The Worcester Railers and Manchester Monarchs kicked off their year end home-and home series Saturday night at the DCU Center in front of 7,118 fans, and with the Railers getting blown out in their last game on Wednesday in Reading they were hoping to get off to a good start.
Worcester carried the play early, keeping the Monarchs hemmed unto their own zone for long periods of time. The constant pressure finally paid off when Woody Hudson got a stick on Mike Cornell’s shot. Hudson’s tip from about 20 feet out deflected the puck off the ice and past Manchester goaltender Branden Komm for the 1-0 lead at 9:40 of the opening period. Nick Saracino had the secondary assist.
Soon after Barry Almeida got tangled up with a Manchester player in front of the Railers bench and referee Steven Rouillard, who was almost 100 feet away, called Almeida for tripping. The Monarchs would capitalize on the weak call just seconds later when Sam Kurker took a feed from David Kolomatis and one-timed it from the right circle past Railers netminder Eamon McAdam.
Worcester would retake the lead just 1:38 into the second period when once again Hudson was able to deflect a puck shot by a defenseman. This time it was Ben Masella shooting the puck, and the deflection slowed the puck as it popped over Komm and into the net. Wade Murphy extended his points streak to three games with an assist on the play.
Manchester would go on to tie it again at 9:24 when Michael Doherty banged home a puck that was likely already going in, and then the Monarchs took the lead at 13:26 on a wrist shot by Francois Beauchemin.
Just when it looked like the Railers would end the second stanza trailing Almeida got them back to even when he tipped home a shot by T.J. Syner. Komm was fooled a bit when Syner misfired, but the puck broke through and Almeida was just able to get a stick on it to light the lamp. Captain Ashton Rome had the second assist.
In the third period Worcester was again carrying the play, but a poor pass along the Monarchs blue line and an even poorer attempt to play the puck allowed Manchester forward Zac Lynch to pick up the loose puck and beat McAdam on the breakaway at 2:58 of the third period.
The Railers continued to press the Monarchs, and at 13:47 looked to tie it when Patrick McNally banged home the puck after a long, wild scramble in front of the Manchester net. Referee Rouillard, who looked to be in perfect position, quickly waved off the goal saying it was kicked in. The video replay shown on the scoreboard clearly shows Rome kicking the puck, and you can also see McNally touching the puck afterwards.
As has been mentioned before, the ECHL does not use video replay.
Spencer Watson tacked on an empty net goal for the Monarchs at 18:15, and that turned out to be the game winner as Kellen Jones rifled one past Komm with 32.9 seconds remaining in regulation, with assists going to McNally and Cornell, to get the Railers within one. But that was as close as they’d get as Manchester held on for the 5-4 win.
The two teams play again Sunday in Manchester at 6pm.
Scratches for the Railers were Frankie DiChiara, Matt Gaudreau (21-day IR/foot), Josh Monk (21-day IR/undisclosed). Mitch Gillam was the back-up goaltender.
With forward Chris Langkow signing a PTO with the Hartford Wolf Pack on Thursday Worcester entered the game Saturday missing their top scorer. They weren’t the only one missing a key component as Manchester was without their two top scorers against the Railers. Kevin Morris had five goals in seven games against Worcester before being signed to a PTO by the Binghamton Devils on December 4th, and Tony Cameranesi had five points in five games vs the Railers before his PTO with the Utica Comets on December 14th.
Saturday’s game was the start of a home-and-home against the Monarchs, and it’s already the eighth time this season the Railers will play an opponent at least twice in a row. If you think that’s a lot, a look at the schedule shows that providing there’s no weather postponements Worcester will play opponents at least two games in a row 16 times this season. For comparison, both the IceCats and Sharks averaged seven times a season. The current record, such as it is, is ten in the 1996-97 season for the IceCats and in the 2010-11 season for the WorSharks.
Railers goaltender Eamon McAdam had 24 saves in the game, and if there was such a thing you could credit Kyle McKenzie and Patrick McNally with saves of their own. Both were able to sweep pucks away from the goal line after shots trickled past McAdam. Statistically those count as blocked shots and the shooters, despite being mere inches from scoring, don’t even get credit for shots on goal.
Upon further review…while the two goals scored by Reading’s Michael Huntebrinker and Jimmy DeVito seven seconds apart Thursday night are the fastest two goals scored against the Railers this season, they aren’t the quickest two goals scored in a Worcester game. That record would be the five seconds between Railers captain Aston Rome’s goal and Manchester’s Michael Doherty’s goal in the second period on opening night, October 14th.
The three stars of the game were:
1) Woody Hudson (Railers #23) 2 goals
2) Zac Lynch (Manchester #16) goal
3) Sam Kurker (Manchester #15) goal
The TWIW Player of the Game was Ashton Rome.
Even Strength Lines
Manchester 1 2 2 – 5
Worcester 1 2 1 – 4
1st Period-1, Worcester, Hudson 9 (Cornell, Saracino), 9:40. 2, Manchester, Kurker 11 (Kolomatis, LaVallee-Smotherman), 11:46 (PP). Penalties-Kurker Man (hooking), 0:31; Almeida Wor (tripping), 11:11.
2nd Period-3, Worcester, Hudson 10 (Masella, Murphy), 1:38 (PP). 4, Manchester, Doherty 6 (Buckles, Kolomatis), 9:24 (PP). 5, Manchester, Beauchemin 1 (Leitner), 13:26. 6, Worcester, Almeida 8 (Syner, Rome), 19:03. Penalties-Beauchemin Man (interference), 1:32; Saucerman Man (hooking), 7:13; Hudson Wor (hooking), 8:16.
3rd Period-7, Manchester, Lynch 15 2:58. 8, Manchester, Watson 3 (LaVallee-Smotherman, Privitera), 18:15 (EN). 9, Worcester, Jones 6 (McNally, Cornell), 19:27. Penalties-Nemcik Man (boarding), 6:06.
Shots on Goal-Manchester 6-13-6-25. Worcester 13-8-13-34.
Power Play Opportunities-Manchester 2 / 2; Worcester 1 / 4.
Goalies-Manchester, Komm 4-4-2-0 (34 shots-30 saves). Worcester, McAdam 7-7-2-2 (24 shots-20 saves).
Referees-Steven Rouillard (13).
Linesmen-Kyle Richtelle (73), Dan Panciocco (59).