Sharks take another bite out of Monarchs
MANCHESTER — The top team in the Eastern Conference clashed against the hottest team in the conference and lost Sunday.
Chris Tierney tallied two goals, including the game-winner, to lift Worcester past the Manchester Monarchs 4-3 before 3,987 fans at Verizon Wireless Arena.
The Sharks (20-14-3-2) have won seven straight games, including three against Manchester (26-9-3-2) over the last six days. Manchester, 2-3-2-1 in its last eight games, still holds the best record in the Eastern Conference by one point over Springfield, which lost to Binghamton Sunday, 6-3.
Three penalties in the first period put Manchester in a hole. The Sharks cashed in on two of them. Manchester winger Josh Gratton was called for boarding and Worcester defenseman Matt Taormina made him pay at 5:57 with a blistering shot from atop the blue line straight away.
Forth-eight seconds later, Manchester winger Justin Auger was whistled for tripping. Tierney turned that opportunity into a goal with a backhander in front of the crease at the 9:30 mark.
It appeared Worcester was on its way to getting an easy win when Taylor Doherty scored 1:15 into the second stanza. But Manchester gained some momentum when Andrew Crescenzi skated into the zone, past his defender and through the crease before depositing his second season goal past goalie J.P. Anderson (29 saves) for a shorthanded score.
But Worcester managed to regain its two-goal lead when Tierney, after collecting the puck at center ice, skated into the zone, veered left to the center before unleashing a line drive shot that zipped over Manchester goalie Patrik Bartosak’s shoulder and hit the twine just under the crossbar.
“That was just a great shot on his part, but I should have positioned myself a little higher,” said Bartosak. “The first two that went in, I didn’t really see but that’s no excuse. I have to do a better job battling for the sight (angle).”
Manchester goalie J.F. Berube was called up to Los Angeles Saturday, leaving Bartosak as Manchester’s top netminder. “I’m happy to get the chance to play more, but it’s just a matter of time before Jeff comes back.”
Manchester made it a game again late in the second period with a backhander from forward Ryan Horvat. He pounced on a loose puck that emerged from a scrum in back of the net. It was his first goal of the season.
The Monarchs, who outshot the Sharks 32-27, closed the gap to 4-3 with 14:12 remaining in the game. Kenton Miller was credited with the score in traffic just before the goal cage came off its hinges. The referee blew his whistle and waved the goal off, but after checking the videotape, it was deemed good. It was Miller’s first score of the season.
Manchester pulled Bartosak with 1:22 remaining for the extra skater, but Worcester held off the threat for the win. To add insult, Manchester was called for a roughing penalty with three seconds remaining in Worcester’s end.
Manchester coach Mike Stothers waited for most of his players to exit the game before yelling something out to the officials leaving the ice. He was obviously not happy that the Sharks were penalized just twice while his team got six penalties in the game.
“Unless you’re writing or reporting for an R-rated version, there’s not much I can tell you what I said,” said Stothers. “The end result is we didn’t get the job done today.”