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09/25/2007 9:39 PM -

Home cooking

Local trying to hook on with Sharks



Marc Busenburg of Shrewsbury will never forget the last hockey game he played here, and not because it was one of the most exciting at the DCU Center in years.

Busenburg actually missed the first period of the Worcester Sharks’ 7-6 shootout victory over the Hershey Bears on March 16, but not because he overslept or missed the team bus. A late winter snowstorm was to blame.

The story, like Busenburg’s career, is long and almost as colorful.

When one of its defensemen was injured the previous night, Hershey recalled Busenburg from its ECHL affiliate in Charleston, S.C. He was on the first flight for Boston, but it was delayed more than an hour. Then, after waiting another 90 minutes for his luggage, the town car assigned to pick him up began the slow trip west.

Too slow, in fact, for Busenburg, who was told via cell phone that there would be equipment and a jersey waiting for him in the Bears’ locker room. So he called his former Shrewsbury High teammate Dave Samara, who, like the State Police and Red Sox catcher Doug Mirabelli, intercepted the town car on the Mass. Pike and brought him the rest of the way.

Busenburg was in uniform with four minutes left in the first period, but didn’t skate his first shift until after intermission. He almost scored on his first shot and finished with an assist. Worcester’s Mike Iggulden had the only goal of the shootout.

“It was pretty crazy,” said Busenburg, who returned to the DCU Center yesterday, this time as a member of the Sharks. And while Worcester hasn’t signed the 29-year-old, he’s hoping to earn a contract out of training camp, which officially got under way last night.

In addition to daily practices, the Sharks will host a Teal vs. White scrimmage here at noon Thursday — the game is free and open to the public — before traveling to Springfield for their first exhibition game on Friday. Worcester will play the Providence Bruins at 7 p.m. Saturday at the New England Sports Center in Marlboro.

Busenburg plans to use those opportunities to showcase his talent.

“This is where I want to play,” said the veteran of seven pro seasons. “This is my hometown. I have so many friends here and it would be nice to play in front of them.”

If Busenburg sticks with the Sharks, they would be his eighth team since graduating from the University of Connecticut in 2000. Before that, he helped Phil Irving’s Shrewsbury High team reach the Division 3 state championship in 1996.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound blue-liner has spent parts of five seasons in the AHL with Rochester, Springfield and Hershey. He has also played in the ECHL with Carolina, the UHL with Adirondack and the WCHL with San Diego. Two years ago, he played in Sweden.

Busenburg came close to signing with the Sharks last season, but he was told Worcester didn’t have room on its roster, which grew by five yesterday after San Jose demoted Taylor Dakers, Derek Joslin, Dennis Packard, Nate Raduns and Tom Walsh.

“I’ve always been interested in playing here,” Busenburg said. “It’s just never worked out before.”

If he doesn’t follow the likes of Jim and Ed Campbell and Brian Collins — locals who played pro hockey in their hometown — Busenburg will likely return to Carolina where he had five goals and 15 assists in 35 games last year. He’s accumulated 106 points (29 goals, 77 assists) in 414 pro games.

But going back to the ECHL is not part of Busenburg’s plan. Instead, he’d like to move out of his room at the Crowne Plaza hotel and in with his older brother Eric. They may buy and fix up their grandfather’s home off Route 140 in Shrewsbury.

“If I could live there and play here that would be the ultimate,” Busenburg said. “But we’ll have to wait and see what happens.”

Of course, he knows growing up a couple miles from the DCU Center won’t hurt his chances of making the team.

“If you look at the Boston pro sports teams,” Busenburg said. “They all have recognizable players. If I end up here, I’m sure people would root for me the same way. Worcester always seems to support the local guys.”

Busenburg figures he’s got a decent shot of making the team. And if he doesn’t it won’t be for the lack of effort. After all, he spent the summer on Cape Cod, working out daily with power skating guru Paul Vincent and a group of NHL players, including Worcester’s Tom Poti, at Gallo Arena in Bourne.

Come join the Stingrays for their 15th Anniversary Season! The 2007-08 season begins on Oct. 20 at 7:05 p.m. as the Rays take on in-state rival Columbia Inferno! Deposits are being taken now for the 2007-08 South Carolina Stingrays season tickets! For just $100 you can reserve your seat to every hard-hitting, action-packed game at the North Charleston Coliseum. For more information including benefits, pricing, and package options, please call the Stingrays front office at 744-2248 or view the information online at Stingrays Hockey – A Whole Lot Cooler!

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