Last Sunday saw the Worcester Railers holding another members event, this time it was taking in a game in Manchester as the Monarchs faced the Elmira Jackals. I really had no intent of making a posting about it, but so many people that couldn’t make it because of the date switch have asked me questions that I figure making one was in order.
The one thing that those that have never seen an ECHL game wanted to know was how good was the hockey. To answer that with any certainty after just one game would be silly, but I can say I was thoroughly entertained despite the obvious disparity in talent between Manchester and the Jackals.
Casual hockey fans won’t notice a significant difference between the AHL and ECHL. The game is fast paced, although plays do take a little longer to develop. The passing isn’t as crisp as the AHL, but that led to defenders being able to grab loose pucks and send their own forwards off racing towards the offensive end.
One thing I was concerned about was the shorter game roster in the ECHL, where they dress 16 skaters instead of the 18 AHL fans are used to. It really didn’t seem to be an issue, even for Elmira who was playing their third game in as many nights.
Hockey at every level eventually comes down to goaltending, and after just watching that single game I can tell it’s very important in the ECHL. The teams combined for 65 shots, and a lot of them were pretty decent attempts. To say the goalies were busy would be an understatement. Looking at the ECHL listing of team shots per game it looks like goalies are busy every game.
Another difference fans might notice is the ECHL is a single referee league. Unlike the AHL which uses two referees in about half its games, the ECHL only uses two refs in the playoffs. There’s also no video review in the ECHL, although considering the number of times AHL referees still got it wrong looking at the video it’s not like it’s that much of a difference.
The game presentation in Manchester was the same style as they had when they were in the AHL, and while the Railers obviously haven’t finalized anything in that area fans should expect it too look a lot like it did under the WorSharks.
All in all it was a great event (I promised not to mention it was the third Railers event to be impacted by the weather…ooops, oh well), and now with that fresh taste of pro hockey it really makes October seem a long way away.