The Worcester Railers kicked off their chase for the ECHL’s Kelly Cup Friday night at the Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls, New York with game one of their best of seven series against the Adirondack Thunder looking to keep the momentum of their playoff clinching run going.
Early on it was fairly even as both squads looked to set the tone, and unfortunately for the Railers it was the Thunder that struck first when defenseman Dylan Olsen wristed a knuckleball of a shot from the left point. The puck deflected off of Yanick Turcotte, and as it continued towards the net it changed direction once again when it banked off Adirondack forward Tim Harrison and past Worcester goaltender Mitch Gillam at 8:58. Austin Orszulak had the second helper.
Despite being outshot 8-5 the Thunder territoriality controlled much of the rest of the period but the Railers were able to escape the period down just a single goal.
It didn’t get much better for Worcester in the second period as Adirondack took advantage of a borderline call and a big non-call to take a two goal lead. The Thunder got a power play chance when after a large scrum Barry Almeida inexplicably was the only player penalized, and Paul Rodrigues followed with a goal as Gillam was clearly interfered with. Despite there being two referees in the ECHL playoffs neither saw Gillam being bumped and the goal stood at 7:54. Ryan Schmelzer and Desmond Bergin had the assists.
The third period brought more of the same for Worcester as Adirondack took a three goal lead when Brian Ward fired a rebound from the corner off a still down Gillam and into the net at 5:50. James Henry and Olsen had the helpers. That was more than enough for Thunder goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood as the Railers dropped game one 3-0.
The two teams play game two Saturday night at the DCU Center at 7pm.
Scratches for the Railers were Connor Doherty, Chris Langkow (21-day IR/lower body), and Jake Randolph. There was a wave of Worcester transactions prior to the Monday deadline for ECHL teams to have their playoff rosters in to the league offices. The Railers released defenseman Josh McArdle, forwards Maurizio Colella and Dwyer Tschantz, and goaltender Will King. Bridgeport then assigned Jeff Kubiak and Ryan MacKinnon to Worcester, and the New York Islanders assigned Eamon McAdam to the Railers. McAdam was the back-up goaltender.
Worcester’s playoff roster doesn’t include Tommy Kelley and Josh Monk so we’ll no longer be listing them as injury scratches. The roster did include Kellen Jones, Patrick Cullity, and Josh Holmstrom, and those players are available to be assigned to Worcester and play in the Kelly Cup playoffs when the Sound Tigers season is over. It also included Chris Langkow, which essentially dispels the rumor of his injury being a torn ACL. Word is Langkow will likely not be available for the first round.
Woody Hudson became the tenth player in Worcester pro hockey history since the IceCats era to fall just short of the 20 goal plateau with his 19 regular season tallies. That actually bodes well for Hudson as eight of those ten saw time in the NHL. Some of the other 19 goal finishers for Worcester include Jamal Mayers (97-98), Riley Armstrong (06-07), Tom Cavanagh (07-08), and Andrew Desjardins (09-10).
Despite both Adirondack and Worcester having long hockey histories this is the first time the two cities have faced off in the playoffs. With the AHL generally using a divisional playoff system Worcester pro teams haven’t had to face playoff opponents outside New England very often, and when they have the results were not good. In 2003 the IceCats were swept by the Binghamton Senators 3-0, and in 2015 the WorSharks lost a 4-1 series to the Hershey Bears. The IceCats also lost 2-1 in the 2002 preliminary round to the Manitoba Moose, but all three of those game were in Worcester.
The three stars of the game were
1) Mackenzie Blackwood (Adirondack #29), 27 save shutout
2) Tim Harrison (Adirondack #19), goal
3) Paul Rodrigues (Adirondack #17), goal
The TWIW Player of the Game was Jeff Kubiak.
Even strength lines
Saracino / Kubiak / Almeida
Gaudreau / Willick / Hudson
DiChiara / Lane / Syner
MacKinnon / Cornell
Panico / Hamonic
Masella / McKenzie
Worcester 0 0 0 – 0
Adirondack 1 1 1 – 3
1st Period-1, Adirondack, Harrison 1 (Olsen, Orszulak), 8:58. Penalties-Harrison Adk (slashing), 13:41.
2nd Period-2, Adirondack, Rodrigues 1 (Schmelzer, Bergin), 7:54 (PP). Penalties-Bergin Adk (tripping), 0:29; Almeida Wor (roughing), 7:03; Henry Adk (roughing), 7:54; Saracino Wor (tripping), 12:12; Wallin Adk (boarding), 14:58; Lane Wor (tripping), 16:41; served by Orszulak Adk (bench – too many men), 18:12.
3rd Period-3, Adirondack, Ward 1 (Henry, Olsen), 5:50. Penalties-Bergin Adk (high-sticking), 1:52; served by Panico Wor (bench – too many men), 7:16; Cornell Wor (cross-checking), 13:11; Wallin Adk (interference on the goalkeeper), 13:22; Panico Wor (roughing), 15:21; Cornell Wor (misconduct), 18:50; Turcotte Wor (roughing, fighting – major), 18:50; Ward Adk (fighting – major), 18:50.
Shots on Goal-Worcester 8-11-8-27. Adirondack 5-9-7-21.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 0 / 7; Adirondack 1 / 7.
Goalies-Worcester, Gillam (21 shots-18 saves). Adirondack, Blackwood (27 shots-27 saves).
Referees-Andrea Barone (15), Jesse Gour (24).
Linesmen-Kyle Richtelle (73), JP Waleski (51).