The Worcester Railers were looking to end their Florida trip on an up note Saturday night at the Amway Center in Orlando against the Solar Bears after the two squads split the opening two games.

The Railers started off significantly better than the first two games, controlling the pace and having possession of the puck for long stretches of play. All that hard work paid off at 9:18 when Tommy Kelley and Matt Lane played pass and catch into the Solar Bears zone. Kelley ended up in the corner with puck, and T.J. Syner collected Kelley’s pass and fired it past Orlando goaltender Mackenzie Skapski for the 1-0 lead.

Just when it looked like Worcester would hit the first intermission with the lead Mike Monfredo beat Railers netminder Mitch Gillam with a backhander with 6.1 seconds remaining in the period. He then stood over Gillam, which drew the ire of Woody Hudson and his Worcester teammates. Monfredo also taunted the Railers bench as he skated by.

Yanick Turcotte went on the ice for the next face-off, but Orlando head coach Drake Berehowsky pulled Monfredo off the ice. The two were on the ice to start the next period, but Monfredo refused Turcotte’s multiple invitations to drop the gloves.

Both teams had decent opportunities in the middle period but the goaltenders ruled the middle twenty minutes as each made 11 saves in the period. Worcester had a great opportunity to grab an early lead in the third period with 3:30 of power play time to start the stanza when Martins Dzierkals received a double minor for slashing Jeff Kubiak late in the second period, but the Railers couldn’t generate any scoring chances with the man advantage.

Neither team would score in the third period to send the game to overtime. Once again the Railers would begin a period on the power play, but it was the same story as earlier as Worcester didn’t generate much offense skating four on three. Worcester ended the game going 0-7 with the man advantage.

Each team’s best chance in the extra period happened in the last handful of seconds when Gillam had to make a big save on an Orlando three on one rush, and right after the save Nick Saracino had a long breakaway bid spoiled by Skapski.

To the shootout the teams went, with Tommy Kelley getting the only goal for Worcester while Joshua Winquist and J.J. Piccinich each scored for the Solar Bears to give Orlando the 2-1 victory.

The Railers seven game road trip continues Wednesday in Adirondack.

RAILERS NOTES
Scratches for Worcester were Brian Bowen, Josh Monk (21-day IR/upper body), Eamon McAdam (suspended, game one of two), Vinny Muto, and Ashton Rome (21-day IR/upper body). Chris Habazin, was the back-up goaltender. Habazin, who is the emergency goaltender available to all ECHL teams playing in Orlando, was released at the end of the game.

The Railers were without leading scorer Barry Almeida for the overtime period and the shootout as he took a puck to the mouth late in the third period. Almeida quickly went off to the dressing room with trainer Rob Tagle, but apparently the damage was bad enough that he couldn’t get back on to the ice.

Earlier today the Maine Mariners, the expansion ECHL team located in Portland, Maine, announced that former WorSharks forward Riley Armstrong would be their franchise’s first head coach. Armstrong, who was the assistant coach for the Wheeling Nailers earlier this season, played 208 games for WorSharks over three seasons and was an “honorable mention” for Worcester’s fan voted 20th anniversary team.

The Railers are doing some finger crossing hoping that the snowstorm hitting southern New England overnight doesn’t impact their 7am Sunday morning flight from Orlando to T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island. At least three flights from Orlando to T.F. Green were canceled Saturday night, so that may put the Railers travel plans in jeopardy. A small delay won’t be a major issue as Worcester doesn’t play again until Wednesday night in Adirondack.

Upon further review…the games on Thursday and Friday against Orlando were the first time that a team had 40 or more shots on goal against a Worcester team since at least the 2006-07 season. The WorSharks never had it happen to them, and available online records for the IceCats are far from complete enough to determine if it ever happened to them.

Taking a look at some of the Railers roster players currently playing in Bridgeport, Kellen Jones has a goal and an assist in 12 games with the Sound Tigers, Patrick Cullity has two assists in 15 games in Bridgeport, and Mike Cornell has gone scoreless in nine games played.

For some other players likely not returning to Worcester this season, former Railers defenseman Patrick McNally has a goal and three assists in 11 games for Leksands IF in the Allsvenskan League in Sweden, Sean Gammage has a goal and six assists for Birmingham of the SPHL, and Willie Raskob has 28 points in 46 games with the ECHL’s Quad City Mallards.

The three stars of the game were
1) Mackenzie Skapski (Orlando #32), win, 32 saves
2) J.J. Piccinich (Orlando #14) shootout game winner
3) Mike Monfredo (Orlando #3) goal

The TWIW Player of the Game was Mitch Gillam.

BOX SCORE
Worcester 1 0 0 0 – 1
Orlando 1 0 0 0 – 2

1st Period-1, Worcester, Syner 4 (Kelley, Lane), 9:18. 2, Orlando, Monfredo 4 (Winquist, LeBlanc), 19:54. Penalties-Jardine Orl (delay of game), 0:24; Turcotte Wor (slashing), 3:15; Zimmerman Orl (tripping), 17:38.

2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Piccinich Orl (holding), 6:02; Hudson Wor (interference), 8:22; Phillips Orl (slashing), 13:11; Kubiak Wor (hooking), 13:17; Dzierkals Orl (high-sticking – double), 19:30.

3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Hudson Wor (helmet violation), 2:43; Crane Orl (hooking), 19:28.

OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties

Shootout – Worcester 1 (Lane NG, Kelley G, DiChiara NG, Saracino NG), Orlando 2 (Dzierkals NG, Winquist G, Novak NG, Piccinich G).
Shots on Goal-Worcester 10-11-7-5-0-33. Orlando 4-11-7-1-1-24.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 0 / 7; Orlando 0 / 4.
Goalies-Worcester, Gillam 9-10-0-1 (23 shots-22 saves). Orlando, Skapski 8-10-2-0 (33 shots-32 saves).
A-7,637
Referees-Tyler Puddifant (28).
Linesmen-Logan Bellgraph (52), Christopher Williams (62).

The Worcester Railers hoped to begin their second game of three in a row against the Orlando Solar Bears Friday night at the Amway Center with a little more intensity than their lackluster early play Thursday night, but once again they had a little trouble getting their wheels going right at the opening puck drop and netminder Mitch Gillam had to make a couple tough saves to keep his team even.

Luckily the Railers did get everything going the right way pretty quickly and were rewarded with the first goal of the game when Yanick Turcotte outworked the Solar Bear defense behind the Orlando goal line, stealing the puck and firing a centering feed to Tommy Kelley. The Natick, Massachusetts native fired a hard shot top shelf over Solar Bear goaltender Cal Heeter at 5:53 for the 1-0 lead.

The Railers would make it 2-0 with a goal on their first power play opportunity. Defenseman Ben Masella launched a rocket from the blue line that was tipped in front by Matt Lane at 8:58 of the first. Frankie DiChiara had the secondary assist on the goal. To the amusement of many, the Orlando public address announcer called him “Franklin”.

It was more of the same in the second period, and Worcester would make it a three goal lead at 6:11 when Masella once again fired a hard shot on net. Heeter made the initial save but Barry Almeida was there to tuck the puck home just inches over the goal line. Chris Langkow’s pass to Masella earned him an assist on the goal.

Worcester would make it 4-0 on an odd goal when Heeter left his goal to go after the puck and fell down. The puck eventually ended up on Kyle McKenzie’s stick and his shot into what was essentially an empty net at 7:58 chased Heeter from the game. Masella and T.J. Syner had the assists on the play.

Solar Bears alternate captain Sean Zimmerman decided to try to fire up his teammates by picking a fight, and after all ten players scrummed together Zimmerman pulled defenseman Connor Doherty out of the pack. That turned out to be a bad choice as the rookie Doherty pounded his veteran counterpart.

