January Preview

A look at the month of January
By Andrew Nawn
The Worcester Sharks (17-11-1-2, 37 points) enter the month of January enjoying a successful month of December were they went (8-3-0-1.) The Sharks finished the calendar year 2012 with a 32-35-9 record.
A quick look back on December;
·         All 12 games in the month of December where decided by one goal.
·         The leading scorer in the month of December was Jon Matsumoto who collected 11 points (5 goals, 6 assists.) His best game came verse Hershey on 12/15 where he scored a goal and added two assists to go along with the Shark’s only shootout goal in the Sharks 4-3 shootout win over the Bears.
·         Defenseman Matt Tennyson continues to his strong rookie campaign as he leads all Worcester rookies in points with 15 (3 goals, 12 assists). In December Tennyson collected 6 points (1 goal, 5 assists)
·         Harri Sateri was very impressive between the pipes in December compiling a (5-2-0-0) record to accompany 2.11 goals against average and a .938 save percentage. He is currently on a two game win streak.
Taking a look at each game in the month of January;
·         Worcester plays six home games and five away games during the month of January. This month the Sharks will tie their longest home stand of the season (4 games) from January 13th to the 19th.
·         Worcester will go on the road for the first three games of the month to conclude a four game road trip, which is their second longest road trip of the season.
·         Only four of the eleven games come against Atlantic Division opponents this month, the only month where Worcester will face fewer divisional opponents is in April when they only play Manchester twice.
·         January 5th @ Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins (14-14-2-1, 31 points) The Sharks start the month of January on the road to continue a four game road trip, this is the first meeting of four between the two teams. Former Worcester and San Jose Sharks forward Benn Ferriero plays for the Penguins where he has collected 17 points (4 goals, 13 assists.) This game is also Wilkes-Barre/Scranton annual Pink in the Rink Game.
·         January 6th @ Hershey Bears (16-14-1-1, 34 points) The Sharks continue their four game road trip to take on the Bears in their second meeting out of four in the season. Worcester has  already beat Hershey this season in a thrilling 4-3 come from behind shootout victory on 12/15 in Hershey.
·         January 8th @ Portland Pirates (18-11-1-1, 38 points) Worcester wraps up their second longest road trip of the season with a trip up to Portland. Currently the Sharks are (3-3-0-0) versus the Pirates this year. In the six games the teams are averaging 56 penalty minutes between them. On November 24th, the two teams combined for 143 penalty minutes, with Worcester amassing 78 penalty minutes and Portland collecting 65 penalty minutes.
·         January 11th verse Springfield Falcons (17-8-2-3, 39 points) Worcester will be facing the former divisional opponent this season for the first of eight meetings. Worcester’s all time record verse Springfield  is (34-17-3) which is the best record verse any one opponent. The Falcons’ offense is paced by Cam Atkinson who has collected 35 points (16 goals, 19 assists) and is third in the AHL in scoring.
·         January 12th @ Albany Devils (11-11-1-6, 29 points) The Sharks will make the trip down to Albany with hopes of returning the home opening loss the Devils gave them back in October. Former UNH star Bobby Butler is enjoying his first season with Albany as he leads the team in points with 21 (7 goals, 14 assists)
·         January 13th verse Portland Pirates (18-11-1-1, 38 points) Worcester starts its longest home stand of the season as they play four consecutive home games. This game should hold some significance as the Atlantic Division has been one of tightest divisions in the AHL this season making every divisional game crucial and important.
·         January 16th verse Hershey Bears (16-14-1-1, 34 points) For Hershey this is the first of two trips up to Worcester. In between the pipes for Hershey is one of the top upcoming goalies in the NHL, Braden Holtby, who started in all of the Washington Capitals 2012 playoff games. This season Holtby is (12-10-0-1) with a 2.15 goals against and a .833 save percentage to accompany 4 shutouts.
·         January 18th verse Manchester Monarchs(14-15-2-2, 32 points) This will be the first and only time these two teams meet this month, as the Sharks are (5-2-0-0) against them this season. With each game being hard hitting and intense, this game will be one of the games to watch this month. The game will also be televised on Charter TV Channel 3, as it is the first of five games to be aired live this season.
·         January 19th verse Adirondack Phantoms (13-16-1-1, 28 points) Worcester will wrap up their longest home stand with one of the biggest games at the DCU Center this season. Adirondack is one of the teams that has many young stars on the roster due to the NHL Lockout. Brayden Schenn 32 points (13 goals, 19 assists) and Sean Courtier 27 points (9 goals, 18 assists) lead the group of young stars on the Phantoms roster. The game will also feature a Rob Gronkowski bobble head which the first 3,000 fans will receive upon entry to the game.
·         January 25th @ Springfield Falcons (17-8-2-3, 39 points) The Sharks will travel up to the Mass Mutual Center in the second meeting of eight between these two opponents.  The Falcon’s net minder Curtis McElhinney is a player to watch and has been a major reason why Springfield is off to a great start as he leads the AHL in wins (15) and shutouts (6) to accompany a 2.16 goals against average and a .931 save percentage.
·         January 26th verse Providence (16-11-0-2, 34 points) Worcester will close out the month of January by hosting Providence in a game that will be aired on Charter TV Channel 3. The Sharks have enjoyed early success against the Bruins going (5-0-0-1) this season, with all six games being decided by one goal.
With many more chances to come see Worcester play this season, hopefully you can make the trip to the DCU Center and see the Sharks continue their journey towards the Calder Cup Playoffs!

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