WORCESTER- The Worcester Railers took on the Adirondack Thunder Sunday afternoon at the DCU Center still within reach of the final playoff spot in the ECHL’s North Division, needing wins any way they can get them.
Things didn’t start out so well for the hometown team when Thunder forward Kenton Miller beat Railers goaltender Mitch Gillam with a wicked wrist shot from just inside the right circle at 6:14. James Henry had the primary assist with a nice pass from behind the goal line. Terrence Wallin had the secondary assist.
The Railers had many great chances in the opening period but couldn’t solve Adirondack netminder Olivier Mantha. Their best chances came when Mantha stoned Matty Gaudreau and Connor Doherty on back to back bids.
Worcester had better luck in the second period when they swarmed the net early in the frame. Jeff Kubiak missed banging home a rebound by inches, but got a second opportunity for when Woody Hudson’s backhand shot was saved and the rebound landed right on Kubiak’s stick. He buried it at 1:27 to tie the game. Justin Hamonic had the other helper.
The Thunder would retake the lead at 6:44 on a nice tip from the high slot by Brian Ward. Mike Bergin blasted one from the blue line just as Ward skated toward the slot, and Gillam had no chance on the deflected shot. Troy Bourke had the other assist on the play
Later on in the second stanza Matt Lane tied the game again with a goal very similar to Ward’s goal when Lane tipped Ryan MacKinnon’s blast over the shoulder of Mantha. Frankie DiChiara had the second assist on the goal at 16:44.
Both goaltenders were stellar in the third period and overtime, with each making several nice saves. So to the shootout both squads went, and after Wallin and DiChiara both scored in round four it took until round 12 for a winner to be determined, and it was Mike Cornell’s shot that beat Mantha five hole that was the game winner. Gillam had to make one more save to seal the victory, and did so for the 3-2 victory.
The Railers are off until Friday when they begin a three in three at the DCU Center with a tilt against the Wheeling Nailers.
Scratches for the Railers were Ben Masella (lower body), Josh McArdle, Josh Monk (21-day IR/upper body), and Yanick Turcotte. Will King was the back-up goaltender.
Just prior to Thursday’s ECHL trade deadline Worcester sent defenseman Brock Beukeboom to the Cincinnati Cyclones for cash considerations. Also on Thursday the Railers signed UMass-Lowell defensive standout Tommy Panico to a contract, and on Saturday released forward Brian Bowen. Defenseman Justin Agosta remains suspended by the team for not reporting after being traded from Manchester. Defenseman Mike Cornell was assigned to the Railers by Bridgeport on Sunday and was in the line-up for the first time since January 21st.
While the Railers were idle Saturday night the Adirondack Thunder were not, hosting the Norfolk Admirals at the Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls, NY. That meant a “mad dash” for the Thunder after their 4-1 win to get to Worcester for the 3pm start on Sunday. On top of that they lost an hour with the “spring ahead” beginning of Daylight Savings Time.
Since Worcester’s last game on Wednesday the Wheeling Nailers, the team the Railers are chasing for the final playoff spot in the ECHL’s North Division, have played twice and split a series with the Reading Royals. That dropped Worcester “tragic number” to 19 beginning play on Sunday, but with the win Sunday that number remains the same.
After Sunday’s game the Railers currently have three games in hand over Wheeling, and the way the schedule plays out the games in hand turn out to be March 18 vs Utah, March 28 vs Adirondack, and April 1 at Adirondack. April 8th, the last game of the regular season, also will eventually be a game in hand as Wheeling plays on the sixth while the Railers are idle.
Twice during the game the lack of video replay came into play. The first time was on Connor Doherty’s bid right after Olivier Mantha had made a save Matty Gaudreau breakaway bid. The save was made with Mantha in the net and it appeared the puck had crossed the goal line before the save was made. Those on that end say it didn’t go in, but a video replay would have confirmed that.
The second time was at the other end of the building when a Railers shot caused the goal judge to turn on the red light. Referee Matt Menniti quickly signaled “no goal” as play continued. Fans on that end of the building were adamant the puck went into the net and bounded out after hitting the center support. Again, video replay would have confirmed what actually happened.
Prior to the start of the game the Railers Booster Club handed out two Player of the Month Awards, with Barry Almeida winning for December and Eamon McAdam winning for January.
The three stars of the game were
1) Mike Cornell (Railers #6), shootout game winner
2) Jeff Kubiak (Railers #16), goal
3) Mitch Gillam (Railers #35) win, 28 saves, 11 saves in shootout
The TWIW Player of the Game was Matt Lane
Even Strength Lines
Saracino / Langkow /Almeida
Gaudreau / Kubiak / Hudson
Syner / Lane / Kelley
Doherty / Hamonic
McKenzie / MacKinnon
Panico / Cornell
Adirondack 1 1 0 0 – 2
Worcester 0 2 0 0 – 3
1st Period-1, Adirondack, Miller 22 (Henry, Wallin), 6:14. Penalties-Rodrigues Adk (tripping), 3:12; served by Lane Wor (bench – too many men), 12:12.
2nd Period-2, Worcester, Kubiak 11 (Hudson, Hamonic), 1:27. 3, Adirondack, Ward 25 (Bergin, Bourke), 6:44. 4, Worcester, Lane 10 (MacKinnon, DiChiara), 16:44. Penalties-Bourke Adk (tripping), 10:46; Gillam Wor (tripping), 19:46.
3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Bergin Adk (boarding), 9:37.
OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Mercier Adk (tripping), 3:47.
Shootout – Adirondack 1 (Bourke NG, Conacher NG, Henry NG, Wallin G, Rodrigues NG, Bergin NG, Miller NG, Ward NG, Brodeur NG, Mercier NG, Harrison NG, Bergin NG), Worcester 2 (Lane NG, Kelley NG, Syner NG, DiChiara G, Almeida NG, Gaudreau NG, Kubiak NG, Langkow NG, Saracino NG, Hudson NG, MacKinnon NG, Cornell G).
Shots on Goal-Adirondack 10-8-8-4-0-30. Worcester 10-13-10-3-1-37.
Power Play Opportunities-Adirondack 0 / 2; Worcester 0 / 4.
Goalies-Adirondack, Mantha 1-1-0-1 (36 shots-34 saves). Worcester, Gillam 14-13-0-1 (30 shots-28 saves).
Referees-Matt Menniti (10).
Linesmen-Kyle Richtelle (73), Brent Colby (38).