MANCHESTER – The Worcester Railers headed an hour north to the Granite State to take on the Manchester Monarchs, and behind a 28 save performance by rookie goaltender Mitch Gillam the Railers won their first ever road game 2-0 in front of an announced crowd of 3,019 at the SNHU Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire.
After a fairly uneventful first period where the Monarchs out shot the Railers 9-6, Worcester found themselves in the unenviable position of having to kill a full two minute five on three penalty when captain Ashton Rome was penalized for holding and while play was going on during the delayed call Barry Almeida got caught slashing at 7:54 of period number two.
Luckily for Worcester, Manchester couldn’t get anything going during the two minute, two man advantage, and amazingly enough while two men down it was the Railers who had the best chance during the penalty kills when Chris Lankow went in to the offensive zone all alone, but he was forced in too deep by the Monarchs defense and couldn’t get a quality attempt off.
Later in the period the Railers would have a two man advantage of their own for almost 90 seconds, but they also couldn’t generate any significant chances.
To the third period the squads went in a scoreless tie, where veteran defenseman Mike Cornell got Worcester on the board with a 60 foot wrist shot through traffic to give the Railers a 1-0 lead 5:27 into the third period. Fans on the far end of the building said it hit at least one player on the way through to the net, so we’ll see if a scoring change is eventually made.
Manchester continued its attack against Gillam and the Railers, but with Monarchs goaltender Charles Williams pulled for an extra attacker Rome found the yawning net from well beyond the center ice line with 59 seconds to go in regulation to give the Railers the eventual 2-0 lead.
Scratches for the Railers were Connor Doherty, Matt Lane, Ben Masella, Eamon McAdam (lower body), and Nick Saracino (undisclosed injury). Joe Spagnoli, who was signed as an emergency back-up goaltender and wore jersey #1, looked spectacular opening and closing the bench door.
On Tuesday, the Railers traded defenseman Willie Raskob to the Quad City Mallards for cash considerations. With an assist in a single game played for Worcester Raskob joins Danny Eberly (goal), Chris Blight (2 assists), and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (2 assists) as the only players in Worcester pro hockey history to record a point in one regular season game played.
With the shutout, Mitch Gillam joins Daren Machesney as the only goaltenders to record a shutout in their first game with Worcester. Machesney had an interesting tenure with the WorSharks, recording two shutouts while compiling a 2-2-1-1 record in six games.
Defenseman Ryan Lannon made his debut with the Railers, becoming the fourth Worcester pro to play for two different franchises in the city. He joins teammate Ashton Rome (WorSharks and Railers), and defensemen Patrick Traverse and Brendan Buckley, who both played for the Worcester IceCats and WorSharks.
About a minute into the third period it appeared the Railers had taken the lead when Wade Murphy lit the lamp, but after a brief conversation with his linesmen referee Matt Menniti ruled “no goal”. There was no announcement as to why the goal was waved off, which is technically a violation of ECHL rules. From this writer’s vantage point there did not appear to be any reason why the goal shouldn’t have counted.
The Monarchs seemed to have the edge in play most of the way until the 12;23 mark of the middle stanza when Worcester’s Yanick Turcotte dropped the gloves with the Monarchs Colton Saucerman. From that point on the Railers out shot Manchester 12-9, and easily out-chanced the home town team. It wouldn’t be hard to call it the turning point of the game.
There’s a long history between Worcester and Manchester, going back to the 2001-02 season when the Monarchs made their American Hockey League debut. Teams from Worcester have often struggled against Manchester, with the IceCats going 14-18-4 against the Monarchs in the pre-shootout era and the WorSharks going 41-45-4-6 . Worcester has also never beaten Manchester in a playoff series.
The three stars of the game were
1) Mitch Gillam (Railers #35), 28 save shutout
2) Mike Cornell (Railers #6), game winning goal
3) Charles Williams (Manchester #1), 19 saves
The TWIW Player of the Game is Wade Murphy.
Worcester 0 0 2 – 2
Manchester 0 0 0 – 0
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Cornell Wor (slashing), 8:55.
2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Almeida Wor (slashing), 7:54; Rome Wor (holding), 7:54; Turcotte Wor (fighting – major), 12:23; Saucerman Man (fighting – major), 12:23; Racine Man (tripping), 12:39; Ward Man (slashing), 13:16.
3rd Period-1, Worcester, Cornell 1 (Murphy), 5:27. 2, Worcester, Rome 2 19:01 (EN). Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Worcester 6-8-7-21. Manchester 9-10-9-28.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 0 / 2; Manchester 0 / 3.
Goalies-Worcester, Gillam 1-0-0-0 (28 shots-28 saves). Manchester, Williams 2-1-0-0 (20 shots-19 saves).
Referees-Matt Menniti (10).
Linesmen-Dan Panciocco (59), Kyle Richtelle (73).