In the baseball film, “Bull Durham” the Manager of the baseball team that Kevin Costner plays for is upset after a loss and tells his players his view of the game this way:
“This is a simple game. Ya throw the ball; Ya hit the ball; Ya catch the ball.”
Well, hockey is not nearly as simple a game as baseball, but if asked it’s not too far of a stretch of the imagination to say that Connecticut Whale head coach Ken Gernander would probably say that in order to win in hockey there are also three things to win: Skate hard for sixty minutes, score timely goals and stay out of the penalty box.
On the road Friday night in Worcester to play the Sharks for the third game in the team’s roughest stretch of the season, five-games-in-eight-days, the Whale were unable to do any of those three consistently, especially the latter, and despite coming back from a goal down three separate times, the New York Rangers’ top affiliate wound up dropping a 4-3 decision on a late goal by the game’s First Star, Brandon Mashinter with 2:56 to play in the contest.
After the Whale put some offensive pressure of their own in the closing minutes on the Sharks rookie netminder Harri Sateri (7-4-0, 31 saves), the Sharks came down and put on a heavy forecheck and hemmed then Whale in their own end.
Tony Lucia, the game’s Second Star, picked up the puck just inside the Whale’s side of the ice along the left wing wall. Lucia made a mad rush and came right at Whale goaltender Cam Talbot (8-6-0, 27 saves). Talbot made the initial stop on Lucia’s shot, but the puck rebounded out to the slot where Mashinter, who’d got away from Whale defenseman Brendan Bell, retrieved it and wristed it from fifteen feet away past the glove of Talbot for his fourth of the season.
Despite the outcome, Gernander told the Whale’s Brian Ring that, “It was a good, competitive game tonight. We seemed to swing the momentum in the second period, (and) play better,” He said. “I think things were going our way, but they were negated by penalties.”
The Whale were shorthanded six times throughout the entire contest. With six seconds left in the second period after a scrum led to a fight between Mashinter and the Whale’s Jared Nightingale. Following that referees Ryan Hersey and Geno Binda sent Bell (tripping) and Andre Deveaux (slashing) to the penalty box and just Matt Pelech (roughing) for the Sharks. After killing off 1:55 to start the third, the Whale were called first for a Chris McKelvie high stick at 4:17 and then a Deveaux kneeing penalty at 6:43. While they killed off all three, it kept the Whale from establishing any kind of offensive threat and just six seconds after killing off Deveaux’s penalty, their luck ran out.
Mashinter, who had a Gordie Howe hat trick on the night, took the puck along the left wing boards and moved it to Sean Sullivan at the left point. Sullivan swung the puck around quickly to Mike Moore at the right point. Moore fired a shot on net that hit Talbot right in the chest. The Whale goaltender, playing for the second straight game while Chad Johnson is on personal leave from a death in his family, could not corral the puck in and it dropped right in front of him just outside the left side of the crease. Right-winger Jack Combs was right there to knock it past Talbot to give the lead back to Worcester for the third time in the game at 8:49.
But as they had three times prior, the Whale battled back. The game’s third star, Tim Erixon, just back from recall with the Rangers, rocketed a shot from the high slot after shaking off Tommy Wingels along the right wing boards. Erixon’s shot was redirected by Andreas Thuresson and avoided Sateri’s glove and into the back of the net to tie the score at three at 13:32.
The Whale had some great chances to score late in the third period, the two best being from Kelsey Tessier and Thuresson with just under six minutes left in regulation but their in-close chances were repelled by Sateri.
Worcester got on the board first at 5:20 of the first period when Mashinter’s shot from the left side hit Talbot’s glove and fell, much as it did for Combs’ goal later, right into the crease. Lucia was able to backhand it past Talbot for the game’s first goal.
The Whale regrouped after a listless first period and knotted the score at 5:02 of the second period when Jonathan Audy-Marchessault scored his team leading eleventh goal of the season after he got away from Sullivan came through the middle of the ice and perfectly timed a redirection of a smash of a shot from Pavel Valentenko from the top of the high slot set up by another in a long series of great passes from Kris Newbury.
It only was 2:08 later that while playing four-a-side, that Bell and Nightingale collided and fell to the ice in the offensive zone which left a loose puck for Mike Connolly to retrieve. Connolly led left winger John McCarthy perfectly for a breakaway. Despite Audy-Marchessault hooking him like he was trying to pull him off the stage like a bad Vaudeville act, McCarthy got off the shot and beat Talbot off his blocker-side shoulder to regain the lead for the Sharks.
