The Worcester Railers started their five game home stand off on the wrong foot Tuesday with a loss to Toledo, and were looking for better things in their first of three consecutive match-ups with the Reading Royals Friday night at the DCU Center.
Unlike Tuesday against the Walleye when the Railers had a hard time getting anything going, Worcester came out with all cylinders firing to start their tilt against Reading. Early on both squads had some great scoring chances, and while the ice was tilted toward the Railers end with the Royals having an edge in shots both goaltenders had to make key saves early to keep the game scoreless.
It was a Reading turnover that got the Railers on the board when Woody Hudson intercepted a clearing pass and beat Royals netminder Mark Dekanich clean at 17:07 for the 1-0 lead. Yanick Turcotte was credited with an assist on the goal.
Unfortunately for Worcester Reading would get the equalizer with just 30 seconds remaining in the opening period when Ryan Penny fired a wrist shot through traffic that deflected a couple times and then went past a screened Eamon McAdam.
In the second period the Railers really put the pedal to the floor, out shooting Reading 11-5 and controlling the play for most of the period. Their hard effort would pay off twice in the middle stanza.
With Worcester really pressing in the Royals zone Matt Lane found himself right in front all by his lonesome with a yawning net in front of him. Lane slightly misfired, ringing the puck hard off the near post. As Lane stood there in disbelief the puck bounced across the crease and out to Patrick McNally, who blasted one home for the 2-1 lead. Matthew Gaudreau had the second assists.
A little later Frankie DiChiara and Jeff Kubiak broke into the Reading zone on an odd man rush. DiChiara got a step on the defense, and deflected Kubiak’s pass out of the air and into the net at 7:05 for the two goal lead.
In the third period Worcester continued to press, and Gaudreau would give the Railers a three goal lead at 4:08 when he took a Chris Langkow feed and streaked down the left wing side. Gaudreau cut toward the net by the face-off circle, and fired a short side shot that found an opening between the post and Dekanich that wasn’t much bigger than the puck.
Reading would make it interesting with a goal at 7:52 to get back within two, but McAdam slammed the door shut the rest of the way for a Railers 4-2 victory.
These same two teams play again at the DCU Center Saturday at 7:05pm.
Scratches for the Railers were Barry Almeida, Connor Doherty (21-day injured reserve), Ryan Lannon, Josh Monk (undisclosed injury), Chris Saracino, and T.J. Syner. Mitch Gillam was the back-up goaltender. Head coach Jamie Russell went with a line-up of 11 forwards and five defensemen.
The Railers had a handful of transactions over the past week, starting with Matthew Gaudreau arriving on the Magic Bus from Bridgeport. Gaudreau, the brother of Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau, had an assist in five games with the Sound Tigers to start the season.
On Thursday the Railers activated Nick Saracino from reserve and placed Connor Doherty on the 21-day injured reserve list retroactive to 10/29. The Railers also added Barry Almeida to the reserve list. On Friday the Railers signed defenseman Chris Saracino, Nick’s brother, to a contract. Chris Saracino had been retired for several seasons prior to signing the deal.
As expected, the ice issues of Tuesday were fixed by Friday night. Last weekend while the Railers were on the road “Disney on Ice” was held at the DCU Center, and the switch over back to hockey didn’t go exactly to plan. Almost every stoppage in play Tuesday against Toledo saw the linesmen making repairs to the ice. That was not the case on Friday as all appeared to be fine.
Defenseman Patrick McNally continues to show he’s likely too good to be sticking around the ECHL for much longer. He currently leads the Railers in goals (5), points (9), and power play goals (2). His +11 rating leads the entire ECHL. At some point one of the closer AHL franchises will need a defenseman, and odds are they’ll be calling on McNally.
The three stars of the game were
1) Matthew Gaudreau (Railers #8): goal, assist
2) Patrick McNally (Railers #4): goal, assist
3) Eamon McAdam (Railers #39): 33 saves
The TWIW Player of the Game was Woody Hudson.
Even Strength Lines:
Hudson rotated through the lines
Turcotte played sparingly
All defensemen rotated pairings
Reading 1 0 1 – 2
Worcester 1 2 1 – 4
1st Period-1, Worcester, Hudson 2 (Turcotte), 17:07. 2, Reading, Penny 4 (Swavely), 19:30 (PP). Penalties-Saracino Wor (slashing), 7:21; Hudson Wor (hooking), 18:15.
2nd Period-3, Worcester, McNally 5 (Lane, Gaudreau), 5:08. 4, Worcester, DiChiara 2 (Kubiak, McNally), 7:05. Penalties-Hora Rea (interference), 2:43; Penny Rea (slashing), 9:06.
3rd Period-5, Worcester, Gaudreau 1 (Langkow), 4:08. 6, Reading, Naclerio 2 (Krushelnyski, Schmidt), 7:52 (PP). Penalties-Langkow Wor (slashing), 5:53; McNally Wor (hooking), 8:40.
Shots on Goal-Reading 15-5-15-35. Worcester 8-11-9-28.
Power Play Opportunities-Reading 2 / 4; Worcester 0 / 2.
Goalies-Reading, Dekanich 2-1-0-0 (28 shots-24 saves). Worcester, McAdam 2-0-1-0 (35 shots-33 saves).
Referees-Alex Normandin (26).
Linesmen-Kyle Richtelle (73), Brent Colby (38).