With the Worcester Railers inaugural season coming to a close it’s time to move on to the end of season paperwork. Up first was the “TWIW Player of the Year” announcement. Next are the “210 Awards”.
For those new to the “210 Awards”, they are a mix of serious and (hopefully) slightly humorous awards named for the moniker this writer uses on many message boards. This season’s winners are:
Best Forward: Barry Almeida is the winner for this season, and when you have a player that leads the team in goals, assists, and points he makes the choice an easy one to make. Had Chris Langkow not gotten hurt there might have been a race for this.
Best Defenseman: In a tough contest Mike Cornell comes out on top. Sometimes stats don’t tell the whole story, and even though Cornell led the Railers in plus-minus that wasn’t really what he made him the best. Patrick McNally likely would have won this by a country mile had he not left for Europe, but he did so Cornell gets the win.
Tough Guy Award: It’s not always about fighting that makes you the winner here, but this season it played a huge role as Yanick Turcotte gets the nod. Turcotte was not only was the team’s best fighter, he was also one of its hardest hitters. It’s also possible Turcotte could be “too tough”, and he might actually need to tone it down a touch to be successful at the next level.
Best Single Game Performance: There really wasn’t much of a contest here, as Mitch Gillam making 11 saves on 12 attempts against in the shootout against the Adirondack Thunder on March 11th is the runaway winner. The fact he made many of those saves look easy still boggles my mind.
Most Improved: With this being the inaugural campaign for the Railers I wasn’t even certain this should be a thing for this season, but upon reflection it does seem like there is actually a clear cut winner: Nick Saracino. If you watched him in the early season and then again in the playoffs you’d wonder if it was the same player. That’s why he wins.
Seventh Player Award: Six weeks ago I was adamant about who the winner should be, and even though I wavered a bit in recent days I’m going with my initial assessment and giving this to defenseman Connor Doherty. He went from a bit player to an integral part of the defense mid-season as recalls and injuries took their toll on the defensive corps.
Best Mid-season Addition: To be successful in the ECHL organizations have to come up with good players to join the teams to remain competitive. Ryan MacKinnon had two goals and seven assists in nine games starting with his arrival in late February, earning him an AHL deal for the remainder of the season and next, and a recall to the Sound Tigers. That’s pretty much the definition of “best”.
Rookie of the Year: Mitch Gillam is the easy winner here, not just for his play on the ice but also for being the only Railers player named to any of the ECHL’s all-league teams for his mention on the ECHL’s All-Rookie team.
Most Valuable Player: As usual, this one gets the input of several others to make sure the right player gets chosen, and the near universal choice was Chris Langkow. A knee injury derailed his, and maybe the Railers, season and one can only imagine how it would have all would have turned out had he been able to play.
The 210Sports Player of the Year: Mitch Gillam, for being named 210Sports “Railers Player of the Week” most often.
So now that we’ve gotten the serious awards out of the way, here’s a few that this writer thinks should be handed out…
The “Two-By-Two Award”: Barry Almeida, for each having the most penalty minutes (36) without a major.
The “Iron Man Award”: To no one, as no Railers player played in all 72 regular season games this season. Honorable mention goes to Kyle McKenzie, who played in 71 of 72 games.
The “Man In The Box Award”: Woody Hudson, for being the reason Worcester was shorthanded when a power play goal was scored against them most often in the regular season (seven times).
The “Dead-Eye Award”: Justin Hamonic, for having the lowest shooting percentage of any player with 50 or more shots on goal (1.4%, 1 for 73).
The “Buzzer Beater Award”: Matt Lane, for his goal with 9 seconds left regulation March 23, 2018 at Reading.
The “78 Award”: Railers head coach Jamie Russell, for correctly filling out the lineup card in all 78 regular season and playoff games. As longtime Worcester hockey fans will tell you, that’s not something that happened often over the last few years of the WorSharks.
The “Keep Your Hat On” Award: Woody Hudson, for being the first Railers player penalized for playing without his helmet on.
The “First Award”: To Joe Fallon for not only being the first Railers signed player ever, but for also being the first Railers signed player to be cut.
The “It’s not how many, it’s when” Award: Justin Hamonic, whose one goal this season was an extra attacker goal that got the Railers to overtime. They eventually won.
The “Rejected Award”: Former WorSharks forward Curt Gogol, whose trade to Worcester from Greenville was voided by the ECHL due to a failed physical.
The “Don’t Rush Me Award”: To the unknown NHL employee that took four months to approve goaltender Mitch Gillam’s new pants.
The “Best Twitter Handle Award”: Looked like a two horse race between Woody Hudson (@Morning_woody13) and Ben Masella (@chickenmasella), but short-timer Dwyer Tschantz swooped in and steals it with “@Washer_Dwyer”. Tschantz’ reward was being cut at the end of the regular season.
The “Iowa Award”: Tommy Panico. No, we don’t get it either.
The “Whose Jersey Is This Award”: To Willie Raskob, Chris Saracino, Kyle Schempp, and Maurizio Colella for all wearing the #15 in a game this season.
The “Total Class” Award: To the Utah Grizzlies, for coming off the bench to wish Tommy Kelley well after that scary crash into the end boards.
The “Time-And-A-Half Award”: Matt Lane, for scoring the franchise’s first overtime goal on January 12th.
The “Mike Moore Award”: Yanick Turcotte, for the player that gives 100% every single shift no matter the score or the situation.
The “David Haas Award”: The award that goes to the player with the most talent that uses the least of it will once again sit on the shelf gathering dust. And if this team is representative of the kind of players GM Jamie Russell will be signing, we may never award the coveted Haas again.