After that all that was left was to see if Gillam could record the shutout, but Max Novak spoiled the show with a goal at 11:04 of the third for what would eventually be the 4-1 final. For the second game in a row the Railers would allow a franchise high in shots on goal in being outshot by the Solar Bears 43-35.

The same two teams play again Saturday at 7pm.

RAILERS NOTES
Scratches for Worcester were Brian Bowen, Josh Monk (21-day IR/upper body), Eamon McAdam (suspended, game one of two), Vinny Muto, and Ashton Rome (21-day IR/upper body). Chris Habazin, who was signed as an EBUG early Friday when the ECHL suspended goaltender Eamon McAdam two games for an undisclosed incident after being replaced by Mitch Gillam during the second period on Thursday night, was the back-up goaltender.

McAdam’s game misconduct penalty Thursday was just the fourth time a Worcester pro goaltender was ejected from a game, and in an oddity occurred exactly ten years after the previous time it happened. In that case WorSharks goalie Thomas Greiss was ejected for fighting Norfolk netminder Jonathan Boutin on February 15, 2008. Jamie McLennan was the first Worcester pro goalie to earn a game misconduct, which happened during the second season of the IceCats in 1995-96. Another IceCats netminder, Brent Johnson, rounds out the list with a game misconduct during the 1999-2000 campaign. The ten penalty minutes McAdam received for his game misconduct launches him into ninth place in all-time goalie penalty minutes in Worcester pro hockey history.

Chris Saracino, older brother of Nick, returned to the team after being re-signed by the Railers earlier this week. The elder Saracino is a lawyer in St. Louis, and returned to Missouri after playing a couple of games for Worcester earlier this season. With the #37 he wore earlier currently being used by Tommy Kelley Saracino wore #15, the number Willie Raskob had for his one game with Worcester.

With the three game series in Florida we can add another state the Worcester pro hockey has played in. Earlier this season Colorado was added to the list when the Railers played the Eagles in Loveland, and then West Virginia when Worcester took on the Wheeling Nailers.

Friday night saw the first time that acting captain Chris Langkow and Jeff Kubiak were both held without a shot on goal. The two rank second and third in shots on goal for currently active Railers players, with Kubiak having 117 and Langkow at 101.

The three stars of the game were
1) Mitch Gillam (Railers #35), win, 42 saves
2) Ben Masella (Railers #3), 3 assists
3) Barry Almeida (Railers #19), goal

The TWIW Player of the Game was Kyle McKenzie.

BOX SCORE
Worcester 2 2 0 – 4
Orlando 0 0 1 – 1

1st Period-1, Worcester, Kelley 3 (Turcotte), 5:53. 2, Worcester, Lane 8 (Masella, DiChiara), 8:58 (PP). Penalties-Almeida Wor (holding), 3:15; Jardine Orl (high-sticking), 7:49; Thompson Orl (high-sticking), 10:19.

2nd Period-3, Worcester, Almeida 16 (Masella, Langkow), 6:11. 4, Worcester, McKenzie 3 (Masella, Syner), 7:58. Penalties-Doherty Wor (fighting – major), 8:52; Zimmerman Orl (fighting – major), 8:52; Pospisil Orl (tripping), 9:12; Saracino Wor (slashing), 15:02; McKenzie Wor (delay of game), 18:22.

3rd Period-5, Orlando, Novak 15 (Fejes, Dzierkals), 11:04. Penalties-Turcotte Wor (unsportsmanlike conduct), 6:11; Monfredo Orl (unsportsmanlike conduct), 6:11; Masella Wor (holding), 7:02; Monfredo Orl (holding), 13:54; Masella Wor (double – roughing), 19:26; Rankin Orl (double – roughing), 19:26.

Shots on Goal-Worcester 12-11-12-35. Orlando 11-16-16-43.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 1 / 4; Orlando 0 / 4.
Goalies-Worcester, Gillam 9-10-0-0 (43 shots-42 saves). Orlando, Heeter 13-13-3-1 (17 shots-13 saves); Skapski 7-10-2-0 (18 shots-18 saves).
A-4,393
Referees-Tyler Puddifant (28).
Linesmen-Logan Bellgraph (52), Christopher Williams (62).

WORCESTER – The Worcester Railers began the last weekend of their 11 game home stand with a tilt against the South Carolina Stingrays, the second best team in the ECHL’s Eastern Conference. Slow starts have plagued Worcester all season, and it was the case again in the first period as the Stingrays controlled huge portions of the opening stanza.

South Carolina opened the scoring when a couple bounces went their way at 1:51. Defenseman Frankie Simonelli fired the puck on net from the left point, and it hit Tim McGauley and deflected wide. Unfortunately the puck bounced off the end boards and right on the stick of Steven Whitney, who flipped one over Railers netminder Mitch Gillam and in.

The Stingrays made it 2-0 when the Worcester defense collapsed too deep, and Joe Devin’s slap pass went right to Taylor Cammarata. His nearly uncontested shot at 11:54 beat Gillam low. Meanwhile in the South Carolina end goaltender Parker Milner had an easy period, and had no issue turning aside the four shots Worcester had.

It was more of the same in the second period with Worcester back on their heels and South Carolina continuing to carry the play. The visitors would take a 3-0 lead at 2:57 when Hampus Gustafsson, McGauley, and Simonelli played tic-tac-toe with passes, ending up with Simonelli beating Gillam high stick side to light the lamp.

The Railers offense did pick it up a bit in the middle period, but Milner turned aside everything he saw to keep Worcester off the board through 40 minutes.

Dylan Margonari made it 4-0 Stingrays at 2:44 of the third with an absolute bullet from the right point through traffic that Gillam had no chance on.

Worcester would avoid the bagel at 6:10 when Tommy Kelley wheeled the South Carolina net and banged at the puck a couple times trying to jam it past Milner. The loose puck would find its way to Jeff Kubiak’s stick and then past Milner for what would be the eventual 4-1 final.

The Railers play the final game of their long home stand Saturday night against the Brampton Beast.

RAILERS NOTES
Scratches for Worcester were Matt Lane, Josh Monk (21-day IR/Upper body), Vinny Muto, and Ashton Rome (21-day IR/Upper body). Eamon McAdam was the backup goaltender. On Thursday forward Matty Gaudreau was recalled to the Sound Tigers to take the place of Mitchell Vande Sompel, who was injured in Bridgeport’s Tuesday morning loss to Hartford. Gaudreau joins fellow Railers teammates Kellen Jones and Mike Cornell, who have been on the Sound Tigers roster for several weeks now.

Like Wednesday’s game, Friday night’s tilt was played on pink-tinted ice as the Railers prepare for Saturday night’s “Pink in the Rink” game. The Railers will wear pink specialty jerseys and proceeds from the sales of tickets, pink pucks, and pink t-shirts will benefit the Cup Crusaders, a local group of walkers participating in the Susan G. Komen for the Cure 3-day breast cancer walk.

Not only did Wednesday’s ice storm wreak havoc in the northeast, it also caused South Carolina’s flight to Boston to be canceled. The Stingrays had hoped to arrive in New England Wednesday but didn’t arrive until Friday morning. The travel delay obviously didn’t impact their play any.

And while we’re on the subject of travel, this writer occasionally mentions “mad dashes” that teams sometimes need to make to get from one game location to the next. Saturday night’s opponent, the Brampton Beast, have the grand daddy of all mad dashes to get to their game against the Railers as they were home against Kalamazoo Friday night. According to Google Maps, it’s over eight hours by bus from Brampton to Worcester.

The one chance this season for the Railers to take on a former Worcester IceCats player passed by when Trevor Gillies did not make the Stingray’s trip to New England. Gillies, who played six playoff games for Worcester in 2001, is the final IceCats player playing in North America in an NHL affiliated league. Gillies has been on South Carolina’s reserve list since February 2nd after suffering an undisclosed injury.

