WORCESTER – The Worcester Railers hosted the Adirondack Thunder for a rare Monday night contest at the DCU Center in game six of their best of seven series hoping for a win to extend the series to a final game in Glens Falls on Wednesday
Things started off on the wrong foot for the Railers early when Paul Rodrigues collected a turnover in the neutral zone and broke in all alone on Worcester goaltender Eamon McAdam. Rodrigues threw a nice deke on McAdam, and then flipped a backhander over the netminder’s glove and in for an unassisted shorthanded goal at 8:27 of the first period.
As that same Railers power play was winding down Matty Gaudreau fired a shot on goal and then headed directly for the Worcester bench to be replaced by a defenseman. The puck deflected over to Barry Almeida, who fired a laser from the right wind circle past Thunder goaltender Olivier Mantha just as the power play expired at 9:09 to knot the game 1-1. Kellen Jones had the secondary assist.
The old hockey adage says a team should never give up a goal in the first and last minute of a period, and unfortunately for Worcester they did just that in the waning seconds of the opening period when Desmond Bergin beat McAdam up high from about 30 feet out. The puck hit the crossbar and bounded almost straight down. Despite the protests of the Railers the goal stood and it was 2-1 after one period.
While the ECHL does not have video replay of goals that didn’t stop Worcester from showing the disputed goal several times on the large Daktronics board. At full speed and in slow motion it was hard to tell if the puck actually crossed the goal line. Many folks from that end of the building and those sitting in the 200 sections all were convinced the puck did indeed cross the line.
Just before the start of the second period many of those assembled on press row watched a super slow motion replay, going frame by frame of the shot and goal. The puck definitely appears to land on its edge beyond the goal line. From this writer’s perspective, it was good goal.
From that point on it was a lot of Adirondack sitting on the lead and the Railers shooting themselves in the foot as they fell into some of the bad habits the team had earlier in the season. Worcester’s last gasp came as time was winding down in the third period, but a bad pass and a bouncing puck ended up on the stick of Mike Szmatula, whose unassisted empty net goal ended the Railers season with a 3-1 loss.
Scratches for Worcester were Frankie DiChiara, Chris Langkow (lower body), Tommy Panico, Jake Randolph, and T.J. Syner. Mitch Gillam was the back-up goaltender.
It’s shame the Railers couldn’t extend their season into the next round as Chris Langkow, who suffered a knee injury on March 17th, had recently started skating. He likely would not have been available for a game seven, but would probably been good to go at some point in the next series. You can add that to the list of “what could have been”.
Upon further review…Saturday’s win by the Railers included some Worcester pro hockey firsts, starting with the win itself being the first time a city team has won a playoff game after being down by three goals. Nick Saracino’s hat trick was the first playoff hat trick for a city pro team, and Eamon McAdam became the first Worcester pro goaltender to win a playoff game in relief.
The loss drops Worcester pro teams to 4-14 in elimination games, and to 2-6 in game sixes. Hopefully the 2018-19 season will see improvements in those numbers.
The three stars of the game were
1) Desmond Bergin (Adirondack #37), game winning goal
2) Barry Almeida (Railers #19), goal
3) Olivier Mantha (Adirondack #31), win
The TWIW Player of the Game was Matty Gaudreau.
Even strength lines
Jones / Kubiak / Almeida
Saracino / Holmstrom / Lane
Gaudreau / Willick / Hudson
MacKinnon / Cornell
Doherty / Hamonic
Masella / McKenzie
Adirondack 2 0 1 – 3
Worcester 1 0 0 – 1
1st Period-1, Adirondack, Rodrigues 2 8:27 (SH). 2, Worcester, Almeida 3 (Jones, Gaudreau), 9:09. 3, Adirondack, Bergin 1 (Szmatula), 19:57. Penalties-Riley Adk (slashing), 7:08.
2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Henry Adk (hooking), 5:01; MacKinnon Wor (slashing), 17:58; Kubiak Wor (cross-checking), 19:49.
3rd Period-4, Adirondack, Szmatula 2 19:15 (EN). Penalties-Almeida Wor (tripping), 3:04; Riley Adk (high-sticking), 5:52; White Adk (slashing), 13:08.
Shots on Goal-Adirondack 8-10-7-25. Worcester 6-12-10-28.
Power Play Opportunities-Adirondack 0 / 3; Worcester 0 / 4.
Goalies-Adirondack, Mantha (28 shots-27 saves). Worcester, McAdam (24 shots-22 saves).
Referees-Alex Garon (9), Jeremy Tufts (6).
Linesmen-Michael Fusani (41), Kyle Richtelle (73).