screen and into the back of the net as the Bears power play came to an end. Peter Sivak almost got the Sharks on the board late in the middle frame but couldn’t control a bouncing puck rebound into an empty net. Worcester trailed 3-0 after 40 minutes despite holding a 24-13 shot advantage through two. Derek Joslin (3rd) got the Sharks on the board at 6:19 with a quick snap shot from 40 feet from the left circle that sailed over the shoulder of Dany Sabourin to cut the Bears lead to 3-1. But the Bears got it right back with a terrific individual rush and finish by Garrett Mitchell (13th) at 8:29 to put Hershey back up by three. Play slowed down the rest of the way as the Sharks dropped the 4-1 decision. The Sharks overall record falls to 29-26-1-6 (65pts in 62gp) and 13-12-1-4 (31pts in 30gp) on home ice this season.

2018 at Reading 3-0 loss
(RAILERS) The Worcester Railers HC (31-26-4-4, 70pts) closed out a three-game road trip with a 3-0 loss to the host Reading Royals (35-23-8-0, 78pts) in front of 5,797 fans at the Santander Arena on Saturday evening. Mitch Gillam made 25 saves in net. Mark Dekanich made 28 saves in net for Reading as Mark Bennett had a goal and an assist to lead the way offensively for the Royals as Worcester’s six game (5-0-0-1) point streak came to an end. Neither team found the back of the net in a fast paced first period of play as Wheeling held an 11-10 shot advantage through 20 minutes of play. Worcester went 0-2 on the power play but had a few good looks on goaltender Mark Dekanich. Reading grabbed two goals in the second period to take a 2-0 lead into the second intermission. Brian Morgan (9th) scored on a breakaway with a snap shot past the blocker of Mitch Gillam at 5:07. Mark Bennett (4th) scored into an empty net after a clearing attempt behind the Railers net skipped past the stick of Gillam who was unable to recover before Bennett fired the puck into the empty net from the right wall. Worcester held a 20-18 shot advantage through 40 minutes of play but trailed 2-0. The Royals added to their lead as Mike Huntebrinker (19th) ripped a one-timer from the left circle top shelf after a cross ice pass at 5:36 of the third period to give Reading the 3-0 lead. A near brawl broke out at 18:50 after Matt Wilkins through a late hit and then got pummeled by Mike Cornell with all ten players coming together. Mark Dekanich made eight more saves in the third period to hold onto his 3rd shutout of the season.

2019 at Reading 4-1 loss
(RAILERS) The Worcester Railers HC (30-26-6-4, 70pts) wrapped up a busy 3-in-3 weekend with a 4-1 loss to the host Reading Royals (29-28-4-6,68pts) in front of 2,836 fans at the Santander Arena on Sunday afternoon. With the loss,the Railers are now three points behind Maine for the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division with six games remaining. Tyler Barnes scored his team leading 27th goal for Worcester while Blake Wajtala made 38 saves in net as the Railers scored just a single goal in their third straight game. Brayden Low and Michael Huntebrinker each had a goal and an assist for Reading while Jamie Phillips made 28 saves in net as Worcester dropped their fourth straight games (0-3-1-0). Tyler Barnes (27th) gave the Railers a 1-0 lead after great work by Barry Almeida and Ryan Hitchcock at 7:05 of the first period. Reading would tie the score with 60 seconds left as Michael Huntebrinker (16th) snapped a quick shot on the rush from the right wing side past Blake Wajtala’s blocker. Reading held a 12-7 shot advantage through 20 minutes of play as the two clubs were tied 1-1. Reading went ahead 2-1 as Brayden Low (14th) scored through a screen from 20 feet out at 1:54 of the second period. Play opened up in the middle frame as Reading outshot Worcester 15-11 and took a 2-1 lead into the second intermission. The Royals added an insurance goal at 11:46 of the third period as Adam Schmidt (23rd) finished a 2-on-1 rush with a wicked shot. Kevin Goumas (5th) added an empty netter at 17:00 as Jamie Phillips added 11 more saves as the Royals grabbed the 4-1 home victory.

