The Worcester Railers were looking to end their Florida trip on an up note Saturday night at the Amway Center in Orlando against the Solar Bears after the two squads split the opening two games.
The Railers started off significantly better than the first two games, controlling the pace and having possession of the puck for long stretches of play. All that hard work paid off at 9:18 when Tommy Kelley and Matt Lane played pass and catch into the Solar Bears zone. Kelley ended up in the corner with puck, and T.J. Syner collected Kelley’s pass and fired it past Orlando goaltender Mackenzie Skapski for the 1-0 lead.
Just when it looked like Worcester would hit the first intermission with the lead Mike Monfredo beat Railers netminder Mitch Gillam with a backhander with 6.1 seconds remaining in the period. He then stood over Gillam, which drew the ire of Woody Hudson and his Worcester teammates. Monfredo also taunted the Railers bench as he skated by.
Yanick Turcotte went on the ice for the next face-off, but Orlando head coach Drake Berehowsky pulled Monfredo off the ice. The two were on the ice to start the next period, but Monfredo refused Turcotte’s multiple invitations to drop the gloves.
Both teams had decent opportunities in the middle period but the goaltenders ruled the middle twenty minutes as each made 11 saves in the period. Worcester had a great opportunity to grab an early lead in the third period with 3:30 of power play time to start the stanza when Martins Dzierkals received a double minor for slashing Jeff Kubiak late in the second period, but the Railers couldn’t generate any scoring chances with the man advantage.
Neither team would score in the third period to send the game to overtime. Once again the Railers would begin a period on the power play, but it was the same story as earlier as Worcester didn’t generate much offense skating four on three. Worcester ended the game going 0-7 with the man advantage.
Each team’s best chance in the extra period happened in the last handful of seconds when Gillam had to make a big save on an Orlando three on one rush, and right after the save Nick Saracino had a long breakaway bid spoiled by Skapski.
To the shootout the teams went, with Tommy Kelley getting the only goal for Worcester while Joshua Winquist and J.J. Piccinich each scored for the Solar Bears to give Orlando the 2-1 victory.
The Railers seven game road trip continues Wednesday in Adirondack.
Scratches for Worcester were Brian Bowen, Josh Monk (21-day IR/upper body), Eamon McAdam (suspended, game one of two), Vinny Muto, and Ashton Rome (21-day IR/upper body). Chris Habazin, was the back-up goaltender. Habazin, who is the emergency goaltender available to all ECHL teams playing in Orlando, was released at the end of the game.
The Railers were without leading scorer Barry Almeida for the overtime period and the shootout as he took a puck to the mouth late in the third period. Almeida quickly went off to the dressing room with trainer Rob Tagle, but apparently the damage was bad enough that he couldn’t get back on to the ice.
Earlier today the Maine Mariners, the expansion ECHL team located in Portland, Maine, announced that former WorSharks forward Riley Armstrong would be their franchise’s first head coach. Armstrong, who was the assistant coach for the Wheeling Nailers earlier this season, played 208 games for WorSharks over three seasons and was an “honorable mention” for Worcester’s fan voted 20th anniversary team.
The Railers are doing some finger crossing hoping that the snowstorm hitting southern New England overnight doesn’t impact their 7am Sunday morning flight from Orlando to T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island. At least three flights from Orlando to T.F. Green were canceled Saturday night, so that may put the Railers travel plans in jeopardy. A small delay won’t be a major issue as Worcester doesn’t play again until Wednesday night in Adirondack.
Upon further review…the games on Thursday and Friday against Orlando were the first time that a team had 40 or more shots on goal against a Worcester team since at least the 2006-07 season. The WorSharks never had it happen to them, and available online records for the IceCats are far from complete enough to determine if it ever happened to them.
Taking a look at some of the Railers roster players currently playing in Bridgeport, Kellen Jones has a goal and an assist in 12 games with the Sound Tigers, Patrick Cullity has two assists in 15 games in Bridgeport, and Mike Cornell has gone scoreless in nine games played.
For some other players likely not returning to Worcester this season, former Railers defenseman Patrick McNally has a goal and three assists in 11 games for Leksands IF in the Allsvenskan League in Sweden, Sean Gammage has a goal and six assists for Birmingham of the SPHL, and Willie Raskob has 28 points in 46 games with the ECHL’s Quad City Mallards.
The three stars of the game were
1) Mackenzie Skapski (Orlando #32), win, 32 saves
2) J.J. Piccinich (Orlando #14) shootout game winner
3) Mike Monfredo (Orlando #3) goal
The TWIW Player of the Game was Mitch Gillam.
Worcester 1 0 0 0 – 1
Orlando 1 0 0 0 – 2
1st Period-1, Worcester, Syner 4 (Kelley, Lane), 9:18. 2, Orlando, Monfredo 4 (Winquist, LeBlanc), 19:54. Penalties-Jardine Orl (delay of game), 0:24; Turcotte Wor (slashing), 3:15; Zimmerman Orl (tripping), 17:38.
2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Piccinich Orl (holding), 6:02; Hudson Wor (interference), 8:22; Phillips Orl (slashing), 13:11; Kubiak Wor (hooking), 13:17; Dzierkals Orl (high-sticking – double), 19:30.
3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Hudson Wor (helmet violation), 2:43; Crane Orl (hooking), 19:28.
OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties
Shootout – Worcester 1 (Lane NG, Kelley G, DiChiara NG, Saracino NG), Orlando 2 (Dzierkals NG, Winquist G, Novak NG, Piccinich G).
Shots on Goal-Worcester 10-11-7-5-0-33. Orlando 4-11-7-1-1-24.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 0 / 7; Orlando 0 / 4.
Goalies-Worcester, Gillam 9-10-0-1 (23 shots-22 saves). Orlando, Skapski 8-10-2-0 (33 shots-32 saves).
Referees-Tyler Puddifant (28).
Linesmen-Logan Bellgraph (52), Christopher Williams (62).