The Worcester Railers visited the Reading Royals for a pair of games at the Santander Arena knowing they needed to keep earning point to continue to improve their chances to qualify for the ECHL’s Kelly Cup Playoffs.
Worcester would go on the power play after Royals newcomer Jack Riley got called for tripping in the opening minute of the period, and at 1:06 Mike Cornell blasted one from the right circle through a screen and past Reading goaltender Branden Komm. Frankie DiChiara and Jake Randolph had the assists on the play.
Later in the period Kyle McKenzie stood up for Cornell after his defensive partner took a late hit and was sent off for roughing, and the Royals capitalized with a power play goal of their own when Chris McCarthy ripped a one-time pass from Nolan Zajac over the glove of Railers netminder Mitch Gillam at 10:58. Former WorSharks and Holy Cross forward Adam Schmidt had the secondary assist.
It was a scoreless second period, and it looked like it was going to be another scoreless frame in the third until 15:31 of the final stanza when Josh Holmstrom skated down the right wing side and threw a lazy shot on net that somehow broke through Komm for the 2-1 Worcester lead.
Just a few moments later Woody Hudson was boarded by Reading defender Frank Hora. Hudson and Cornell made a move to confront Hora, but both seeing referee Jesse Gour’s arm up to call a penalty each skated away. That turned out to be a good thing as at 17:35 Barry Almeida would become the Railers first 20 goal scorer when he banked one in off Komm from behind the net to make it a 3-1 lead. Nick Saracino had the only helper on the play.
Reading would go on to pull Komm for an extra attacker, and Matt Lane would hit the empty net with nine seconds remaining for the 4-1 final. Saracino picked up his second point of the game with the assist. The 43 Worcester shots in the contest set a new franchise mark for a road game.
These same two clubs play again Saturday night.
Scratches for the Railers were Tommy Kelley (21-day IR/upper body), Chris Langkow (lower body), Josh Monk (21-day IR/upper body). Will King was the back-up goaltender. After Friday’s game there was some player movement between Worcester and the Sound Tigers, with Bridgeport assigning forward Josh Holmstrom and defenseman Patrick Cullity to Worcester and recalling forwards Yanick Turcotte and Jeff Kubiak. Both Kubiak and Turcotte played for the Sound Tigers in Syracuse Friday night.
Other than mentioning he’s doing well the Railers haven’t issued any updates on Tommy Kelley, and at this point there likely won’t be more. Worcester did add Kelley to the 21-day Injured Reserve List earlier in the week.
Playoff update: With Worcester and Wheeling both winning the Railers “tragic number”, the combination of points Wheeling earns and Worcester fails to gain, falls to 13. If that number hits zero, Worcester is officially eliminated from the playoff hunt. If the number ends at one it would go to a tiebreaker between the Nailers and Railers. The tie-breakers is regulation/overtime wins, and Wheeling has the edge over Worcester. Worcester has two games in hand over the Nailers. According to Sports Club Stats, the chance the Railers make the ECHL playoffs is now approximately 27%.
It should be noted that the Railers are actually closing in on the Reading Royals in the divisional standings, and should Worcester beat Reading in regulation on Saturday there will be a whole different set of numbers involved in the Railers making the Kelly Cup playoffs.
In Reading they play both the American and Canadian national anthems before each game, and in Friday’s contest Railers broadcaster Eric Lindquist sang the Canadian anthem. Lindquist and Royals broadcaster David Fine wagered on the outcome of the February 3rd meeting between the clubs. Worcester won, so Lindquist got to sing the anthem. Had Reading won the game Fine would have appeared in a “Two Things With Tom” with Tom Matthews.
Upon further review…Wednesday’s 1-0 shootout loss by the Railers marked just the third time in Worcester pro hockey history a game went scoreless into the shootout. The IceCats lost 1-0 in a shootout to the Hershey Bears on December 3, 2004, and the WorSharks beat the Manchester Monarchs November 4, 2012. Prior to the 2003-2004 season games in the AHL could end in ties, and the IceCats had three games that ended 0-0. The first was on March 25, 2001 at Saint John Flames, and the last two both happened in the ’03-04 season, January 9 at the Houston Aeros and April 10 against the Providence Bruins.
The three stars of the game were
1) Josh Holmstrom (Railers #11) game winning goal
2) Branden Komm (Reading #1), 39 saves
3) Mitch Gillam (Railers #35), win, 29 saves
The TWIW Player of the Game was Barry Almeida.
Even strength lines
Saracino / Syner / Almeida
Randolph / Lane / Hudson
DiChiara / Holmstrom / Gaudreau
Masella / Cornell
Doherty / Hamonic
McKenzie / Cullity
Worcester 1 0 3 – 4
Reading 1 0 0 – 1
1st Period-1, Worcester, Cornell 3 (DiChiara, Randolph), 1:02 (PP). 2, Reading, McCarthy 19 (Zajac, Schmidt), 10:58 (PP). Penalties-Riley Rea (tripping), 0:41; McKenzie Wor (roughing), 10:28; Masella Wor (slashing), 16:45.
2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Riley Rea (hooking), 3:26; Lane Wor (tripping), 8:02; Almeida Wor (tripping), 18:58.
3rd Period-3, Worcester, Holmstrom 1 15:31. 4, Worcester, Almeida 20 (Saracino), 17:35 (PP). 5, Worcester, Lane 13 (Saracino), 19:51 (EN). Penalties-Liljegren Rea (tripping), 2:06; Golightly Rea (delay of game), 8:52; Hora Rea (boarding), 16:14.
Shots on Goal-Worcester 11-16-16-43. Reading 13-9-8-30.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 2 / 5; Reading 1 / 4.
Goalies-Worcester, Gillam 18-13-0-2 (30 shots-29 saves). Reading, Komm 14-9-3-0 (42 shots-39 saves).
Referees-Jesse Gour (24).
Linesmen-JP Waleski (51), Tyler Loftus (72)