WORCESTER – It was a packed house at the DCU Center as 12,135 fans saw the return of professional hockey to Worcester as the Railers took on the Manchester Monarchs to kick off the Railers inaugural season.
Things began great for Worcester as they controlled the play early thanks to multiple penalties on the Monarchs, and at the 10:13 mark of the opening period Wade Murphy scored the first goal in Railers history. Both teams took turns turning the puck over, and Murphy was able to pick up the loose puck at center ice and break in all alone to light the lamp for Worcester.
In the second period the Railers made it a two goal lead when Barry Almeida’s initial shot went wide but landed right on the stick of teammate Ashton Rome. From about 30 feet out Rome fired a laser to the glove side that beat Manchester goaltender Evan Cowley clean at 5:43.
Unfortunately for Worcester the wheels suddenly came off as the Monarchs showed why they made it to the ECHL’s Eastern Conference Final last season. Five seconds after Rome’s goal Michael Doherty cut the Railers lead to one, and near the mid-point of the middle period Manchester scored twice in 35 seconds to take a 3-2 lead.
A great individual effort by defenseman Patrick McNally on the power play got the Railers back to even with just under four minutes remaining in the period. After Manchester had chipped the puck out of their zone T.J. Syner pushed the puck over to McNally. Seeing an opening in front of him McNally started from center ice and skated through all four Manchester penalty killers. and flipped the puck over Cowley.
In the third period both teams threw everything they had at each other, and it was a lucky bounce that gave the Railers the lead. Worcester had a couple nice chances but couldn’t capitalize, and as the Monarchs attempted to clear the puck defenseman McNally kept it in the offensive zone. He was able to work the puck toward the net, where Frankie DiChiara gathered the lose puck and banged it home for the eventual 4-3 Worcester win.
The Railers scratches were Ryan Lannon, Nick Saracino (undisclosed injury), Justin Hamonic (travel), Woody Hudson and Connor Doherty. Mitch Gillam was the back-up goaltender.
Railers General Manager and Head Coach Jamie Russell has said in numerous interviews that while developing players for the next level is important that real goal in the ECHL is to win, and based on the roster he’s put together you can tell he knows winning begets winning as 18 of the current 23 members of the team have won championships at the Junior, IIHF, NCAA, or professional levels.
With the first game played Railers Captain Ashton Rome became the third Worcester player to play for two different franchises in the city. Rome previously played 128 games over three seasons with the Worcester Sharks. The first two to play for two franchises, defensemen Patrick Traverse and Brendan Buckley, both played for the IceCats and WorSharks.
In other news on Rome, his uniform #88 is the highest worn in Worcester pro hockey history. That honor used to belong to former IceCats defenseman Jan Horacek, who wore #57. Brandon Mashinter wore the highest number of all the WorSharks with #53. In wearing the captain’s “C” Rome became the first player to wear a letter for two different franchises. He wore the alternate captain’s “A” for the WorSharks for a game during his rookie season.
With all the North American pro hockey seasons started a look at some of the rosters has 23 former Worcester professional players currently on NHL rosters, 12 on AHL rosters, and 18 in the ECHL. With the exception of former IceCats forward Trevor Gillies playing for South Carolina (ECHL), all the rest are former Worcester Sharks players.
The announced attendance of 12,135 is the most people to attend a Worcester pro hockey game since the days of the Worcester IceCats. Telegram & Gazette reporter Bill Ballou says it’s the fourth largest hockey crowd ever in Worcester, a fact he probably knew off the top of his head.
The three stars of the game were
1) Patrick McNally (Railers), goal, assist
2) Frankie DiChiara (Railers), gwg
3) Michael Doherty (Manchester) 2 goals
The TWIW player of the game was goaltender Eamon McAdam
Even strength lines
Manchester 0 3 0 – 3
Worcester 1 2 1 – 4
1st Period-1, Worcester, Murphy 1 (Jones, Cornell), 10:13 (PP). Penalties-Saucerman Man (slashing), 0:54; Agosta Man (slashing), 2:19; Raskob Wor (slashing), 4:55; Hamilton Man (interference), 5:55; served by LaVallee-Smotherman Man (bench – too many men), 8:20; Murphy Wor (slashing), 11:49; Turcotte Wor (charging), 16:55.
2nd Period-2, Worcester, Rome 1 (Almeida, Raskob), 5:43. 3, Manchester, Doherty 1 (Kurker), 5:48. 4, Manchester, Cameranesi 1 (Morris, LaVallee-Smotherman), 10:57. 5, Manchester, Doherty 2 (Ward), 11:32. 6, Worcester, McNally 1 (Syner), 16:06 (PP). Penalties-Turgeon Man (fighting – major), 3:27; Turcotte Wor (fighting – major), 3:27; Racine Man (tripping), 14:18; Wyszomirski Man (tripping), 17:32; Monk Wor (interference), 18:29.
3rd Period-7, Worcester, DiChiara 1 (McNally), 12:12. Penalties-Wyszomirski Man (fighting – major), 6:42; Turcotte Wor (illegal check to head, fighting – major), 6:42; Raskob Wor (cross-checking), 9:34; Syner Wor (tripping), 17:18.
Shots on Goal-Manchester 9-19-8-36. Worcester 11-6-14-31.
Power Play Opportunities-Manchester 0 / 7; Worcester 2 / 6.
Goalies-Manchester, Cowley 0-1-0-0 (31 shots-27 saves). Worcester, McAdam 1-0-0-0 (36 shots-33 saves).
Referees-Jesse Gour (24).
Linesmen-Kyle Richtelle (73), Dan Panciocco (59).