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.
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
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).
Referees-Jesse Gour (24).
Linesmen-Kyle Richtelle (73), Chris Provost (50).