HARTFORD, Conn – In their fourth and final matchup of the season, the Connecticut Whale completed a season sweep of the Worcester Sharks Thursday at the XL Center, by a count of 3-0. The 29–save shutout was the second of the year for netminder Cam Talbot. On the offensive end, Brandon Segal picked up his 40th point with a timely third period goal, and Sam Klassen scored his first American Hockey League goal.
A scoreless first period definitely left the impression that the San Jose Sharks’ top affiliate had the edge; with two power play tries in the first 20 minutes, Worcester was outshooting Connecticut by a substantial margin. Chances came late in the period for the Whale, however; the shot clock read 13-7 in Worcester’s favor at intermission with no score. “Starting off, they were all over us,” Talbot said after the game. “It was us weathering the storm. We took it to ‘em after that. Goaltending can be a momentum and confidence thing. Skaters need to play their game and not worry about the guy behind them. ”
Early in the second, Kelsey Tessier broke up the ice and, with a chance to make a play on a rebound, was hooked by Matt Tennyson. The penalty prevented what almost undoubtedly would have been the first score of the game.
The minor at 1:06 would not prove worthwhile. Just 16 seconds into the man advantage, Christian Thomas converted, taking a pass from Logan Pyett at the point. Walking to the left circle, Thomas fired on Harri Sateri’s net with Tessier screening. Thomas’ 18th came at 1:23, assisted by Pyett and Mike Vernace.
Off a defensive zone draw three minutes in, former Shark and current Whale Brandon Mashinter fought his way up ice and, being harassed by Taylor Doherty, ran over Sateri on the edge of the crease. Sateri would retire after the collision, leaving the ice after Doherty and Mashinter engaged in fisticuffs. Sateri finished with 10 stops on 11 shots against.
Thomas Heemskerk replaced Sateri in goal, making just his second appearance in the AHL on the year. Heemskerk has now appeared in six AHL games in his career; five of those have been in relief of the starting goaltender.
Physicality continued in the second, with Andrew Yogan and Sena Acolatse starting a scrum in the corner. They both sat for roughing, and Acolatse for an additional minor for boarding at 11:23.
In a role reversal, Vernace, a defenseman, had a chance on goal alone in the slot, just before Segal, a forward, hustled to backcheck and break up a two on one in the closing minutes of the second.
Coming into the third with a 1-0 lead, the Whale struck again, with Segal scoring, in dramatic fashion as usual. At 2:07, the Whale’s leading goal-scorer buried his 21st goal, and 40th point. With Nick Palmieri and Yogan grinding along the goal line, Segal managed to find his way inside and sneak a backhand through Heemskerk for a two-goal lead.
Nearly five minutes later, Klassen struck to stretch the lead further. Fed by Micheal Haley, Tessier handed the puck up the wall, and Klassen was waiting at the point to one-time it. Thomas was, again, in front of the Worcester crease, but the shot was deflected past Heemskerk by one of his own defenders.
Talbot also spoke praises of Klassen and some other less frequent scorers, saying, “We’ve been getting a lot of secondary and tertiary scoring. We’re getting goals from everyone lately.”
Just one third-period penalty made for a quick finish, and the two standings points bump Connecticut in to the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference. Heemskerk stopped 18 of the 20 he faced in relief.
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