On Saturday night the Worcester Railers took on the expansion Maine Mariners in a preseason match-up at the Rinks At Exeter in Exeter, New Hampshire in the only exhibition game the Railers would play this season, and behind an impressive offensive outburst Worcester defeated Maine 5-0.
My view of the game from my office in Worcester was a bit limited, so thanks to a minion at in Exeter I know Josh Holmstrom scored the first goal for the Railers on the power play at 11:54 of the opening period by causing Maine goaltender Brandon Halverson to cough up the puck and it somehow ended up in the Mariners net.
Barry Almeida made it 2-0 with an even strength goal at 12:46. When I texted my minion on how Almeida scored the answer was, “Well, he’s really good.” Not really what I was looking for, but OK. Tyler Barnes and Nick Sorkin helped somehow because they earned assists on the play.
Almeida once again was really good at 12:55 of the second when he scored the only goal of the period, this time on the power play. Barnes and Ryan MacKinnon did some stuff to be awarded assists.
In the third period Worcester had to kill off an extended two man advantage for Maine, and then later in the period found themselves with long five on three power play. Sorkin quickly connected with that advantage at 15:23 of the third, with assists going to David Quenneville and MacKinnon to make it 4-0.
The fourth line made it 5-0 Worcester at 17:51 with a goal by Trent Durocher. Tommy Tsicos and Nick Bligh supplied the helpers.
Scratches for the Railers were Mike Cornell, Mitch Gillam, Ryan Hubbard, Tommy Kelley (upper body), Tyler Mueller, and Tommy Panico (lower body). Charlie Millen began the game as the back-up goaltender and relieved Evan Buitenhuis at the start of the third period.
There was no official word from the Railers Friday night on Kelley’s or Panico’s availability for the regular season opener next Saturday, but at the time I got the information on the two neither injury was thought to be serious.
Tyler Palmer finished the game with six penalty minutes for Worcester, which caused this writer to check to see what the Railers single game record was in the preseason. It turns out that the single game and preseason record are both seven, held by Preston Kugler. Not remembering who that was I had to look him up too, and after being released by the Railers last season he didn’t play professionally anywhere. This season he’s with the Jacksonville IceMen on a try-out contract.
With the Maine Mariners being an expansion team there’s obviously no Railers players who played there in the ECHL. In fact, the only current Worcester player to play a game in Portland is Mike Cornell, who played against the Portland Pirates for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers during the 2013-14 season. There is one current Mariners player who played for the Railers, Dwyer Tschantz, who scored a goal in four games with the Worcester last season. Maine’s head coach is a long time WorSharks fan favorite Riley Armstrong.
It’s presumed the numbers the Railers are using in their preseason game will be official once the opening day roster is announced, so we’ll make note of some of the changes now. Obviously the players not returning had their numbers re-issued, so just dealing with players still on the team or likely to be assigned here by Bridgeport we have Dylan Willick switching from #42 to #11 and Josh Holmstrom going from #11 to #12. Matty Gaudreau looks to be changing as his #8 is now worn by Nick Sorkin, as will Yanick Turcotte as David Quenneville is currently wearing his #20.
One might think it’s odd that Worcester and Maine would play a preseason game in Exeter, New Hampshire, which is right in the middle of the territorial bubble for the Manchester Monarchs. It does make a little sense when you consider Rinks At Exeter are probably the closest place the two teams could play to the halfway point between them. Exeter is about 85 miles from Worcester and 68 miles from Portland.
In a stat that literally means nothing, the win is the first preseason victory in franchise history. It was also, obviously, their first preseason shutout. Last season Worcester lost both of its preseason matchups with the Manchester Monarchs.
Another stat that means nothing is the attendance that was originally listed as 25 in the box score. I’m guessing they just entered a random number because word from those at the game says that there was at least double that number of just Railers fans, including owner Cliff Rucker and his family. That number was eventually edited to 150.
A quick personal note…as longtime readers know my Worcester Sharks stuff was over on Sharkspage, and last season my Railers stuff appeared on “This Week in Worcester”. At least for now my Railers stuff will be appearing here on 210Sports. If it returns to TWIW this season depends on some behind the scenes stuff being (hopefully) resolved very soon.
The three stars of the game were:
1) WOR #19 – Barry Almeida (2g)
2) WOR #4 – Ryan MacKinnon (2a)
3) WOR #34 – Evan Buitenhuis (20 saves)
I wasn’t going to pick a player of the game for the preseason, but the fact I couldn’t see the game makes picking one a little odd anyway. I’ll have one starting next week against Reading.
EVEN STRENGTH LINES
Almeida / Sorkin / Barnes
Anderson / Holmstrom / Hudson
Arneson / Willick / Bligh
Durocher / Tsicos / Condon
McKenzie / MacKinnon
Vanier / Quenneville
Doherty / Palmer
Teams went with 18 skaters rather than the usual 16 we see in the ECHL during the regular season.
Worcester 2 1 2 – 5
Maine 0 0 0 – 0
1st Period-1, Worcester, Holmstrom 1 11:54 (PP). 2, Worcester, Almeida 1 (Barnes, Sorkin), 12:46. Penalties-Tschantz Mne (high-sticking), 1:42; Arneson Wor (roughing), 8:39; Schwartz Mne (interference), 11:11; Adams Mne (high-sticking), 19:33.
2nd Period-3, Worcester, Almeida 2 (Barnes, MacKinnon), 12:55 (PP). Penalties-Marnell Mne (interference on the goalkeeper), 12:19; Palmer Wor (tripping), 13:43; Ferrill Mne (interference), 16:30.
3rd Period-4, Worcester, Sorkin 1 (Quenneville, MacKinnon), 15:23 (PP). 5, Worcester, Durocher 1 (Tsicos, Bligh), 17:51. Penalties-Palmer Wor (holding), 5:08; Vanier Wor (tripping), 10:17; Palmer Wor (tripping), 10:54; Neil Mne (delay of game), 14:52; Schultz Mne (slashing), 15:14; Tschantz Mne (bench – too many men), 19:39.
Shots on Goal-Worcester 9-19-11-39. Maine 12-8-11-31.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 3 / 8; Maine 0 / 5.
Goalies-Worcester, Buitenhuis 1-0-0-0 (20 shots-20 saves); Millen 0-0-0-0 (11 shots-11 saves). Maine, Halverson 0-1-0-0 (28 shots-25 saves); LaCouvee 0-0-0-0 (11 shots-9 saves).
Referees-Jesse Gour (8).
Linesmen-Nathan Frechette (30), Kyle Richetelle (73).