Worcester Sharks Proving They Are Made to Last

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Worcester Sharks Proving They Are Made to Last The Worcester Sharks are doing something right.

As the American Hockey League affiliate to the NHL’s best team, the Sharks know talent when they see it — and their three selections to this year’s AHL All-Star game prove it.

Center Logan Couture will start for Team Canada in the AHL All-Star game. Couture, just a couple months shy of 21, leads all AHL rookies in points with 42, and boasts 16 goals, 26 assists and a plus-13 rating. Though in the midst of his first full AHL season, Couture skated in 12 games in the Calder Cup playoffs in 2009, registering two goals, an assist and a plus-five rating. It was during that playoff series that Couture began to make his mark as a professional, scoring his first-ever goal in a Game 4 win over Hartford and scoring his second in a critical Game 6 victory. The NHL seems to be taking notice of Couture’s talent, as he was one of
11 Worcester Sharks to be called up during the course of the 2009-10
season.

The native of London, Ontario, scored a goal and notched two assists in Worcester’s 6-5 win over Portland on Jan. 10, helping the Sharks come back from a 5-1 deficit in the second period. Worcester scored five unanswered goals after trailing for the first 23 minutes.

Couture’s impact on the Sharks’ lineup cannot be overlooked: In 27 games with Couture on the ice, the Sharks have scored 99 goals — that’s 3.66 goals per game — but in 12 games without him, they have scored just 23 goals, a whopping decline to 1.91 goals per game. He currently leads the AHL with six game-winning goals.

Defenseman Danny Groulx will also be suiting up for Team Canada. The 29-year-old veteran — the oldest player on the team — currently leads the AHL in shots with 119 and played a critical part in Worcester’s 6-5 win over Portland on Jan. 10, tying the game with 43 seconds remaining to send it into overtime.

Groulx is tied for third in the AHL among all defensemen with 21 assists, and he is tied for ninth in the league in points with 25. His toughness cannot be questioned, as he has played in 147 consecutive games.

Rookie goaltender Alex Stalock was a late addition to the PlanetUSA roster, but he has earned his keep with a 23-10 record this season. Stalock currently leads the AHL in wins and ranks first in minutes played with 1,841. His 2.44 goals-against average is good for 17th in the AHL. He also boasts a .908 save percentage and has notched one shutout this season.

The 2009-10 season is bound to be a good one for the Sharks and is already a milestone season for head coach Roy Sommer, who notched his 400th career win with a 4-1 victory over Springfield on Nov. 1. Sommer is just the fourth coach in AHL history to reach 400 wins. Currently in the midst of his 12th season at the helm of the Sharks, Sommer is the longest-tenured coach in the AHL and boasts an overall regular-season record of 417-390-54-58.

The Sharks are a young team — the average age on the roster is 23 — but that certainly hasn’t seemed to hurt the club this season. There are 13 rookies on the squad, five second-year players and two third-year players. Former Boston College star Nick Petrecki is the youngest member of the Shark at 20 years old and five months.

Since Nov. 20, the Sharks are 16-3-0-1 in their last 20 games,
snatching 33 of a possible 40 points, and hitting the road is no
problem for this squad, which boasts a 6-1-0-1 record in its last eight
road games. At the DCU Center, the Sharks are 10-2-0-0 in their last 12
games.

In addition, the Sharks boast the league’s best inter-divisional
record, with 21 wins against Atlantic Division opponents — and that
certainly bodes well with the second-half push approaching.

The Sharks ended the first half of the 2009-10 season on a high note with a sound 4-2 win over Bridgeport on Jan. 17. Since the day after Christmas, the Sharks have gone 10-2-0-1, landing them in second place in the Atlantic Division standings. They are just two points behind the division-leading Manchester Monarchs, and at 26-14-1, they are in prime position to make a strong push in the second half.

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