But Gernander teams do not quit. at 9:50, just 2:40 after falling behind, the Whale struck again. Newbury again made a great pass, this time to Erixon who snapped a wrister from just inside the left circle near the slot and blew it right past Sateri for his second of the season. Bell was awarded the secondary helper.
For this five-games-in eight-days, the Whale are now 1-2-0-0.
The Whale go right back at it again with their I91 rival, the Springfield Falcons to finish out 2011 at the XL Center Saturday night at a special 5pm start time. Tickets for upper level seats are just $5.
Bill Ballou is overjoyed with the Worcester victory and makes it seem like they won the Calder Cup with the victory at Telegram.com.
(Standings provided by TheAHL.com)
* By game time the fate of Sean Avery will be known.
* Whale are 10-5-1-3 in one goal games, 4-3-0-1 when tied after two periods.
* Without a point in Friday’s contest, Andre Deveaux’s three game points streak came to a close.
* Kris Newbury is red hot with a six game points streak (2g, 11a, 13pts). Over that same six game span, Jonathan Audy-Marchessault has 7 pts. (3g, 4a)
Audy-Marchessault – Newbury – Deveaux
Bouchard – Tessier – Thuresson
Voros – Owens – Bourque
Grant – McKelvie – Tanski
Bell – Nightingale
Valentenko – Erixon
Baldwin – Parlett
(Assistant Captains Bold and Italicized)
Mats Zuccarello – Lower Body Injury – Indefinite
Wade Redden – Lower Body Injury – Indefinite
Sam Klassen – Healthy Scratch
Jeff Prough – Healthy Scratch
Chad Johnson – Excused Absence
1. WOR – B. Mashinter
2. WOR – T. Lucia
3. CT – T. Erixon
ON ICE OFFICIALS:
Ryan Hersey (46)
Geno Binda (22)
Ed Boyle (81)
Bob Paquette (18)
The Whale will take on their fourth game of the five in eight when they do battle on New Year’s eve with a special start time of 5pm. Bob Crawford will be on the air with the pre-game show at 4:50pm on WCCC.com.
To watch the game live, you can purchased it for $6.99 at AHL-live.
For Ticket information for all home games, call (860) 548-2000.
Connecticut 0 2 1 – 3
Worcester 1 1 2 – 4
1st Period-1, Worcester, Lucia 3 (Viedensky, Mashinter), 5:20. Penalties-Deveaux Ct (boarding), 2:44; Deveaux Ct (fighting), 18:00; Acolatse Wor (fighting), 18:00.
2nd Period-2, Connecticut, Audy-Marchessault 11 (Valentenko, Newbury), 5:02. 3, Worcester, McCarthy 8 (Connolly), 7:10. 4, Connecticut, Erixon 2 (Newbury, Bell), 9:50 (PP). Penalties-Valentenko Ct (boarding), 1:24; Wingels Wor (holding), 6:30; Newbury Ct (interference), 6:34; Combs Wor (interference), 8:32; Pelech Wor (interference), 12:31; Bell Ct (tripping), 19:54; Deveaux Ct (slashing), 19:54; Nightingale Ct (fighting), 19:54; Mashinter Wor (fighting), 19:54; Pelech Wor (roughing), 19:54.
3rd Period-5, Worcester, Combs 4 (Moore, Sullivan), 8:49. 6, Connecticut, Thuresson 8 (Erixon, Bell), 13:32. 7, Worcester, Mashinter 4 (Lucia, Del Monte), 17:04. Penalties-McKelvie Ct (high-sticking), 4:17; Deveaux Ct (kneeing), 6:43; Sullivan Wor (roughing), 11:29.
Shots on Goal-Connecticut 10-8-16-34. Worcester 13-7-11-31.
Power Play Opportunities-Connecticut 1 / 4; Worcester 0 / 6.
Goalies-Connecticut, Talbot 8-6-0 (31 shots-27 saves). Worcester, Sateri 7-4-0 (34 shots-31 saves).
Referees-Ryan Hersey (46), Geno Binda (22).
Linesmen-Ed Boyle (81), Bob Paquette (18).