2023 at Adirondack 4-1 loss
(RAILERS) Somewhere in the weeks following their torrid start this season the Railers developed a couple of bad habits, both of which worked against them in a 4-1 loss to the Adirondack Thunder here Friday night. Worcester always seems to be playing the hottest team in the ECHL, and seems to have a discouraging tendency to give up a goal right after it scores one. In any case, Friday night’s defeat cut the Railers’ lead over the Thunder to five points in the North Division playoff race. Adirondack has two games in hand, so the battle is close to being a tie. With the clock winding down rapidly in the regular season, Adirondack is playing its best hockey of the year. The Thunder is 5-0-2 in its last seven games, earning 12 of a possible 14 points. Adirondack was led offensively by Patrick Grasso. He registered a hat trick with a trio of goals, the last into an empty net, the last one his 30th of the season. Grant Jozefek had the other Thunder goal. He has 17 in 58 games for the Thunder this season after scoring one in 14 games for the Railers last season. Brent Beaudoin had the Worcester goal. Despite the fact that Worcester has gotten some offensive reinforcements in recent days including Steve Jandric Friday night, the Railers are not finding the net. This was not like Wednesday night, though, when coach Jordan Smotherman called his team’s play uninspired. “We played inspired but not smart,” he said. “The guys worked hard but not smart. Ultimately it came down to that we are playing a team that is now playing structured, playing simple and playing hard.” Wednesday night’s meeting between the two teams never really got going, but this one got going instantly and the first period was great hockey. The Railers and Thunder played most of it evenly but Worcester sagged a bit halfway through and Adirondack took advantage to gain the lead. Grasso made it 1-0 with a sniper shot at 12:01. He took a pass from Shane Harper near the top of the right circle and snapped a wrist shot past Henrik Tikkanen just inside the far post. Worcester was outshot, 17-10, but had some good chances that did not result in a shot on goal. One of the Railers’ most active offensive players in that period was defenseman Conor Breen, who went into the night with no points in 15 games. The second period had to be one of the team’s most frustrating 20 minutes of the season. Worcester owned the ice for most the period and skated in the second 10 minutes the way it did during the season’s early weeks when the Railers were the best team in the ECHL. The Thunder had a 12-6 edge in shots on goal and that was probably accurate since the majority of Worcester’s best scoring chances either did not get to the net or went wide. Goalie Jake Theut made two terrific saves to preserve his team’s 1-0 lead. Both were on rookie Anthony Callin. Callin was set up by Anthony Repaci for a clear 20-footer at the bottom of the right circle and went high, but Theut got a shoulder on it. Then, with eight seconds left in the period the Railers worked a classic tic-tac-toe finish to an odd-man rush and Theut smothered Callin’s bid from in close. Beaudoin finally tied the game 4:12 of the third period, set up by Nolan Vesey. It was the redoubtable Beaudoin’s 19th of the year. So much for momentum, though, as Jozefek scored from in close at 4:50 to turn the tide back in Adirondack’s favor Grasso made it 3-1 at 8:03 and got the empty netter at 17:22. Even with what seems like more firepower in uniform, Worcester has scored just five goals in the last nine periods. “We’ve got to learn that we can’t do it by ourselves,” Smotherman said. “Talent doesn’t do it unless you put it together with the other four guys on the ice.” The teams are at again here Saturday night in this pre-playoff series with the Railers needing to turn the race around somehow.
MAKING TRACKS – With Jandric and Newkirk on the roster, both Nick Fea and Zack Bross have been released. … Jandric got back his Number 44, so Victor has Number 22. … Worcester’s injured list includes Max Johnson, Jack Quinlivan, Quin Ryan and Christian Evers. … The Railers next game at the DCU Center is Wednesday night versus the Trois-Rivieres Lions. It is the opener of a five-game homestand. … There was a noticeable Worcester presence in the stands with a contingent of Booster Club members making the trip.


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