Upon further review…Wednesday night’s overtime win over Reading continued a couple of odd trends. First, entering Friday’s game the last three goals Worcester has scored with an extra attacker have all been against the Royals. Second, Barry Almeida is the only Railers player to be on the ice for both of the franchise’s overtime goals.

Wednesday’s game against Reading also had a little side intrigue as Railers broadcaster Eric Lindquist and Royals play by play man David Fine had a wager on the outcome of the game. Because Worcester won Lindquist will get to perform the Canadian national anthem in Reading when the teams next meet. Had the Royals won Fine would have made an appearance with Tom Matthews on a “Two Things With Tom” episode.

The three stars of the game were:
1) Frankie Simonelli (South Carolina #27), goal, 2 assists
2) Tim McGauley (South Carolina #18) 2 assists
3) Jeff Kubiak (Railers #16), goal

The TWIW Player of the Game was Connor Doherty

Even strength lines
Saracino / Langkow / Almeida
DiChiara / Kubiak / Hudson
Kelley (Turcotte) / Syner/ Bowen

Doherty / Hamonic
McKenzie / Beukeboom
Masella / Calabrese

Box Score
South Carolina 2 1 1 – 4
Worcester 0 0 1 – 1

1st Period-1, South Carolina, Whitney 15 (McGauley, Simonelli), 1:51. 2, South Carolina, Cammarata 9 (Devin), 11:54. Penalties-Calabrese Wor (holding), 5:26; Whitney Sc (hooking), 6:33; Gaul Sc (slashing), 12:53.

2nd Period-3, South Carolina, Simonelli 8 (McGauley, Gustafsson), 2:57. Penalties-served by Salhany Sc (bench – too many men), 8:23; McKenzie Wor (holding), 8:23; Hamonic Wor (holding), 16:42; Hughes Sc (boarding), 18:25.

3rd Period-4, South Carolina, Margonari 11 (Simonelli, Federico), 2:44. 5, Worcester, Kubiak 8 (Kelley, Doherty), 6:10. Penalties-Roberto Sc (interference), 11:16; Kubiak Wor (slashing), 19:11.

Shots on Goal-South Carolina 9-9-10-28. Worcester 4-11-7-22.
Power Play Opportunities-South Carolina 0 / 3; Worcester 0 / 4.
Goalies-South Carolina, Milner 15-4-2-0 (22 shots-21 saves). Worcester, Gillam 8-10-0-0 (28 shots-24 saves).
A-3,794
Referees-Jesse Gour (24).
Linesmen-Kyle Richtelle (73), Chris Provost (50).

The Worcester Railers were looking to continue the momentum of last Sunday’s big win over Florida in their Friday night contest against the Adirondack Thunder at the DCU Center, and early on things were looking good for the Railers.

Despite the first period being a tad bit less exciting than Sunday’s game against the Everblades the Railers controlled play for huge stretches of the period Friday even though they didn’t have a lot to show for it. In many games like that this season an unlucky bounce would put Worcester behind, but for once it was a bounce in their favor that got them on the board.

In what was kind of a harmless looking play Yanick Turcotte fired a shot that went well wide of the Adirondack net. Matt Lane was the closest to the puck, and as it caromed off the end boards Lane flipped the puck toward the net from an odd angle. The puck knuckled toward Thunder goaltender Tomas Sholl, who was unable to play it cleanly as the puck bounced off him and into the net at 18:50. Woody Hudson had the secondary assist on the goal.

Jeff Kubiak would make it 2-0 Railers at 9:36 of the second period when he banged home a rebound of a Ben Masella shot on the power play. With Hudson setting a screen Masella fired one in on Sholl, and the rebound went right to the stick of Kubiak. Lane was given the second assist on the play, but there’s a small chance that will be changed to Hudson as it appeared that he may have touched the puck after Masella’s shot.

Unfortunately for the Railers the wheels fell off in the third period. Desmond Bergin would cut the Railers lead in half at 5:31 when Worcester got caught running around in their own end chasing the puck. Andrew Radjenovic would tie the game 2-2 at 15:08 with a laser from the blue line that beat Worcester goaltender Eamon McAdam clean after the Railers defense failed on three separate occasions to clear the puck.

Worcester was able to get the game to overtime to earn a point, but their post-regulation woes continued when just seconds after Nick Saracino was denied by Sholl Colton White gathered a long feed and fired a low shot that fooled McAdam at 1:35 to give the Thunder the 3-2 win.

The Railers 11 game home stand continues Saturday night with a game against Brampton at 7pm.

RAILERS NOTES
Scratches for Worcester were Tommy Kelley, Josh Monk (21-day IR/Upper body), Aston Rome (upper body), and TJ Syner. Word from the Railers is Monk is working out with the team, wearing the red “no contact” jersey. There was no time table indicated on a potential return for him or Rome.

Earlier Friday morning goaltender Mitch Gillam was signed to a PTO by the Utica Comets, so the Railers re-signed netminder Joe Spagnoli to an EBUG contract. He was the back-up goaltender. This week defenseman Sean Gammage was released from the roster and returned to Birmingham of the SPHL.

Worcester wasn’t the only one affected by recalls as the Thunder lost two of the best forwards, Shane Conacher and Ty Loney, to recalls by the Syracuse Crunch. Adirondack did get a player down from the AHL when the New Jersey Devils assigned defenseman Colton White from Binghamton to the Thunder.

ECHL teams have to deal with lots of player movement, but in a bit of an oddity Friday night saw the fifth different goaltender the Railers have faced in their eight games against Adirondack. In addition to Friday’s netminder Tomas Sholl Worcester has also faced Nick Riopel, Drew Fielding, Mackenzie Blackwood, and Chris Nell in Thunder jerseys. The two teams play four more times this season, so the number of different goalies could get even higher.

Woody Hudson picked up just his second assists of the season Friday night, giving him an odd line of 15-2-17 so far in 2017-18. The Railers do very well when Hudson scores a goal, going 8-4-1 in those games, but they’re just 0-1-1 in games he records an assist. Hudson has just one game where he recorded a goal and an assist, a 5-3 loss to Jacksonville on January 19th.

Upon further review…many are calling last Sunday’s 3-2 win over Florida by the Railers the best game the team has played all season. Worcester Railers Booster Club President Rich Lundin noted to many fans post game that you could tell from the opening puck drop that the Railers were determined to throw everything they had against the high flying Everblades, and the victory could be the precursor of good things to come for the team. Time will tell, but when fans are still talking positively about a January regular season game days later that usually means good things. Unfortunately, not so much for Friday night.

The three stars of the game were
1) Colton White (Adirondack #8) OT game winner
2) Matt Lane (Railers #10) goal, assist
3) Andrew Radjenovic (Adirondack #27) goal

The TWIW Player of the Game was Jeff Kubiak.

Even Strength Lines
Gaudreau / Langkow / Almeida
Saracino / Kubiak / Bowen
DiChiara / Lane / Hudson
Turcotte

McKenzie / Beukeboom
Doherty / Hamonic
Muto / Masella

BOX SCORE
Adirondack 0 0 2 1 – 3
Worcester 1 1 0 0 – 2

1st Period-1, Worcester, Lane 6 (Turcotte, Hudson), 18:20. Penalties-served by Neugold Adk (bench – too many men), 2:59; Thompson Adk (tripping), 6:42; Muto Wor (slashing), 7:17.

2nd Period-2, Worcester, Kubiak 6 (Masella, Lane), 9:36 (PP). Penalties-Kubiak Wor (tripping), 0:59; Bergin Adk (tripping), 7:41; Gaudreau Wor (interference), 16:30; Brodeur Adk (tripping), 17:12.

