The Worcester Railers continued their trip out to the mountain time zone Friday night with a game against the Utah Grizzlies. In the opening period the Railers came out hot, controlling the play and forcing Utah goaltender Kevin Carr to make several tough saves.
Worcester’s best chance came about halfway through the stanza when Chris Lankow had well over half the net available but somehow Carr was able to get his left pad on the shot. A few moments later Ben Masella threw a highlight quality hip check against Utah winger Ryan Olsen as the Railers continued to control the momentum.
Despite playing most of the period on their heels it was Utah that would get the only goal in the opening 20 minutes when Michael Pelech took a feed from Greger Hanson at the top of the left circle and beat Worcester netminder Eamon McAdam at 14:04.
It took just 48 seconds after intermission for the Railers to get back to even when Lankow fired a laser over the right shoulder of Carr from almost the exact spot Pelech scored from to tie the game, with assists going to Wade Murphy and Mike Cornell. The Railers thought they’d taken the lead later in the period, but for the second time in three games Murphy had a goal called back due to a high stick.
Just when it looked like the middle period would end with the score tied Utah’s Cliff Watson scored with .2 seconds left in the frame to give the Grizzlies a 2-1 lead. To say the Railers disagreed that the puck crossed the line before the horn sounded would be an understatement as head coach Jamie Russell vented on referee Liam Sewell for over a minute.
Once again it took less than a minute into the next period for the Railers to get back to even as Ashton Rome scored from the top of the crease after taking a feed from Barry Almeida 28 seconds into the third stanza. Worcester grabbed its first lead of the game at 2:08 of the period when Patrick McNally fired one through traffic on the power play to light the lamp. TJ Syner and Almeida had the assists.
Charley Graaskamp would knot the game again 3-3 with a power play goal at 4:45, but the Railers would retake the lead 35 seconds later when Murphy would beat Carr to make it 4-3. Syner picked up his third point of the game on the play, and Yanick Turcotte earned his first point of the season with the secondary assist.
Utah would tie it again at 15:55 when Olsen grabbed a loose puck and beat McAdam, and the two teams would then head to overtime where Grizzlies defenseman Taylor Richart would score to give Utah a 5-4 win.
Scratches for the Railers were Frankie DiChiara, Ryan Lannon, Josh Monk (injured), Nick Saracino (injured), and Alex Vazzano. Mitch Gillam was the back-up goaltender. Eamon McAdam returned to action after missing two games with a lower body injury suffered at the tail end of Worcester’s opening night win against Manchester.
It was the first time the Railers faced an opponent that contained former Worcester AHLers as Greger Hanson, Michael Pelech, and Peter Sivak all had brief stints with the WorSharks over the years. Also, Grizzlies Head Coach Tim Branham played 1 game on defense for the WorSharks in 2008-09.
After further review: The goal originally credited to Mike Cornell last Saturday in Manchester has been changed to Kellen Jones. Worcester fans at that end of the building were saying all along the puck hit at least one player on its way into the net, but from this writer’s vantage point at the SNHU Arena some 200 feet away it was impossible to tell whom it had hit.
And while we’re looking back, Yanick Turcotte’s 34 penalty minutes Wednesday at Colorado is the most by a Worcester player since Frazer McLaren was called for 37 in December 21, 2012 against the Providence Bruins. That box score is one this writer has always doubted was correct as McLaren was given a double game misconduct where one looked to be the actual call. There is no doubt the 36 McLaren was assessed on November 1, 2009 against Springfield are all accurate, so the point might be moot anyway.
Turcotte received two game misconducts Wednesday. If he receives one more he will be automatically suspended one game by the ECHL. Each subsequent game misconduct results in an additional game being suspended, so his fourth would be two games, a fifth would be three games, and so on.
It’s been almost 14 full years since a team from Worcester traveled to Utah. The IceCats visited the then “E Center” in West Valley City for a pair of games against the AHL version of the Grizzlies in late November of 2003. Worcester won both of those games, 4-1 on November 20th and 5-2 on the 22nd.
In other Worcester-Utah hockey connections, the IceCats played one neutral site home game in their 11 seasons, playing the same Grizzlies at the Savvis Center in St Louis, Missouri on November 23rd after their two-game set in Utah. That game didn’t go so well for the IceCats, losing 1-0. Jason Bacashihua, who would go on to play for the IceCats in the 2004-05 season, got the shutout for the Grizzlies.
The three stars of the game were:
1) Kyle Thomas (Utah), 2 assists
2) Charley Graaskamp (Utah), goal
3) Ryan Olsen (Utah), goal, assist
The TWIW Player of the Game was TJ Syner.
Even Strength Lines
Worcester 0 1 3 0 – 4
Utah 1 1 2 1 – 5
1st Period-1, Utah, Pelech 4 (Hanson, Thomas), 14:04. Penalties-No Penalties
2nd Period-2, Worcester, Langkow 1 (Murphy, Cornell), 0:48. 3, Utah, Watson 2 (Pelech, Thomas), 19:59. Penalties-Lane Wor (interference), 4:42; Pelech Uta (charging), 6:57; Murphy Wor (slashing), 10:49.
3rd Period-4, Worcester, Rome 3 (Syner, Almeida), 0:28. 5, Worcester, McNally 3 (Syner, Almeida), 2:08 (PP). 6, Utah, Graaskamp 2 (Olsen, Misiak), 4:45 (PP). 7, Worcester, Murphy 2 (Syner, Turcotte), 5:20. 8, Utah, Olsen 1 (Harms, Richart), 15:55. Penalties-Pelech Uta (holding), 1:08; Hudson Wor (tripping), 2:46; Hudson Wor (unsportsmanlike conduct – disputing decision), 16:50; Thomas Uta (unsportsmanlike conduct – disputing decision), 16:50.
OT Period-9, Utah, Richart 4 (Sivak, Pelech), 1:08. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Worcester 12-5-8-1-26. Utah 9-13-9-1-32.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 1 / 2; Utah 1 / 3.
Goalies-Worcester, McAdam 1-0-1-0 (32 shots-27 saves). Utah, Carr 2-2-0-0 (26 shots-22 saves).
Referees-Liam Sewell (7).
Linesmen-James McKenna (96), Kollin Kleinendorst (35).