Sharks Return Home Following Historic Road Trip

 
Sharks Return Home Following Historic Road Trip
First game at DCU Center since 2-1 victory over Binghamton on December 3rd
 
By: Andrew Hirsh
 
The Worcester Sharks host the Springfield Falcons tonight at 7 p.m. at the DCU Center. This will be the fourth meeting between the two Eastern Conference foes this year, with Worcester holding a 2-1 advantage in the season series. All three contests have been decided by one goal. The Sharks are 23-5-3 in their past 31 games versus Springfield.
 
The Sharks return to home ice following their most successful road trip in franchise history, winning five of seven games away from the DCU Center and collecting 11 points in the standings. This hot streak has elevated Worcester into seventh place in the Eastern Conference and third in the Atlantic Division with several games in hand.
 
On a conditioning assignment from San Jose, Antero Niittymaki is expected to start between the pipes for Worcester tonight as he continues to rehab from hip surgery. The Finnish netminder is 1-1-0 with a 2.05 GAA and 0.927 SV% in two games with Worcester this season.
 
Former NHL All-Star and Stanley Cup champion Manny Legace has started six straight in goal for Springfield, and it would be no surprise if he got the nod tonight. Despite winning only six of 16 games this season, he has been strong in net, posting a 2.26 GAA and 0.922 SV%. 
 
Forward Tommy Wingels has been the Sharks’ best player as of late. The Evanston, Illinois native is riding a six game point streak and has accumulated four goals and two assists in the past four games, earning the AHL’s Player of the Week award. A former sixth round pick, Wingels potted the game-winner in three straight for Worcester, tying him for first in the league with four GWG.
 
On the back end, Taylor Doherty continues to impress in his rookie campaign. The towering defenseman leads the team with a +10 plus/minus rating and has been one of the team’s most consistent players throughout the 2011-12 season. Standing at 6’7”, Doherty is the tallest player in franchise history.
 
For Springfield, Boston College alumnus Cam Atkinson has been the Falcons’ most productive skater this year, notching 14 goals and 22 points thus far. One of the league’s best rookies, Atkinson has lit the lamp in five straight and is currently fifth in scoring amongst first-year players. Alexandre Giroux has been solid for the Falcons as well, tallying nine goals in just 15 games. One of the most prominent players in the AHL, Giroux currently has the 10th most goals (349) in league history.
 
While Worcester has been playing their best hockey of the season, Springfield has been playing some of their worst. The Falcons have won just three of their last 11 games, scoring two goals or less eight times during that span. This bodes well for the Sharks, who have allowed the least amount of goals against (64) in the league.
 
But despite their lack of success, Springfield’s last nine losses have been by a single goal. While the Sharks appear to be the clear favorites tonight, fans should anticipate an exciting, competitive game vs. the Falcons.

Tickets as low as $10 at 508-929-0500!



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