Chris Kreider’s hat trick led the Connecticut Whale to a 4-3 victory over the Worcester Sharks Sunday afternoon at the Koeppel Community Center at Trinity College, in the Whale’s last of four AHL preseason games.
Kreider scored once in each of the three periods, and fellow New York Ranger first-round pick J.T. Miller also had a goal, as the Whale won its second straight game after dropping its first two preseason starts. Scott Stajcer made 19 saves to get the win. The Whale power play was 3/5.
James Sheppard had a goal and an assist for Worcester, Sebastian Stalberg and Marek Viedensky also scored and Travis Oleksuk had two assists.
The Whale jumped on top at 7:36 of the first period, with Kreider scoring an unassisted goal. Kreider worked the puck away from Matt Pelech at the right point in the Whale zone and moved down left wing, eventually snapping a shot past Shark starting goaltender Alex Stalock (three goals-against on 21 shots).
Connecticut made it a 2-0 advantage on a power play at 17:20, as Sean Collins sent a slick feed to Miller in center ice and Miller used Pelech as a screen to beat Stalock from the left circle.
After the Sharks killed off a major penalty assessed to Curt Gogol for boarding at 17:41, Worcester would get on the scoreboard at 5:45 of the second period, in a delayed-penalty situation, as Stalberg slipped a shot from the right circle through Stajcer’s pads.
Connecticut got that goal back just 1:13 later at 7:20, with another power-play score. With Matt Tennyson in the penalty box for tripping, Kreider headed down the right-wing side in the Worcester zone and tried to backhand a pass to Kris Newbury at the left post, only to have the puck hit a Shark defender and go into the net for a 3-1 Whale lead.
That lasted until the 15:05 mark, when Viedensky made it a one-goal game again for Worcester. Covering the left point, Viedensky stopped a Whale clearing attempt and beat Stajcer to the glove side with a slap shot.
Kreider then notched the eventual game-winner, and Connecticut’s third power-play goal of the contest, at 5:57 of the third period, with Oleksuk off for high-sticking. Kreider took a feed from Newbury and whipped a shot from the left circle past the short side of Harri Sateri (one goal-against on eight shots), who replaced Stalock in the Shark net to start the third.
Worcester closed to within one again at 16:56, when Sheppard scored on a Shark power play. Stajcer made a pad save on a point shot by Danny Groulx, but the rebound deflected to the left circle, where Sheppard pounced on it and ripped it into the net before Stajcer could recover.
The Whale open their 2012-13 regular season this Friday, October 12 at the XL Center, with a 7:30 PM battle against their in-state rivals the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. At that game, all fans can purchase tickets at the special price of $12 each, and that night will also kick off the Whale’s new Friday night $1 hot dogs and $2 beers promotion.
Tickets for that game, and all Whale regular season home games at the XL Center, are on sale now at the Public Power Ticket Office at the XL Center, through TicketMaster Charge-by-Phone at 1-800-745-3000 and on-line at www.ticketmaster.com.
Worcester Sharks 3 at Connecticut Whale 4
Sunday, October 7, 2012 - Koeppel Community Sports Center
Worcester 0 2 1 - 3
Connecticut 2 1 1 - 4
1st Period-1, Connecticut, Kreider 2 7:36. 2, Connecticut, Miller 3 (Collins), 17:20 (PP). Penalties-Parlett Ct (closing hand on puck), 8:45; Niemi Ct (holding the stick), 13:26; Tam Wor (interference), 16:59; Gogol Wor (major - boarding, fighting, game misconduct), 17:41; Haley Ct (fighting), 17:41.