By Alex Sponseller
WORCESTER- The Worcester Sharks saw their highest attendance of the season during their recent victory over the Providence Bruins (3-2) at the DCU Center on Saturday, January 31st.
They hosted 7,000 fans at the game, which coincided with the team’s annual “Pink in the Rink” breast cancer awareness promotion. Both events occurred in the midst of breaking news that the Sharks will be relocated to San Jose at the end of this season.
The American Hockey League (AHL) is forming a new Pacific Division with 5 teams including the Sharks. The Sharks will finish the 2014-15 season in Worcester and seek their first playoff berth since 2010. Though the Sharks had a slow start, an eight-game winning streak in January bolstered them back to the playoff picture.
Some fans are disappointed to see their home team relocate, but others understand the business side of the move. Worcester State senior Nakul Patel believes the move will ultimately help the Sharks’ organization.
“It is unfortunate to see Worcester lose its hockey team, however it was something that had to be done. Making the move will definitely help the franchise expand its fanbase in San Jose,” said Patel.
Fans are also waiting to hear if there will be a team replacing the Sharks. Patel is one of the many that hopes to see hockey in Worcester in 2016.
Patel said, “Hopefully another team comes and starts its own culture in Worcester. Even though the Sharks have faded a bit recently, Worcester certainly deserves a team to watch.”
The primary motive for the move is geographic; the massive distance between the Worcester Sharks and their parent team in San Jose has made it difficult for the NHL team to adequately manage their AHL prospects.
The team will play at the SAP Center in San Jose, the same venue as the NHL club. This will make the San Jose Sharks the only NHL team to share the same venue as their AHL affiliate.
In their first home game since the news broke, the Sharks squared off against their inner-division rival, the Providence Bruins.
Tied midway through the second period 2-2, Worcester’s Ryan Carpenter scored the go ahead goal that gave the Sharks a 3-2 lead. The Sharks held onto the lead, barely beating the Bruins 3-2.
John McCarthy and Eriah Hayes scored the Sharks’ first 2 goals. Ryan Spooner scored both goals for the Bruins. The Sharks’ Aaron Dell made 26 saves while the Bruins’ Niklas Svedberg recorded 31 saves.
With the victory, Worcester maintained second place in the Atlantic division. They hope to end their stay in Worcester with a Calder Cup.