WORCESTER – The Worcester Railers continued their playoff push Saturday night at the DCU Center with a second game in a row against the Wheeling Nailers, the team they’re chasing for the final spot playoff spot in the ECHL’s North Division.
The Railers were looking to continue the momentum of their 5-0 win against the Nailers Friday night, but from the get go Wheeling had other ideas and controlled huge portions of the opening period. Worcester’s 12-10 shot advantage in the first was misleading as it was goaltender Mitch Gillam that kept the Railers in the game. At the other end Wheeling netminder Matt O’Connor was just as sharp.
The second period started off a little better for Worcester, and T.J. Syner got the Railers on the board when he tipped Justin Hamonic’s blast past O’Connor at 2:10. Matt Lane had the second assist on the goal.
Riley Bourbonnais broke Gillam’s shutout streak at 10:33 when his breakaway bid went through the five hole and in. Daniel Tedesco and Andrew Schmit had the helpers on the play.
In the third period both squads had good scoring bids but each goaltender kept his team tied until Freddie Tiffels fired a shot through a screen that beat Gillam at 12:20. Bourbonnais and Schmit had the assists.
After the Railers were forced to kill a penalty they were able to pull Gillam for the extra attacker, and at 18:37 Woody Hudson tipped Barry Almeida’s blast past O’Connor to tie the game. Matty Gaudreau had the secondary assist on the goal.
It would stay that way through overtime, and on to the shootout the teams went where Lane and Tommy Kelley would score for the Railers to give them the 3-2 shootout victory.
Scratches for the Railers were Brian Bowen, Ben Masella (lower body), Josh Monk (21-day IR/Upper Body), Ashton Rome (21-day IR/Upper Body), and Yanick Turcotte. The Railers say Masella is “day to day” and is not expected to play Sunday against Manchester. His status for the game Wednesday at Wheeling hasn’t been determined. After Friday night’s game the Magic Bus arrived in Worcester to drop off Matty Gaudreau, whose travel was delayed due to the large East Coast storm.
Fans in attendance were buzzing about the overtime period, where by this writer’s very unofficial count referee Sean MacFarlane failed to call two trips, two roughings, a hook, a hold, and an interference minor. One of those trips should have been a penalty shot for the Railers. MacFarlane did call matching penalties with 29 seconds remaining in the period, sending Wheeling’s Dan Milan and Worcester’s Jeff Kubiak going off for roughing. What actually happened was Milan was laying on top of Kubiak preventing him from leaving the Wheeling zone so Worcester could re-enter with the puck.
Upon further review…Friday night’s offensive outburst was the seventh time this season the Railers have scored five goals in a game. The previous six times involved only three teams as Worcester has out up a five-spot on Adirondack, Brampton, and Quad City two times each. Five of those were at home, with just December 23rd’s 5-3 win at the Thunder being the only road occasion. The Railers have never scored six or more goals in a game.
With the shootout win the Railers “tragic number”, the combination of points Wheeling earns and Worcester fails to gain, is now 27. If that number hits zero, Worcester is eliminated from the playoff hunt. Sports Club Stats, when it is updated to include Saturday’s game, will have Worcester’s playoff chances listed at around 20.7%. The exact number won’t be known until after posting time as the results of other games can move the number up or down a bit.
The three stars of the game were
1) Woody Hudson (Railers #23) game tying goal
2) Tommy Kelley (Railers #37) shootout game winner
3) Riley Bourbonnais (Wheeling #14) goal, assist
The TWIW Player of the Game was Mitch Gillam
Even Strength Lines (start of game)
Saracino / Langkow / Almeida
Gaudreau / Kubiak / Hudson
DiChiara / Lane / Syner
Hamonic / Doherty
McKenzie / Beukeboom
MacKinnon / Muto
Wheeling 0 1 1 0 – 2
Worcester 0 1 1 0 – 3
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Josephs Whl (holding), 6:02; Doherty Wor (cross-checking), 11:06; Descoteaux Whl (holding the stick), 12:06.
2nd Period-1, Worcester, Syner 7 (Hamonic, Lane), 2:10. 2, Wheeling, Bourbonnais 21 (Tedesco, Schmit), 10:33. Penalties-Hamonic Wor (high-sticking), 4:55; Doherty Wor (delay of game), 16:17; Josephs Whl (slashing), 18:36.
3rd Period-3, Wheeling, Tiffels 11 (Schmit, Bourbonnais), 12:20. 4, Worcester, Hudson 17 (Almeida, Gaudreau), 18:37. Penalties-Bourbonnais Whl (fighting – major), 5:32; Doherty Wor (fighting – major), 5:32; Almeida Wor (hooking), 15:59.
OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Milan Whl (roughing), 4:31; Kubiak Wor (roughing), 4:31.
Shootout – Wheeling 1 (Gardiner NG, Francis G, Wydo NG), Worcester 2 (Lane G, Almeida NG, Kelley G).
Shots on Goal-Wheeling 10-10-9-3-0-32. Worcester 12-7-10-3-1-33.
Power Play Opportunities-Wheeling 0 / 4; Worcester 0 / 3.
Goalies-Wheeling, O’Connor 2-9-1-2 (32 shots-30 saves). Worcester, Gillam 13-12-0-1 (32 shots-30 saves).
Referees-Sean MacFarlane (4).
Linesmen-Kyle Richtelle (73), JP Waleski (51).