(Note: this story was supposed to appear on “This Week in Worcester” on Christmas Eve, but a technical issue caused it to not be posted.)
For the fifth time in eleven days the Worcester Railers and Adirondack Thunder met on the ice, and with all the goings on during the third period Friday night all eyes were on the Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls, New York Saturday night for the expected fireworks between the teams.
Both squads were playing clean, physical hockey in the opening 20 minutes and it looked like Worcester was going to play another scoreless first period, but two often scratched Railers players getting an opportunity to play had other ideas. With Worcester on the forecheck Wade Murphy was able to steal the puck and get it over to Matt Lane. The second year pro then fired a shot from the left slot past Thunder goaltender Chris Nell for his first of the season at 15:05.
Thirty-nine seconds later Woody Hudson made it 2-0 with a blast from the left circle, with assists going to Frankie DiChiara and Jeff Kubiak. The 39 seconds between goals set a new franchise record.
The Railers then needed to kill a couple penalties, and late in the period with Nick Saracino in the box for a questionable slashing call Chris Langkow grabbed a loose puck and broke into the Adirondack zone all alone. He was fouled from behind and referee Olivier Gouin awarded him a penalty shot at 18:55. Langkow made the most of his prize, beating Nell with a backhander over the blocker for the 3-0 lead. The three goals in 3:50 was also a new franchise mark.
The second period would see a new goaltender in the Thunder net as Nick Riopel took over for Nell, marking the first time this season Worcester has chased a goalie from the game. In an attempt to fire up his team Adirondack defenseman Vytal Cote decided to fight Yanick Turcotte. As he has to almost all of his opponents Turcotte came out on top in the battle, with Cote having to go to the dressing room for repairs.
After a few big saves by Railers netminder Eamon McAdam, and one by defenseman Mike Cornell, the Thunder would get one into the net when Paul Rodrigues managed to sneak on past McAdam at 5:03.
That goal seemed to add some fire to Worcester, and they returned to a three goal lead with a nice goal by Barry Almeida at 8:16. Riopel made the save on a Cornell blast, but Langkow was able to grab the rebound and threw an easy pass to Almeida at the far post. Almeida pretty much had all 24 square feet to shoot at, and he didn’t miss.
In the third period the first half was fairly even between the two clubs, so when Lane was called for playing with a broken stick Adirondack head coach Brad Tapper pulled Riopel for the extra attacker down three goals, and Patrick McNally found the open net at 11:49 for the 5-1 lead.
The Thunder would add a couple of stat-killing goals late, with Ben Murphy scoring at 13:45 and Desmond Bergin at 18:41, but that would be too little, too late as the Railers went on to win 5-3.
Scratches for the Railers were Matt Gaudreau (21-day IR/ankle), Justin Hamonic (suspended), Josh Monk (21-day IR/undisclosed), and TJ Syner. Mitch Gillam was the back-up goaltender.
Hamonic was suspended one game by the ECHL for shooting the puck at Adirondack Thunder forward Conor Riley as time expired in Friday night’s 3-0 loss by the Railers. Hamonic was assessed a match penalty, which requires a player be suspended until the incident is reviewed by the league. Generally players without serious suspension histories receive just one game for incidents like Hamonic’s.
With Hamonic being suspended the Railers had only five healthy defensemen available. Head Coach Jamie Russel pressed captain Ashton Rome into service on the blue line. While Worcester hockey history is full of players who played both forward and defense at times in their career, only one other time where a pure forward was forced into playing defense comes to mind. During a 5-1 win over Portland on November 24, 2012 late in the third period three Worcester Sharks defenseman were either in the penalty box or ejected when a fourth, Matt Irwin, was called for hooking. WorSharks head coach Roy Sommer sent forward Frazer McLaren out paired with Matt Tennyson on the penalty kill. McLaren then got a shift or two at even strength as time wound down.
During December the Worcester Railers Booster Club raffled off player-signed Christmas ornaments to benefit the Worcester Junior Railers Mike Ellsessar Scholarship Fund. Mike Ellsessar was a player for the Mid-state Junior Sharks who passed away in 2010 after suffering cardiac arrest while playing in a high school football game. The ornament raffle, which ended Friday night, raised $1050.
Prior to the start of the Railers/Thunder tilt the Worcester Fire Department took on MacBoston hockey in a charity game to benefit The Last Call Foundation. According to their website, “The Last Call Foundation was founded by Kathy Crosby-Bell in honor of her son, fallen Firefighter Michael Kennedy, who along with Lieutenant Edward Walsh died battling the nine-alarm fire on March 26, 2014 in Boston’s Back Bay. This tragedy highlighted the unique challenges facing firefighters. The Last Call Foundation is committed to identifying and addressing these challenges to enhance firefighters’ ability to safely and effectively fight fires and protect each of us.” The WFD won the game 11-9.
The three stars of the game were
1) Eamon McAdam (Railers #39) win, 34 saves
2) Chris Langkow (Railers #21) goal, assist
3) Ben Murphy (Adirondack #8) goal, assist
The TWIW Player of the Game was Barry Almeida
Even strength lines
Rome played mostly with McNally
Worcester 3 1 1 – 5
Adirondack 0 1 2 – 3
1st Period-1, Worcester, Lane 1 (Murphy), 15:05. 2, Worcester, Hudson 7 (DiChiara, Kubiak), 15:43. 3, Worcester, Langkow 9 18:55 (SH PS). Penalties-Almeida Wor (high-sticking), 16:08; Saracino Wor (slashing), 18:43.
2nd Period-4, Adirondack, Rodrigues 4 (Riley, Bergin), 5:03. 5, Worcester, Almeida 7 (Langkow, Cornell), 8:16. Penalties-Turcotte Wor (fighting – major), 1:14; Cote Adk (fighting – major), 1:14; Loney Adk (slashing), 19:32.
3rd Period-6, Worcester, McNally 11 11:49 (SH EN). 7, Adirondack, Murphy 5 (Wallin, Riley), 13:45. 8, Adirondack, Bergin 6 (Murphy, Henry), 18:41. Penalties-Lane Wor (broken stick), 10:56.
Shots on Goal-Worcester 14-6-10-30. Adirondack 14-14-9-37.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 0 / 1; Adirondack 0 / 3.
Goalies-Worcester, McAdam 7-5-2-2 (37 shots-34 saves). Adirondack, Nell 1-2-0-0 (14 shots-11 saves); Riopel 8-9-1-0 (15 shots-14 saves).
Referees-Olivier Gouin (7).
Linesmen-Chris Provost (50), Matt Brady (42).