3rd Period-3, Adirondack, Bergin 10 (Harrison), 5:31. 4, Adirondack, Radjenovic 6 (Thompson), 15:08. Penalties-Harrison Adk (hooking), 9:53.

OT Period-5, Adirondack, White 2 (Brodeur, Wallin), 1:35. Penalties-No Penalties

Shots on Goal-Adirondack 7-11-13-1-32. Worcester 10-17-10-1-38.
Power Play Opportunities-Adirondack 0 / 3; Worcester 1 / 5.
Goalies-Adirondack, Sholl 1-0-0-0 (38 shots-36 saves). Worcester, McAdam 10-9-4-2 (32 shots-29 saves).
A-3,512
Referees-Jonathan Sitarski (23).
Linesmen-Kyle Richtelle (73), Dan Panciocco (59).

The Worcester Railers hosted the ECHL’s South Division leading Florida Everblades Sunday afternoon at the DCU Center, and the 4,754 in attendance knew it was going to be a much tougher test than the lowly Quad City Mallards had been in Worcester’s two previous games.

The opening period saw huge stretches of play without a whistle, and the Railers were skating stride for stride with the powerful Everblades through most of it. Worcester had the two best chances early, both by Chris Langkow.

Unfortunately he couldn’t bury either of them, once missing a yawning empty net by hitting the crossbar and then just shooting inches wide from the slot on a rebound attempt.

As has been the case this season a borderline penalty came back to haunt the Railers, and with Ben Masella off for hooking Florida needed just 12 seconds of power play time to take the lead when defenseman Matt MacKenzie ripped a laser from the blue line and past Worcester goaltender Mitch Gillam at 16:13 of the first to make it 1-0. Clark Seymore and Steven Lorentz had the assists for the Everblades.

The second stanza was a lot like the first, with long periods of continuous play without a whistle. The advantage in play swung back and forth, and on one of those occasions where Worcester was in control the Railers tied the game.

Worcester held the puck along the perimeter of the Everblades zone for a long while, with Florida goaltender Callum Booth making saves on the handful of attempts on goal. Frankie DiChiara would finally beat Booth when he fired a loose puck from the left wing boards through a screen and in at 8:59. Vinny Muto and Jeff Kubiak had the assists.

A great defensive play a few moments later by Nick Saracino helped keep the game tied as each side continued the end to end play, but another Achilles heel of the Railers would rear its head when on the power play forward Matty Gaudreau had to defend a two on one rush. As Florida’s Justin Kea and John McCarron broke in shorthanded Kea waited for Gaudreau to commit to who he would defend, and when it was the puck carrier Kea calmly slid the puck over to McCarron for the 2-1 Everblades lead at 15:43.

On paper things didn’t look very good for the Railers entering the third period as Florida was an amazing 17-0-1 when leading after two and the Railers had won just once in 17 tries when trailing after 40 minutes. But hockey isn’t played on paper, it’s played on ice. And on this day Worcester would not be denied.

The Railers continued to generate good chances, and on a break in that looked like the Everblades had defended well Langkow was able to get the puck back to Muto streaking into the zone. Langkow’s pass was right on the tape of Muto’s stick, and the defenseman wasted no time in firing one past Booth on the stick side to tie it at 3:34. Barry Almeida had the secondary assist on Muto’s first ever ECHL goal.

The cheering for Muto’s goal was some of the loudest this season, but Jeff Kubiak got the crowd even louder when he collected a Muto clearing bid and raced down the left wing side. From the left circle he fired a bullet over Booth’s glove at 6:12 to give Worcester a 3-2 lead. Gilliam had the secondary assist, his second of the season.

Florida had many chances to tie the game, including a power play mid-way through the period, but the Railers defense stood tall throughout the rest of the game. Gillam made several big saves in the final few minutes, but the biggest save of the game might go uncredited as an unidentified Railers player batted the puck out of midair with under 10 seconds to go to help seal the 3-2 victory.
Worcester’s 11 game home stand continues next Friday with a contest against the Adirondack Thunder.

RAILERS NOTES
Scratches for the Railers were Brain Bowen, Sean Gammage, Tommy Kelley, Josh Monk (21-day IR/upper body), Aston Rome (upper body). Eamon McAdam was the back-up goaltender. Bowen was a scratch because the Railers didn’t want him playing three games in three days yet.

As the AHL began in their all-star break after Saturday’s games there was some whispers of Kellen Jones and/or Mike Cornell returning to Worcester for Sunday’s game, but with the Railers at the maximum 20 active players and two on reserve the only way to add a player would be to cut one or add a player to the 21-day IR list. Neither option would work well for Worcester, so neither player was sent down.

With the game against Florida, the Railers have now played each of the ECHL’s current division leaders: Manchester in the North, the Everblades in the South, Toledo in the Central, and Colorado in the Mountain. Worcester is currently the only team to play every division leader. Presuming the leaders stay the same until February 25th the Greenville Swamp Rabbits will also accomplish the feat when they visit the Toledo Walleye.

Sunday marked the return of former Worcester Sharks defenseman Gus Young to the DCU Center. Young is the scoring leader among defenseman for Florida, entering the game against the Railers with four goals and 24 assists. Young has also spent five games with the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda. Young is not the only connection between Worcester and the Everblades as defenseman Vinny Muto played two games for Florida before being released and signed by the Railers.
Eagle-eyed reader Stan Hosmer noticed that yesterday’s post was missing a mention of Derek Armstrong in the common names section for the Mallards and Worcester pro hockey. Armstrong played 56 games for the IceCats during the 1995-96 season, scoring 26 points on 11 goals and 15 assists.

With 3:05 remaining in the first period the Daktronics video board froze and stopped keeping time. The scoreboards at the ends of the seating area were working fine so there was no interruption in play. It took until early in the second period for the issue to be fixed.

The three stars of the game were
1) Vinny Muto (Railers #42), goal, 2 assists
2) Jeff Kubiak (Railers #16), goal, assist
3) Mitch Gillam (Railers #35) win, 28 saves.

The TWIW Player of the Game was Frankie DiChiara

Even Strength Lines
Gaudreau/Langkow/Almeida
Saracino/Kubiak/Syner
DiChiara/Lane/Hudson
Turcotte
Doherty/Hamonic
Beukeboom/McKenzie
Muto/Masella

BOX SCORE
Florida 1 1 0 – 2
Worcester 0 1 2 – 3
1st Period-1, Florida, Mackenzie 4 (Seymour, Lorentz), 16:13 (PP). Penalties-MacAulay Fla (cross-checking), 12:25; Masella Wor (hooking), 16:01.
2nd Period-2, Worcester, DiChiara 5 (Muto, Kubiak), 8:59. 3, Florida, McCarron 14 (Kea), 15:43 (SH). Penalties-Mackenzie Fla (high-sticking), 14:43.
3rd Period-4, Worcester, Muto 1 (Langkow, Almeida), 3:34. 5, Worcester, Kubiak 5 (Muto, Gillam), 6:12. Penalties-Kubiak Wor (high-sticking), 9:27.
Shots on Goal-Florida 11-12-7-30. Worcester 10-13-8-31.
Power Play Opportunities-Florida 1 / 2; Worcester 0 / 2.
Goalies-Florida, Booth 13-5-1-2 (31 shots-28 saves). Worcester, Gillam 8-9-0-0 (30 shots-28 saves).
A-4,754
Referees-Sean Fernandez (21).
Linesmen-Kyle Richtelle (73), William Kingdon (58).

The Worcester Railers opened their second of back to back games against the Quad City Mallards Saturday night at the DCU Center exactly as they ended their Friday night tilt, controlling the play from the opening whistle of the first period. Unlike Friday night Mallards goaltender Ivan Kublakov was making the big saves on the Railers high quality bids.

