Monday, March 15, 2010
SHARKS MUNCH ON BEARS
Sunday afternoon’s meeting at the DCU Center between the respective divisional leaders in the AHL’s Eastern Conference, the Hershey Bears and Worcester Sharks, was billed as a “Battle of the Titans”; however, the contest ended up being a titanic mismatch, as the Sharks swam circles around the Bears and departed the affair with a convincing 6-2 win.
The Bears, finishing up a three game in three nights road swing that started in Adirondack on Friday night, followed by Springfield last night, were never able to sustain an attack against the Sharks’ defense and goaltender, Alex Stalock, who leads the AHL in wins, until the final minutes of the game when the outcome had been settled long before.
The Sharks controlled the play from the opening faceoff by depositing a pair of goals off the sticks of Derek Joslin and John McCarthy past Hershey starting goaltender, Michal Neuvirth, to take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
Hershey’s high scoring offensive line of Alexandre Giroux, Andrew Gordon and Keith Aucoin, along with the defensive pairing of Patrick Wellar and Zach Miskovic, were on the ice for both first period strikes against. Miskovic, the Bears’ rookie out of St. Lawrence University, bobbled a puck at his own blueline that led to the Joslin goal and allowed McCarthy to skate around him on the second goal.
After the game, when questioned about Miskovic’s play on both goals, Bears head coach, Mark French, chose not to single out Miskovic’s individual efforts, but lay the blame on the play of the whole team.
“We didn’t have a good period as a team. I’m not going to single out anybody,” he said.
The Sharks relentless attack continued in the second period when they added three goals off the sticks of Mike Moore (penalty shot), Brandon Mashinter and Andrew Desjardins to take a 5-0 lead.
Desjardins’ goal spelled the end of the night for Neuvirth, who departed after allowing five goals on 21 shots in 33:58 of action.
“I thought it was an opportunity; he faced his fair share of shots,” French said of his decision to pull Neuvirth.
Goals by the Bears’ Michal Dubuc and Chris Bourque late in the third period cut the Sharks lead to 5-2, but Desjardins’ second goal of the game sealed the deal for the Sharks.
French, whose club still sits comfortably atop the AHL standings in spite of the loss on Sunday, had a short answer when asked to “put in perspective” occasional lopsided losses like Sunday’s and if they are to be expected.
“What do we have, 103 points? I think you answered your own question,” said French.
If there is a silver lining in the Bears’ failure to clinch the division title because of the setback, it’s that they get a chance to do it on Friday night on home ice against the Albany River Rats, their closest pursuers.
“It will be a good game; Albany is a good team,” French commented.