With the Worcester Railers beginning a three game set in Reading, Pennsylvania against the Royals Saturday night at Santander Arena they were hoping to ride the wave of momentum from their shootout win in Adirondack the night before.
Unfortunately for the Railers it was Reading controlling play the entire opening twenty minutes, outshooting Worcester 13-2. Luckily for the Railers the Royals only got one past Worcester goaltender Eamon McAdam in the period when Ryan Penny grabbed a rebound of his own shot and stickhandled around a down and out McAdam, putting the puck into a yawning net at 4:59.
It was more of the same for the first few minutes of the second period, but slowly the Railers picked up their play. Worcester finally broke through at 9:17 of the period with McAdam off for an extra attacker while referee Stan Szczurek was signaling a delayed penalty on Reading. As play went on Barry Almeida collected the puck along the goal line and fed Kellen Jones on the right wing. Jones’ shot beat Royals netminder Mark Dekanich for the 1-1 game. Connor Doherty had the secondary assist.
Both squads came out battling in the third period looking for the two points, and play had a “next goal wins” feel to it. As has happened many times this season, a couple bad calls went against Worcester and the puck ended up in the Railers net. First the linesmen ruled icing on Worcester despite Yanick Turcotte winning the race to the circles, and then on the ensuing referee Szczurek allowed a shot deflected by Chris McCarthy that appeared to be over the crossbar to count as a goal at 13:33.
They say baseball is a game of inches, but the Railers proved that applies to hockey too as it was an inch that saved Worcester and led to their tying goal. Reading forward Scott Tanski had a yawning net in front of him, but his shot somehow hit the post and bounded away instead of rolling in. Just seconds later Matt Lane scored at the other end off a nice feed by T.J. Syner at 14:58. Ben Masella has the second assist.
Just as it looked like Worcester would be heading to overtime for their third straight game the Railers broke into the Royals zone on an odd man rush, where Frankie DiChiara fired a laser over Dekanich and under the crossbar with 22 seconds remaining, with assists to Jeff Kubiak and Masella, for the 3-2 win.
These same two teams play again Sunday at 4pm.
Scratches for the Railers were Brock Beukeboom (healthy), Matt Gaudreau (21-day IR/foot), Josh Monk (21-day IR/undisclosed). Mitch Gillam was the back-up goaltender.
Worcester arrived in Reading after their “mad dash” from Adirondack at 3:30am Saturday. The team did not have a morning skate. With the Railers also playing the Royals on Sunday and Wednesday they’ll have plenty of time to get rested between each game. The team has already announced there will be no morning skate Sunday either.
Former Worcester Sharks and Holy Cross College forward Adam Schmidt was a scratch for Reading, as he has been since being elbowed in the face on December 30th by defenseman Mike Bergin of the Adirondack Thunder. Bergin was not suspended for the incident. Schmidt played 14 games for the WorSharks during the 2013-14 season after finishing his four year career with the Crusaders. He went on to play three seasons in the HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden’s version of the AHL, before returning to North America with the Royals this season.
With the Railers now having played six games that went to overtime it’s become clear that head coach Jamie Russell is going to be very aggressive in the extra session. Many times he has three forwards on the ice, generally only using a defenseman for draws in the Worcester zone. Russell’s use of three forwards increased after the departure of Patrick McNally, so it’s probably safe to say it’s going to become the norm instead of the exception.
Taking a look at three Railers, all defensemen, currently playing in the AHL…Mike Cornell, who was recalled to Bridgeport on New Year’s Day has played just one game for the Sound Tigers, going scoreless. Chris Langkow, who signed a PTO with the Hartford Wolf Pack on December 28th, has a goal and an assist in four games. Patrick Cullity, who was assigned to Worcester by Bridgeport to get into playing shape, has an assist in four games.
With two assists on the night Ben Masella had his first multiple point night as a pro, and Connor Doherty notched his pro first assist. Combined with his first goal Friday night Doherty has his first pro scoring streak.
The three stars of the game were
1) Frankie DiChiara (Railers #17) game winning goal
2) Chris McCarthy (Reading #3) goal
3) Eamon McAdam (Railers #39) win, 34 saves
The TWIW Player of the Game was Ben Masella.
Worcester 0 1 2 – 3
Reading 1 0 1 – 2
1st Period-1, Reading, Penny 10 (Cleland, Naclerio), 4:59. Penalties-McCarthy Rea (slashing), 12:18; Gammage Wor (tripping), 19:13.
2nd Period-2, Worcester, Jones 7 (Almeida, Doherty), 9:17. Penalties-No Penalties
3rd Period-3, Reading, McCarthy 10 (Zajac, Hora), 13:33. 4, Worcester, Lane 2 (Syner, Masella), 14:58. 5, Worcester, DiChiara 4 (Kubiak, Masella), 19:38. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Worcester 2-15-10-27. Reading 13-13-10-36.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 0 / 1; Reading 0 / 1.
Goalies-Worcester, McAdam 8-7-3-2 (36 shots-34 saves). Reading, Dekanich 8-11-1-0 (27 shots-24 saves).
Referees-Stan Szczurek (15).
Linesmen-Zach Roberts (84), Jason Mandroc (73).