WORCESTER – The Worcester Railers continued their best of seven Kelly Cup playoff series Saturday night against the Adirondack Thunder trailing 1-0, hoping that the home ice of the DCU Center would help them to even the series.
Worcester began the game not having scored a goal in 124:17 of game play going back into the regular season, and after a scoreless opening twenty minutes it was starting to look like the Railers would need a lucky bounce to get things rolling.
It wasn’t like they didn’t have chances in the first period, they actually had the best opportunity of the stanza just 3:30 into the contest when Matt Lane broke in all alone on Thunder goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood. Lane made a great move but Blackwood was able to flash the right pad out at the last season to spoil the bid.
In the second period the Railers did in fact get that lucky bounce they were looking for when Dylan Willick and Woody Hudson crashed the side of the Adirondack net fighting for control of a loose puck. Blackwood thought he had the near post covered, but Hudson was able to jam the puck home at 7:40 to give Worcester its first lead of the series. Yanick Turcotte had the second assist on the play.
A little later things started to get chippy, and after a couple minutes of both teams pushing and shoving things seemed to calm down until Turcotte stepped off the bench. The altercation flared up a bit, and Turcotte challenged the Thunder bench to join him on the ice to settle the matter. There were no takers, and while the linesmen were escorting Turcotte to the penalty box Turcotte began flapping his arms like a chicken toward the Adirondack players, much to the delight of the home fans in attendance.
It stayed a one goal game, mostly thanks to Railers netminder Mitch Gillam, until late in the third period when Hudson took an ill-advised roughing minor, giving Adirondack a power play with 2:33 left in regulation. They would eventually pull Blackwood to skate with a six on four advantage, but Barry Almeida eliminated all the suspense when he collected a loose puck and skated in alone on the empty net, scoring with 46 seconds remaining for the 2-0 Worcester win to even the series at a game a piece..
Game three of the series is Sunday at 5pm at the DCU Center.
Scratches for the Railers were Frankie DiChiara, Chris Langkow (21-day IR/lower body), and Kyle McKenzie (unknown injury). Eamon McAdam was the back-up goaltender. Captain Mike Cornell was not on the Worcester bench for the third period, which could be an issue for Sunday.
Despite the now 21 year pro hockey history in Worcester playoff success has been essentially unheard of in these parts. Between the IceCats and WorSharks they reached the second round only six times, and neither franchise made it to round three. In fact, it has been almost eight years since since a Worcester team has led in a playoff series, that being the WorSharks 1-0 lead over the Manchester Monarchs in the 2010 AHL Calder Cup Divisional Finals when they won 4-3 on April 25th. Before tonight that was also the last time a Worcester pro team won a playoff game at the DCU Center.
With the win Worcester pro hockey teams are now 10-10 in game twos in playoff series. While that record isn’t good the city pro hockey teams have had much worse game threes, going 7-12 in those contests.
Taking a look at some of the Worcester pro career playoff records, the IceCats’ Jame Pollock leads the way with 23 career points. Bob Lachance and Dan DaSilva tie for second at 18, with DaSilva holding the WorSharks career mark. Pollock also holds the goals record of nine, the assists record of 14, and the games played record of 33. Frazer McLaren has the penalty minute mark at 87. For goaltender wins Brent Johnson leads the way at eight.
The three stars of the game were
1) Mitch Gillam (Railers #35), 14 save shutout win
2) Woody Hudson (Railers #23), goal
3) Yanick Turcotte (Railers #20), assist
The TWIW Player of the Game was Connor Doherty.
Even strength lines
Saracino / Kubiak / Almeida
Randolph / Lane / Gaudreau
Syner / Willick / Hudson
MacKinnon / Cornell
Doherty / Hamonic
Panico / Masella
Adirondack 0 0 0 – 0
Worcester 0 1 1 – 2
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties
2nd Period-1, Worcester, Hudson 1 (Willick, Turcotte), 7:40. Penalties-Rodrigues Adk (cross-checking), 8:37; Hudson Wor (high-sticking), 10:23; Riley Adk (roughing), 12:27; Doherty Wor (roughing), 12:27; Turcotte Wor (roughing), 12:27; Riley Adk (holding), 18:17.
3rd Period-2, Worcester, Almeida 1 19:14 (SH EN). Penalties-Masella Wor (boarding), 9:28; Hudson Wor (roughing), 17:23.
Shots on Goal-Adirondack 4-6-4-14. Worcester 10-11-6-27.
Power Play Opportunities-Adirondack 0 / 4; Worcester 0 / 2.
Goalies-Adirondack, Blackwood (26 shots-25 saves). Worcester, Gillam (14 shots-14 saves).
Referees-Matt Menniti (10), Peter Schlittenhardt (23).
Linesmen-AJ Potvin (78), Nathan Frechette (30).