Worcester finally got one past him with a power play goal by Matty Gaudreau. With Mallards forward Triston King in the penalty box for interference Kublakov made a diving save on a Chris Langkow bid. As the play continued Brock Beukeboom passed the puck along the blue line to Gaudreau, who skated to the left wing circle and beat Kublakov far side at 16:39. Barry Almeida had the secondary assist.

Just when it looked like the Railers would have the lead after 20 minutes Quad City tied it with 19.8 seconds remaining in the period when a loose puck slowly rolled over the goal line just out of reach of Worcester netminder Eamon McAdam. Grant was given credit for the goal.

The Railers didn’t let that hiccup get to them, and while the play was more even in the middle stanza it was Worcester that scored twice to take a two goal lead.

The first one the period came at 6:21 when Langkow threw a slow pass diagonally from deep in the left wing corner to the right point. Beukeboom, who had skated away from the point anticipating a Mallards breakout, returned to the offensive zone to retrieve the puck and fired a slow slap pass to Nick Saracino in the slot. He deflected it past Kublakov for the 2-1 lead.

As the period was winding down Worcester made it 3-1 when Beukeboom fired a shot through a screen and after a deflection off a Quad City defenseman rolled into the net at 18:58. Gaudreau and Almeida had the assists on the goal.

It was more of the same in the third period as the Railers continued to press their advantage, and their hard work paid off with a fourth goal when Gaudreau stole a clearing attempt right off the stick of a Quad City defender. Gaudreau found Langkow right in front, and Langkow stick handled around Kublakov and pushed it in at 3:48.

The Mallards would get one back to make it 4-2 when Willie Raskob blasted a shot from the point that pinballed around, eventually hitting teammate Brayden Low and somehow finding its way past McAdam at 11:15.

Matt Lane would kill any thoughts of a miracle comeback for Quad City with a highlight spin-o-rama style goal at 12:01 for the eventual 5-2 margin of victory. Saracino had the only assist on the play. It got very chippy after that, but when Grant got a double minor putting the Railers on the power play for the game calmer heads prevailed.

The Railers continue their 11 game home stand Sunday at 3pm against the Florida Everblades.

RAILERS NOTES
Worcester went with the same line-up as Friday, with the scratches being Sean Gammage, Tommy Kelley, Josh Monk (21-day IR/upper body), Aston Rome (upper body), and T.J. Syner. Mitch Gillam was the back-up goaltender. Rome has been out of action since January 10th, the date he could be retroactively added to the injured reserve list, although his injury dates well before that point.

While the Railers are generally quiet about specific injuries it’s not exactly a national secret that Rome has a jaw injury from a high stick. Monk’s injury, however, is continually referred to as “upper body” by the team. Neither Rome nor Monk appear close to returning to action.

The Mallards hit the ice after the Railers introductions to “Disco Duck” by Rick Dees. Most of the younger crowd didn’t get the joke. It’s not the first time the game-day DJ has used a song introduction to poke fun at an opponent. In the Sharks era Matt Jacobs was known to pick songs that contained a dig at the opposing team, most famously playing “Magic Bus” when Bridgeport was in town after a postponed game against the WorSharks due to a Sound Tigers travel issue.

Upon further review…during Friday night offensive barrage Worcester streak without leading in a game was ended at 344:45 when Matt Gaudreau scored at 16:39 of the opening period. Gaudreau’s second goal of the game at 3:14 of the middle period set the Railers franchise mark for fastest two goals by a single player at 6:25. The Railers also set a team mark, such as it is, for fastest five goals in a game at 34:56.

While Quad City has two former Worcester players on their roster, Kyle Bigos and Willie Raskob, a look at the last names of a few of their players reads like a Who’s Who of Worcester hockey history. The Mallards have a Low (Brayden) while the IceCats had Reed Low, who sits fifth all-time in Worcester penalty minutes (577); a Nagy (Gergo) while Worcester had Ladislav Nagy, who played parts of three seasons for the IceCats and will represents Slovakia in this years Winter Olympics; and an Armstrong (Travis), while the WorSharks had Riley Armstrong, who was an “Honorable Mention” in a fan vote for the 20th Anniversary All-Time team for Worcester and sits on many Worcester hockey statistical leader boards.

There are also a few others with each having a Grant (Triston for Quad City, Tommy for the Sharks), a King (Tristan for the Mallards, D.J. For the IceCats), and Tardif (Jamie for Quad City, and Marc and Patrice for the IceCats.). The Mallards also had Josh MacDonald earlier this season, and the WorSharks had David MacDonald on an ATO in 2008. Both also had a Sakellaropoulos, but perhaps not so shockingly it was the same player, Alex.
The big talk on press row after the second period was how any team could trade away Brock Beukeboom. And yet, that’s exactly what Greenville did in their trade with Worcester when Curt Gogol failed his exit physical with the Swamp Rabbits. There’s little doubt that AHL teams, and maybe some NHL teams, are going to notice him shortly. Beukeboom was a third round pick (63rd overall) of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2010, but was never signed to a contract.

The three stars of the game were
1) Brock Beukeboom (Railers #41), goal, 2 assists
2) Matty Gaudreau (Railers #8), goal, 2 assists
3) Nick Saracino (Railers #18) goal, assist
The TWIW Player of the Game was Eamon McAdam.

Even Strength Lines
Gaudreau/Langkow/Almeida
Saracino/Kubiak/Bowen
DiChiara/Lane/Hudson
Turcotte
McKenzie/Beukeboom
Doherty/Hamonic
Masella/Muto

BOX SCORE
Quad City 1 0 1 – 2
Worcester 1 2 2 – 5
1st Period-1, Worcester, Gaudreau 8 (Beukeboom, Almeida), 17:56 (PP). 2, Quad City, Grant 5 (Pohlkamp, Globke), 19:40. Penalties-Bolton Qc (fighting – major), 0:34; Doherty Wor (fighting – major), 0:34; Turcotte Wor (boarding), 6:59; Grant Qc (interference), 16:33.
2nd Period-3, Worcester, Saracino 4 (Beukeboom, Langkow), 6:21. 4, Worcester, Beukeboom 1 (Gaudreau, Almeida), 18:58 (PP). Penalties-Kubiak Wor (delay of game), 1:20; Globke Qc (interference), 18:04.
3rd Period-5, Worcester, Langkow 10 (Gaudreau), 3:48. 6, Quad City, Low 8 (Raskob, Follmer), 11:15 (PP). 7, Worcester, Lane 5 (Saracino), 12:01. Penalties-Armstrong Qc (fighting – major), 4:08; Turcotte Wor (fighting – major), 4:08; Masella Wor (slashing), 7:46; Hamonic Wor (cross-checking), 9:44; Grant Qc (double – roughing, misconduct), 16:04.
Shots on Goal-Quad City 8-11-9-28. Worcester 12-11-13-36.
Power Play Opportunities-Quad City 1 / 4; Worcester 2 / 4.
Goalies-Quad City, Kulbakov 8-8-0-0 (36 shots-31 saves). Worcester, McAdam 10-9-3-2 (28 shots-26 saves).
A-4,439
Referees-Sean Fernandez (21).
Linesmen-William Kingdon (58), Nathan Frechette (30).

With the taste of Friday night’s defeat to Jacksonville still fresh on the tongues of the Worcester Railers the fans in attendance Saturday at the DCU Center were expecting Worcester to come out flying in their first of two games in a row against the Wheeling Nailers.

But just like Friday night it was the opponent who would strike first when when J.C. Campagna fired a pass from deep in the right wing circle to Riley Bourbonnais high in the slot. Bourbonnais flipped the puck high stick side on Railers goaltender Alex Sakellaropoulos and under the crossbar at 1:52 of the first period.

On his next shift after scoring Bourbonnais accidentally high-sticked Matt Lane, drawing blood and earning himself a double minor penalty. While the Railers didn’t show much offense during the first two minutes they applied decent pressure in the back half, and were rewarded when Nick Saracino’s shot was blocked in front and deflected right to the stick of Matt Gaudreau. Wheeling netminder Adam Morrison couldn’t react in time and Gaudreau buried the puck into the yawning net at 5:40. Brock Beukeboom had the secondary assist on the play.

The Nailers retook the lead at 16:06 while Barry Almeida sat in the penalty box for roughing after referee Alex Normandin had let several penalties go. Kevin Schulze fed Jeff Taylor for a one timer, and Taylor’s shot found the iron and banked in for a 2-1 Wheeling lead.

The Nailers would make it 3-1 with the only goal of the second period when Reid Gardiner tipped a Dylan Zink shot and the puck slowly rolled past Sakellaropoulos and just over the goal line. Gardiner would strike again 52 seconds into the third period when he blasted a one-timer off the far post and in.

Worcester would give the 5,611 fans in attendance some hope of a comeback when Brian Bowen collected his first professional goal at 4:44 when he blasted a one-timer off a nice pass by Tommy Kelley. Frankie DiChiara picked up the second assist on the goal.

Unfortunately that was as close as the Railers would get as Gardiner picked up the hat trick with an empty net goal at 18:17 for the 5-2 fail score.

These same two teams meet again Sunday at 3:05 at the DCU Center.

RAILERS NOTES

Scratches for the Railers were Sean Gammage, Josh Monk (21-day IR/upper body), and Ashton Rome (upper body). Mitch Gillam was the back-up goaltender.

It was a homecoming of sorts for Wheeling assistant coach Riley Armstrong, who played three seasons with the WorSharks from 2006 through 2009. His 59 goals ranks tied for ninth in Worcester hockey history, and his 112 points ranks 19th all-time in Worcester. He also cracked the top-25 in penalty minutes with an even 300. Armstrong also ranks in the top five in many playoff categories, and was an “Honorable Mention” in a fan vote for the 20th Anniversary All-Time team for Worcester. During the first media timeout the Railers showed the Armstrong video the WorSharks used to show at their games.

The Railers have gone 264 minutes and 22 seconds without playing with the lead. The last time Worcester took a lead was January 10th against the Reading Royals when Barry Almeida scored at 7:02 of the second period. Reading would tie it at 15:38 of that period, and from that point on the Railers have played either tied or from behind. Worcester does have an overtime game winner in that stretch, but at no point in that game against Manchester did they play from ahead.

A quick look at the Railers players currently in the AHL. Through Friday’s games Patrick Cullity has three assists in eight games with Bridgeport since his conditioning stint in Worcester. Both Kellen Jones and Jeff Kubiak didn’t register a point in their game with the Sound Tigers, and Mike Cornell has been a healthy scratch every game since his second recall last Sunday. Eamon McAdam was a scratch for Bridgeport on Saturday. Chris Langkow, on a PTO with Hartford, did not have a point Friday night with the team.

With the NHL not allowing its player to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics many former Worcester pros are getting opportunities with their national teams to play for the gold in PyeongChang, South Korea in February. The latest addition to the list of former IceCats forward Ladislav Nagy, who will skate for Slovakia. He joins former WorSharks Karl Stollery (Canada) and John McCarthy (USA) as those making the trip to Asia. Konrad Abeltshauser is a finalist for the German national team that will be announced in a few days.

The three stars of the game were

1) Reid Gardiner (Wheeling #24), hat trick

2) Riley Bourbonnais (Wheeling #14), goal

3) Brian Bowen (Railers #11), goal

The TWIW Player of the Game was Matt Gaudreau.

Even Strength Lines

Gaudreau/Lane/Almeida

Saracino/Syner/Hudson

Bowen/DiChiara/Kelley

Turcotte

McKenzie/Beukeboom

Doherty/Hamonic

Muto/Masella

BOX SCORE

Wheeling 2 1 2 – 5

Worcester 1 0 1 – 2

1st Period-1, Wheeling, Bourbonnais 13 (Campagna, Turner), 1:52. 2, Worcester, Gaudreau 5 (Saracino, Beukeboom), 5:40 (PP). 3, Wheeling, Taylor 3 (Schulze, Tiffels), 16:06 (PP). Penalties-Bourbonnais Whl (high-sticking – double), 2:54; Masella Wor (holding), 9:20; Almeida Wor (roughing), 14:47.

2nd Period-4, Wheeling, Gardiner 18 (Zink, Schulze), 4:59. Penalties-Josephs Whl (hooking), 1:01; Beirnes Whl (fighting – major), 16:03; Turcotte Wor (fighting – major), 16:03.

3rd Period-5, Wheeling, Gardiner 19 (Wydo), 0:52. 6, Worcester, Bowen 1 (Kelley, DiChiara), 4:44. 7, Wheeling, Gardiner 20 (Wydo), 18:17 (EN). Penalties-No Penalties

Shots on Goal-Wheeling 12-9-12-33. Worcester 10-7-13-30.

Power Play Opportunities-Wheeling 1 / 2; Worcester 1 / 3.

Goalies-Wheeling, Morrison 6-7-0-0 (30 shots-28 saves). Worcester, Sakellaropoulos 0-1-0-0 (32 shots-28 saves).

A-5,611

Referees-Alex Normandin (26).

Linesmen-Kyle Richtelle (73), Brent Colby (38).

The Worcester Railers began an 11 game home stand Friday night at the DCU Center against the Jacksonville Icemen, and with their opponent languishing at the bottom of the standings it looked like a great opportunity for the Railers to kick off the home stand on the right foot.

Unfortunately for Worcester the Icemen had other ideas as Jacksonville jumped out to an early lead. The play began with the Railers on a four on two rush, but the Icemen broke up the play and headed into the Worcester end. Eventually Kyle Shapiro hit Josh Erickson with a pass to the top of the crease where Erickson blasted it past Railers goaltender Mitch Gillam at 5:06.

Worcester would answer at 13:47 when Matt Gaudreau flipped a shot on net that was deflected by Woody Hudson. Brock Beukebeem had the secondary assist. It was the Railers first power play goal in their last 22 attempts. It was also their first power play goal this calendar year.

Jacksonville would regain their lead at 15:30 on the power play when Yanick Turcotte’s clearing attempt was blocked by defenseman Scott Savage at the blue line. Gillam made the save on Savage’s shot but the rebound went right to Everett Clark for the score at 15:30.
Once again Worcester would answer when Hudson outwaited Icemen defender Christopher Dienes on an odd man rush and threw a nice pass to Barry Almeida at the top of the crease for the one-timer goal 59 seconds into the second period to make it 2-2. It was Hudson’s first assist on the season.

And again Jacksonville would regain the lead on a breakaway goal by Tanner Eberle at 3:50. Eberle was so far behind the play that when the Railers rush toward the Jacksonville zone stalled Tyson Fawcett had no issue flipping the puck down ice for Eberle to gather behind the Worcester defense.

The Railers would make it 3-3 at 5:35 on an odd man rush. Iceman goaltender Austin Lotz made the save on Barry Almeida’s bid, but the rebound went right on the tape of Matt Lane who buried to knot the score 3-3. Nick Saracino had the secondary assist on the goal.
The Icemen took the lead yet again on what looked like a nothing play, but Gillam misplayed an easy shot by Elgin Pierce at 10:04. Jacksonville made it 5-3 on a tough luck goal when Shapiro’s shot went high over the net, only to rebound off the glass and hit Gillam in the back, with the puck rolling over the goal line at 18:38.

Newcomer Alex Sakellaropoulos took over in net for Gillam in the third period, but the Railers couldn’t muster any offense in the last 20 minutes, losing 5-3 to the 25th ranked team in the ECHL.

