November 12, 2012

AHL Journal: Sharks' Stalock stretches winning streak to six

By Jesse Connolly

They say it’s not about how you start, but rather how you finish. In the case of Alex Stalock, there’s a long way to go before 2012-13 is in the books, but the promising backstop has certainly rebounded nicely after stumbling out of the gate.

The Worcester Sharks netminder -- who missed majority of the 2011-12 campaign due to injury -- began this season with two losses, the second of which saw him cough up seven goals in a loss to Portland on Oct. 19. Since that shellacking, not once has Stalock’s name been found in the loss column.

On Sunday, the 25-year-old goaltender notched his sixth straight victory, as Worcester went down to Providence and topped the Bruins by a score of 4-3 in the shootout. The game marked the second time in three days that Stalock and the Sharks were forced to mount a late comeback.

On Friday, Worcester welcomed the Pirates to town and yielded a goal quickly to the visiting squad. Chris Brown beat Stalock at the 1:02 mark of the contest and their lead held up until the Sharks tallied thrice in the final frame. Worcester’s backstop did his part, stopping all 20 shots he faced in the last 40 minutes of action.

In Sunday’s win over the P-Bruins, it was the Sharks that grabbed the early lead, but Providence responded with three straight goals, pushing their lead to two when defenseman Garnet Exelby scored 6:18 into the second period. Once again, Stalock went into lockdown mode. He made 11 saves in the third, two in overtime then stoned the Bruins’ final three shooters in the shootout. Brandon Mashinter scored what proved to be the winning strike.

With the victory, Worcester (6-5-1-1) climbed above .500 and moved to within a point of the Atlantic Division-leading Monarchs (7-3-0-1). Stalock, who owns an impressive 2.38 goals-against average, is now tied for third in the AHL with six wins on the season.

News and Notes

- After spanking the Whale by a score of 10-2 last Sunday, Springfield couldn’t expect to repeat such a feat, but they didn’t need to with Curtis McElhinney protecting their crease. The Falcons netminder earned two shutouts over the weekend, blanking the Whale, 2-0, followed by a 5-0, runaway win against the Norfolk Admirals.

- Speaking of the Whale, penalty woes cost them during a daunting three-game road swing over the weekend which saw them drop two tilts. For more on Connecticut’s struggles, check out Mike Rappaport’s Whale Notebook.

- Bridgeport had themselves a perfect week. The Sound Tigers downed the Admirals, 4-2, on Wednesday, beat the Monarchs by a score of 5-2 on Friday and overcame a 3-1 deficit to beat the Whale, 4-3, on Sunday. Nino Niederreiter (pictured right) picked up four points in the three victories. For more on Bridgeport, check out Christian Arnold’s latest Sound Tigers Notebook.

- The P-Bruins scored a total of five goals in three games this weekend, and unsurprisingly found themselves on the losing end on two occasions. Niklas Svedberg played well in goal, going 1-1 in his two starts. Michael Hutchinson stopped 29-of-32 on Sunday but slipped to 0-4-0-1 on the year.

- After a pair of frustrating losses, the Pirates ended the weekend on a high note Sunday, defeating the Bears in Hershey by a score of 3-1. Alex Bolduc scored his team-leading eighth goal of the season in the win and now ranks fourth in the AHL in tallies.

- Manchester’s weekend went in a similar fashion to the Pirates. After allowing a season-high five goals to Bridgeport on Friday night, Martin Jones rebounded on Sunday, stopping all 19 shots he faced in a win over the P-Bruins.

Player of the Week

Brock Nelson, Bridgeport Sound Tigers

The Sound Tigers’ rookie phenom had a dynamite week, racking up six points in three games to help Bridgeport climb up the standings in the Eastern Conference.

A 21-year-old native of Minnesota, Nelson had a goal and an assist in each of the three wins and is now riding a five-game point streak and five-game goal streak. He and fellow Sound Tiger Niederreiter are tied for seventh in the AHL in scoring.

The Week Ahead

Here’s how the schedule looks for the Seaside Seven:

Wednesday, Nov. 14

Adirondack Phantoms @ Manchester Monarchs (10:00 a.m.)

Worcester Sharks at Portland Pirated (7:00 p.m.)

Springfield Falcons @ Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (7:05 p.m.)

Friday, Nov. 16

Portland Pirates @ Connecticut Whale (7:00 p.m.)

Manchester Monarchs @ Providence Bruins (7:05 p.m.)

Bridgeport Sound Tigers at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (7:05 pm.)

Springfield Falcons @ Norfolk Admirals (7:30 p.m.)

Saturday, Nov. 10

Manchester Monarchs @ Bridgeport Sound Tigers (7:00 p.m.)

Providence Bruins @ Portland Pirates (7:00 p.m.)

Connecticut Whale @ Worcester Sharks (7:00 p.m.)

Springfield Falcons @ Norfolk Admirals (7:15 p.m.)

Sunday, Nov. 11

Bridgeport Sound Tigers @ Providence Bruins (3:05 p.m.)

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseNEHJ.