Coming into last night’s game, the Springfield Falcons were one of only three teams in the AHL yet to lose in regulation. The Worcester Sharks, on the other hand, were seeming to struggle to get momentum going to start their season. In the first of 6 meetings of the season, the Falcons won 4-3 in a fight filled battle.
The Sharks found themselves into the penalty box first, less than a minute into the game. But, they held off the Falcons and got back to even strength. When the Sharks went on their first power play, they did not waste much time converting. Just 38 seconds into the power play, defenseman Sena Acolatse took a rocket of a shot from the point. There was a lot of traffic in front of the net and Daniil Tarasov managed to beat Mike McKenna. The assists went to Bracken Kearns and Acolatse.
After the first game between the teams of the season, it was not a surprise that the second game was physical as well. Sharks goalie Harri Sateri seemed to be giving up rebounds, but the team played well in front of him. At the same time, the Falcons seemed to be missing a lot of shots wide. The teams went to the first intermission with the Sharks leading 1-0.
When the teams came out for the second period, the Falcons showed why they had been so successful to start the season. Jake Hansen broke away on a Sharks power play and skated down. He took a shot that seemed to trickle past Sateri for the short handed goal. The goal was unassisted and was Hansen’s third goal in two games against the Sharks.
At 6:48, tensions reached a boiling point for the first time in the game. Curt Gogol of the Sharks and Dalton Smith of the Falcons squared off. Gogol had the clear edge despite not being as much of a fighter as Smith. He landed more of the punches and managed to get Smith down first.
Less than a minute after the fight, a penalty shot was awarded to the Falcons. Once again it was a short handed chance for Hansen who was pulled down short of the net. The shot wrung off the post and bounced out, much to the disappointment of Falcons fans. After that chance, the Sharks took control of the game again. Once again, Tarasov showed his skill. He was at the side of the net and easily managed to beat McKenna from the corner.
But Tarasov was not done. He had a breakaway and easily went five-hole for the hat trick. It was the first hat trick by a Worcester Shark in 264 games. The last was a hat trick scored by Dan DaSilva on February 14, 2010 in Manchester. Just over a minute later, Dalton Smith stepped in to stand up for his team again. This time he took on Matt Pelech of the Sharks. The two only exchanged a few punches before Pelech went down.
When the teams came back out for the third, it was still a physical game. It was also an uncharacteristic game for Springfield. The Falcons were getting outshot and outplayed. The Sharks were desperate for the two points. The real test came when the Falcons got 26 seconds of 5 on 3 hockey. The Sharks did not even let the Falcons set up during their two man advantage. Then the Falcons were not able to get set up cleanly when it was just the man advantage either.
That seemed to be the icing on the cake for a game that ended with the Sharks winning 3-1. It was the first career professional hat trick for Daniil Tarasov. It was his fifth goal in 4 games so far this season. Tarasov leads the team in points and his second on the team in points.
The teams both had Sunday off and will be back at it this coming weekend. They will face each other four more times this season, but they will have to wait awhile. The next meeting is January 31st in Worcester.