RAILERS NOTES

Scratches for the Railers were Connor Doherty, Josh Monk (21-day IR/upper body), and Ashton Rome (upper body). Newly signed Alex Sakellaropoulos was the back-up goaltender to begin the game, playing the final 20 minutes in relief of starter Mitch Gillam.
There has been a lot of transactions for Worcester since last Saturday’s loss to Manchester. It started on Sunday with Kellen Jones and Mike Cornell taking the Magic Bus to Bridgeport before the Sound Tigers flew south to take on Charlotte. Bridgeport forward Steve Bernier, who played a handful of game with the Worcester Sharks in the 2006-07 season, took ill before the flight so the Sound Tigers recalled Jeff Kubiak to take his place. To replace those forwards Worcester signed Tommy Kelley from the SPHL’s Knoxville Ice Bears.

While in Charlotte Bridgeport goaltender Christopher Gibson got a little banged up, so Railers netminder Eamon McAdam was summoned to Bridgeport in case he was needed. That put the Railers down a goaltender, so they traded future considerations to Cincinnati to acquire Alex Sakellaropoulos. While Sakellaropoulos hasn’t had much of an opportunity at the pro level he excelled in college, going 40-22-13 for Union. Last season he was a finalist for the ECAC’s Ken Dryden Award, given to the conference’s best goaltender.

In an oddity, Friday marked the first game all season that goaltender Mitch Gillam was completely decked out in Railers gear. The issue with his blue pants was well known, but earlier this season Gillam was forced to switch back to his Cornell mask when the Railers mask he was using, originally created for Joe Fallon, didn’t fit properly. While it was being repaired for him the paint job was changed from Fallon’s #29 to Gillam’s #35. In kind of an odd twist, when Sakellaropoulos took over for Gillam Friday night all the equipment Sakellaropoulos was wearing had Union College’s colors.

With Jacksonville in town it marked the first time in Worcester pro hockey history they played a team from Florida. The Railers won’t play in Jacksonville this season, but they do trek to The Sunshine State for three games against Orlando in February.

Friday marked the start of an 11 game home stand for the Railers, by the far longest one ever in Worcester pro hockey history. The previous longest was the eight home games the IceCats played in a row at the then named Worcester’s Centrum Centre during the 2003-04 season. The Sharks had two home stands of seven games, one in the 2008-09 season, and one to end the 2013-14 season.

The three stars of the game were
1) Tanner Elerbe (Jacksonville #29) goal, assist
2) Woody Hudson (Railers #23) goal, assist
3) Shapiro (Jacksonville #73) goal, assist
The TWIW Player of the Game was Barry Almeida.

Even Strength Lines
Saracino/Lane/Almeida
Gaudreau/Syner/Hudson
DiChiara/Bowen/Kelley
Turcotte
McKenzie/Gammage
Masella/Hamonic
Muto/Beukeboom

BOX SCORE
Jacksonville 2 3 0 – 5
Worcester 1 2 0 – 3
1st Period-1, Jacksonville, Erickson 5 (Shapiro, Harkins), 5:06. 2, Worcester, Hudson 13 (Gaudreau, Beukeboom), 13:47 (PP). 3, Jacksonville, Clark 7 (Savage), 15:30 (PP). Penalties-Critchlow Jax (boarding), 6:20; DiChiara Wor (tripping), 8:52; Jeke Jax (tripping), 13:40; Saracino Wor (high-sticking), 13:55; Savage Jax (hooking), 18:44.
2nd Period-4, Worcester, Almeida 11 (Hudson), 0:59. 5, Jacksonville, Eberle 12 (Fawcett), 3:50. 6, Worcester, Lane 4 (Saracino, Almeida), 5:35. 7, Jacksonville, Pearce 13 (Eberle, Harkins), 10:04. 8, Jacksonville, Shapiro 1 18:38. Penalties-No Penalties
3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Erickson Jax (roughing), 17:13.
Shots on Goal-Jacksonville 11-16-8-35. Worcester 6-10-9-25.
Power Play Opportunities-Jacksonville 1 / 2; Worcester 1 / 4.
Goalies-Jacksonville, Lotz 6-5-1-1 (25 shots-22 saves). Worcester, Gillam 7-9-0-0 (27 shots-22 saves); Sakellaropoulos 0-0-0-0 (8 shots-8 saves).
A-3,656
Referees-Sean MacFarlane (4).
Linesmen-Kyle Richtelle (73), Brent Colby (38).P

With the Worcester Railers on the last leg of their six game road trip they were hoping to ride the wave of momentum from Friday night’s overtime win against Manchester in Saturday’s rematch against the Monarchs at the SNHU Arena.

The Railers did have the best of the scoring bids early, with opportunities by Jeff Kubiak and Kellen Jones both getting past Manchester goaltender Branden Komm but each time the puck failed to cross the goal line.

In what has become an issue for Worcester this season it was a big mistake that resulted in the puck ending up in their own net. While the Railers were on the power play in the first period the Monarchs cleared the puck out of their zone, and Worcester netminder Mitch Gillam raced out to the top of the right circle to gather the puck. Unfortunately he missed the puck and Zac Lynch put it into the empty Railers net for a 1-0 lead for Manchester at 15:14.

Worcester continued to carry the play through intermission, and their hard work finally paid off at 7:13 when Jones gathered a rebound of his own shot, and with Chris Langkow setting a screen Jones fired again at net and beat Komm to tie the game. Barry Almeida picked up his fifteenth assist on the season with the lone helper on the goal.

In the third period the Railers once again pressured Manchester but couldn’t get another one past Komm. After a couple missed calls on Manchester the Monarchs got a power play opportunity on a borderline play, and five seconds later Matt Buckles deflected one past Gillam for the 2-1 lead. The Monarchs would add a late empty net goal for the 3-1 final.

The Railers went 0-5 on the power play, and have not scored a power play goal in their last 23 chances going back to December 30th.

Worcester now heads to the ECHL All-Star break, with just Woody Hudson heading to Indianapolis to take part in the festivities. They return to the ice Friday at the DCU Center against the Jacksonville Icemen, which begins an 11 game home stand for the Railers.

RAILERS NOTES
Scratches for the Railers were Connor Doherty, Sean Gammage, Matt Gaudreau (21-day IR/foot), Josh Monk (21-day IR/upper body), Ashton Rome (upper body), and T.J. Syner. Eamon McAdam was the back-up goaltender. There’s been no official word on Rome’s injury, but based on what’s being said it seems like this is more than a day-to-day situation. He was behind the bench as an assistant coach with head coach Jamie Russell and assistant Terry Bangen.

Word from the Railers is Gaudreau is close to returning, if not for the start of their 11 game home stand next Friday then certainly the weekend after. There has been no word on when Monk is expected to be available, but he was seen at the SNHU Arena during Friday night’s contest between the two teams.

Gasper Kopitar, who played for Manchester the last two seasons, was a scratch for the Monarchs as he has been since October when he re-signed with the club. Kopitar, who is from Slovenia, is having immigration problems and is ineligible to play until those issues are sorted out. The only non-USA players the Railers have are all Canadian, so immigration paperwork for them, while still complex, is slightly easier to get approved.

Newly signed forward Brian Bowen made his pro debut Saturday, firing five shots on goal and seeing lots of ice time late in the game with Worcester trailing. The University of Vermont alumnus wore #11, the number worn by Ryan Lannon in his brief stay with the team.

As usual the Railers went with their dark road jerseys in Manchester while the Monarchs wore a specialty jersey honoring the girl scouts that where mostly white but featured a lot of green. Both teams used their regular helmets. This Week In Worcester writer Dylan Schofield mentioned on Twitter during the second intermission that many of those jerseys had no bids on them at the silent auction.

