Portland Hosts Battle of Heavyweights in Atlantic Division

Portland Hosts Battle of Heavyweights in Atlantic Division
By Andrew Nawn

The Worcester Sharks (18-12-1-2, 39 points) return to action today to take on the Atlantic Division leading Portland Pirates (20-12-1-1, 42 points) and wrap up a four game road trip. The Sharks are coming off a 2-1 win in Hershey this past Sunday trail Portland by three points for the Division lead. Worcester is (3-3-0-0) verse Portland this year and (1-2-0-0) in Portland. The two teams play again in Worcester this Sunday, January 13th at 3 pm.

Previous game results this season:

October 19, 2012 WOR 4 AT POR 7 Loss

November 9, 2012- POR 1 AT WOR 3 Win

November 14, 2012- WOR 4 AT POR 2 Win

November 24, 2012 POR 1 AT WOR 5 Win

November 30, 2012 WOR 3 AT POR 4 Loss

December 16, 2012 POR 3 AT WOR 2 Loss

A Look at Portland…
Portland (20-12-1-1) goes into this game as one of the hottest teams in the AHL winning eight of their last ten games. The Pirates are coming off a (1-1-0-0) weekend where they lost to the Providence Bruins 3-2 and then bounced back with a 2-1 win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers to hold on to their Atlantic Division lead. Portland’s rookie goaltender, Mark Visentin was honored with the CCM/AHL Player of the Week Award after he was stellar in this past week’s action. Visentin was a pivotal part in two of Portland’s recent victories making 89 saves on 91 shots while compiling a 1.00 goals against average and a .978 save percentage. The Pirates are (9-9-1-0) verse Atlantic Division opponents this season.

Pirates to Watch….
Portland’s captain and leading scorer Alexandre Bolduc has enjoyed playing against Worcester this season as nearly a quarter of his points have come verse the Sharks this season and in six games verse Worcester this year, Bolduc has collected 7 points (2 goals, 5 assists). For the season Bolduc leads the Pirates with 30 points (16 goals, 14 assists) in 33 games. Chris Conner is another Pirate who has enjoyed playing verse Worcester this year as he is the only other Portland forward to average a point per game verse the Sharks. In his six games verse Worcester this year, Conner has posted 6 points (3 goals, 3 assists), which accounts for a third of his 17 points ( 6 goals, 11 assists) he has tallied over the season. In terms of Portland goaltending verse Worcester this season we have seen both Chad Johnson and Mark Vistentin three times each.  Johnson though has seen better success verse Worcester as he has gone (2-1-0-0) while registering a 2.34 goals against average and 0.919 save percentage in those contests.

Shark Bites….

• Matt Tennyson, James Sheppard, and Bracken Kearns are the only three Sharks to play in all 33 games this season.
• Jon Matsumoto has tallied 11 points ( 5 goals, 6 assists) out of his 18 points on the season verse Atlantic Division opponents.
• Worcester currently holds the best record verse Atlantic Division opponents at (13-5-1-1)
• Alex Stalock made a season high 37 saves in Worcester’s 5-1 over Portland on November 24th.
• No Love lost between these two teams…….In the six games the teams have played this season they are averaging 56 penalty minutes between them.

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