There was no supplemental discipline announced for Manchester’s Colton Saucerman, who was assessed with an “Illegal Check to the Head” minor during in the second period of Friday night’s game for a high hit on Matt Lane. The hit wasn’t especially serious and additional discipline looked unwarranted, but the ECHL does automatically review all penalized hits to the head so it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility Saucerman could have been fined.

With the Railers getting the the franchise’s first overtime game winner by Matt Lane Friday night they will not be the first Worcester pro team to fail to record a regular season OT goal. They are currently tied for the city low for a season with the 2013-14 Worcester Sharks, who had just one OT game winner that season. That goal was by Daniil Tarasov against the Providence Bruins on March 14, 2014.

The three stars of the game were
1) Zac Lynch (Manchester #16) 2 goals
2) Matt Buckles (Manchester #14) goal
3) Branden Komm (Manchester #30) win, 30 saves

The TWIW Player of the Game was Kellen Jones.

Even Strength Lines
Jones/Langkow/Almeida
Saracino/Kubiak/Hudson
DiChiara/Lane/Bowen
Turcotte

McKenzie/Hamonic
Masella/Muto
Cornell/Beukeboom

BOX SCORE
Worcester 0 1 0 – 1
Manchester 1 0 2 – 3

1st Period-1, Manchester, Lynch 17 (Doherty), 15:14 (SH). Penalties-Turcotte Wor (fighting – major), 3:22; Nemcik Man (fighting – major), 3:22; Watson Man (hooking), 7:38; Nemcik Man (slashing), 14:14.

2nd Period-2, Worcester, Jones 9 (Almeida), 7:13. Penalties-Cornell Wor (fighting – major), 4:45; Marcinew Man (fighting – major), 4:45; Doherty Man (hooking), 9:46; Hudson Wor (interference), 11:31.

3rd Period-3, Manchester, Buckles 6 (Kolomatis, Watson), 13:23 (PP). 4, Manchester, Lynch 18 (Saucerman, Wyszomirski), 18:44 (EN). Penalties-Privitera Man (hooking), 3:29; Masella Wor (fighting – major), 9:13; LaVallee-Smotherman Man (fighting – major), 9:13; Kolomatis Man (slashing), 9:47; Hudson Wor (slashing), 10:32; Langkow Wor (interference), 13:18.

Shots on Goal-Worcester 8-14-9-31. Manchester 9-8-7-24.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 0 / 5; Manchester 1 / 3.
Goalies-Worcester, Gillam 7-8-0-0 (23 shots-21 saves). Manchester, Komm 5-5-2-0 (31 shots-30 saves).
A-3,145
Referees-Olivier Gouin (7).
Linesmen-Chris Provost (50), Kyle Richtelle (73).

With the Worcester Railers beginning a three game set in Reading, Pennsylvania against the Royals Saturday night at Santander Arena they were hoping to ride the wave of momentum from their shootout win in Adirondack the night before.

Unfortunately for the Railers it was Reading controlling play the entire opening twenty minutes, outshooting Worcester 13-2. Luckily for the Railers the Royals only got one past Worcester goaltender Eamon McAdam in the period when Ryan Penny grabbed a rebound of his own shot and stickhandled around a down and out McAdam, putting the puck into a yawning net at 4:59.

It was more of the same for the first few minutes of the second period, but slowly the Railers picked up their play. Worcester finally broke through at 9:17 of the period with McAdam off for an extra attacker while referee Stan Szczurek was signaling a delayed penalty on Reading. As play went on Barry Almeida collected the puck along the goal line and fed Kellen Jones on the right wing. Jones’ shot beat Royals netminder Mark Dekanich for the 1-1 game. Connor Doherty had the secondary assist.

Both squads came out battling in the third period looking for the two points, and play had a “next goal wins” feel to it. As has happened many times this season, a couple bad calls went against Worcester and the puck ended up in the Railers net. First the linesmen ruled icing on Worcester despite Yanick Turcotte winning the race to the circles, and then on the ensuing referee Szczurek allowed a shot deflected by Chris McCarthy that appeared to be over the crossbar to count as a goal at 13:33.

They say baseball is a game of inches, but the Railers proved that applies to hockey too as it was an inch that saved Worcester and led to their tying goal. Reading forward Scott Tanski had a yawning net in front of him, but his shot somehow hit the post and bounded away instead of rolling in. Just seconds later Matt Lane scored at the other end off a nice feed by T.J. Syner at 14:58. Ben Masella has the second assist.

Just as it looked like Worcester would be heading to overtime for their third straight game the Railers broke into the Royals zone on an odd man rush, where Frankie DiChiara fired a laser over Dekanich and under the crossbar with 22 seconds remaining, with assists to Jeff Kubiak and Masella, for the 3-2 win.

These same two teams play again Sunday at 4pm.

RAILERS NOTES
Scratches for the Railers were Brock Beukeboom (healthy), Matt Gaudreau (21-day IR/foot), Josh Monk (21-day IR/undisclosed). Mitch Gillam was the back-up goaltender.

Worcester arrived in Reading after their “mad dash” from Adirondack at 3:30am Saturday. The team did not have a morning skate. With the Railers also playing the Royals on Sunday and Wednesday they’ll have plenty of time to get rested between each game. The team has already announced there will be no morning skate Sunday either.

Former Worcester Sharks and Holy Cross College forward Adam Schmidt was a scratch for Reading, as he has been since being elbowed in the face on December 30th by defenseman Mike Bergin of the Adirondack Thunder. Bergin was not suspended for the incident. Schmidt played 14 games for the WorSharks during the 2013-14 season after finishing his four year career with the Crusaders. He went on to play three seasons in the HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden’s version of the AHL, before returning to North America with the Royals this season.

With the Railers now having played six games that went to overtime it’s become clear that head coach Jamie Russell is going to be very aggressive in the extra session. Many times he has three forwards on the ice, generally only using a defenseman for draws in the Worcester zone. Russell’s use of three forwards increased after the departure of Patrick McNally, so it’s probably safe to say it’s going to become the norm instead of the exception.

Taking a look at three Railers, all defensemen, currently playing in the AHL…Mike Cornell, who was recalled to Bridgeport on New Year’s Day has played just one game for the Sound Tigers, going scoreless. Chris Langkow, who signed a PTO with the Hartford Wolf Pack on December 28th, has a goal and an assist in four games. Patrick Cullity, who was assigned to Worcester by Bridgeport to get into playing shape, has an assist in four games.

With two assists on the night Ben Masella had his first multiple point night as a pro, and Connor Doherty notched his pro first assist. Combined with his first goal Friday night Doherty has his first pro scoring streak.

The three stars of the game were
1) Frankie DiChiara (Railers #17) game winning goal
2) Chris McCarthy (Reading #3) goal
3) Eamon McAdam (Railers #39) win, 34 saves

The TWIW Player of the Game was Ben Masella.

BOX SCORE
Worcester 0 1 2 – 3
Reading 1 0 1 – 2

1st Period-1, Reading, Penny 10 (Cleland, Naclerio), 4:59. Penalties-McCarthy Rea (slashing), 12:18; Gammage Wor (tripping), 19:13.

2nd Period-2, Worcester, Jones 7 (Almeida, Doherty), 9:17. Penalties-No Penalties

3rd Period-3, Reading, McCarthy 10 (Zajac, Hora), 13:33. 4, Worcester, Lane 2 (Syner, Masella), 14:58. 5, Worcester, DiChiara 4 (Kubiak, Masella), 19:38. Penalties-No Penalties

Shots on Goal-Worcester 2-15-10-27. Reading 13-13-10-36.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 0 / 1; Reading 0 / 1.
Goalies-Worcester, McAdam 8-7-3-2 (36 shots-34 saves). Reading, Dekanich 8-11-1-0 (27 shots-24 saves).
A-5,902
Referees-Stan Szczurek (15).
Linesmen-Zach Roberts (84), Jason Mandroc (73).