The Worcester Railers played their second game in two nights against the Reading Royals at the Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania, and it was one of those times when the game just got away from the Railers for a bit, and their last ditch comeback effort came up just short in a 6-4 loss.
Unlike Saturday night’s contest where Reading jumped out to a first period lead it was the Railers that would strike first when Barry Almeida lit the lamp at 6:38. Tyler Barnes began the play with a nice rush up ice, and the puck eventually found its way on to the stick of David Quenneville. The rookie defenseman saw Almeida all alone at the far post behind Royals goaltender Branden Komm, and threw a pass right to the tape of Almeida’s stick for the easy tap in.
Reading would get the equalizer at 9:26 when Alex Krushelnyski and Shane Walsh broke into the Worcester zone on a two on one rush. Krushelnyski made the final pass to Walsh, who then beat Railers netminder Mitch Gillam five hole to knot the game 1-1.
Later in the first Almeida was called for the automatic delay of game after accidentally flipping the puck over the glass in the defensive zone, and as always seems to happen when that penalty is called Reading scored to take the 2-1 lead.
Chris McCarthy earned the primary assist on the play firing a hard shot toward goal that was tipped past Gillam by Josh MacDonald. Adam Schmidt had the secondary helper on the play.
The second period was not good for Worcester as they surrendered four goals, three while they were shorthanded. The first came at 54 seconds of the period when Steven Swavely lifted a backhander over a down and out Gillam.
Soon after tempers began to flare when Frankie DiChiara hit Josh Holmstrom into the boards from behind. Connor Doherty came out of the pile of players throwing bombs at DiChiara. After both players went to the ice with Doherty on top Doherty had to go to the dressing room for repairs.
The Railers then spent too much time trying to play physical to extract some revenge for the hit, and ended up down two skaters when Nick Sorkin and Yanick Turcotte both ended up in the box with minor penalties.
At 9:03 Tyler Brown made it 4-1 when he tipped Adam Larkin’s shot high over Gillam and in. Twenty-three seconds later it was 5-1 when Walsh banged home a rebound of Schmidt’s shot for his second of the game. Jack Riley added another for Reading when he tipped Nick Luukko’s shot home at 12:41.
Despite Gillam not playing badly Head Coach Jamie Russell decided to switch goaltenders and give Evan Buitenhuis his first pro action.
David Quenneville stopped the bleeding for Worcester with a power play tally at 16:21 when his blast deflected off a Royals penalty killer and past Komm. Ryan MacKinnon and Almeida had the assists on the play.
In the third period the Railers didn’t give up, and made it 6-3 at 8:40 when Doherty fired a shot on goal and Dylan Willick banged home the rebound. Just a few moments later Worcester missed a golden opportunity to grab another goal when Komm stopped Barnes’ penalty shot attempt.
Josh Holmstrom got the Railers within two at 10:14 when he picked up a loose puck in the slot and fired it past Komm. Jeff Kubiak and Tyler Mueller had the helpers on the play. But that was as close as the Railers would get as they split their two games with the Royals.
Worcester next plays on Saturday in the home opener at the DCU Center against the Maine Mariners.
Scratches for the Railers were Nick Bligh, Tommy Kelley (14-day IR), Tommy Panico (lower body), Tommy Tsicos, and Alex Vanier. Evan Buitenhuis was the back-up goaltender, and entered the game at 13:55 of the second. Head Coach Jamie Russell went out of his way to say in the pregame show that the guys who played last night and were scratched Sunday were out simply to get the other guys into games. He praised the play of Bligh and Vanier specifically.
There was a 5K road race that finished inside the Santander Arena sandwiched in between the two Railers/Royals tilts this weekend, and Sunday morning the ice was completely covered for it. With the humidity hovering around 70% most of the day that’s a recipe for a poor ice surface, and there were sections where the puck could be seen not sliding smoothly. It didn’t seem to affect play much, but had it been warmer it could have caused an issue. Because of the event there was no morning skate.
The two game road trip to Reading for Worcester didn’t appear on the early drafts of the ECHL schedule, and instead the Royals were to visit Worcester. Some wheeling and dealing between the clubs got the games moved to Reading. Railers GM and Head Coach Jamie Russell prefers to start the season out on the road so he was obviously happy with the arrangement, as were the handful of Worcester fans who decided to make an early trip to see the team play.
There were two former Worcester players playing for Reading this weekend, with forward Adam Schmidt playing 14 games for the WorSharks at the end of the 2013-14 season, and Frankie DiChiara playing for the Railers last season. For Worcester players that played for the Royals, Barry Almeida played 27 games for Reading in 2012-13.
The three stars of the game were:
1) REA – 77 Shane Walsh
2) REA – 19 Alex Krushelnyski
3) REA – 3 Chris McCarthy
The 210Sports Player of the Game was David Quenneville.
EVEN STRENGTH LINES
Almeida / Sorkin / Barnes
Holmstrom / Kubiak / Hudson
Block / Willick / Turcotte
Mueller / Cornell
Doherty / McKenzie
MacKinnon / Quenneville
Worcester 1 1 2 – 4
Reading 2 4 0 – 6
1st Period-1, Worcester, Almeida 2 (Quenneville, Barnes), 6:38. 2, Reading, Walsh 1 (Krushelnyski), 9:26. 3, Reading, MacDonald 1 (Schmidt, McCarthy), 14:33 (PP). Penalties-Kubiak Wor (fighting – major), 8:58; Milan Rea (fighting – major), 8:58; Schmidt Rea (slashing), 9:52; Almeida Wor (delay of game), 13:19; Riley Rea (interference), 17:47.
2nd Period-4, Reading, Swavely 1 (Krushelnyski), 0:54. 5, Reading, Brown 1 (Larkin, Krushelnyski), 9:03 (PP). 6, Reading, Walsh 2 (McCarthy, Schmidt), 9:26 (PP). 7, Reading, Riley 1 (Luukko, DiChiara), 12:41 (PP). 8, Worcester, Quenneville 1 (MacKinnon, Almeida), 16:21 (PP). Penalties-Doherty Wor (fighting – major), 2:02; DiChiara Rea (boarding, fighting – major), 2:02; Sorkin Wor (holding), 8:01; Turcotte Wor (roughing), 8:01; Turcotte Wor (boarding, fighting – major), 11:02; Vasaturo Rea (fighting – major), 11:02; Block Wor (interference), 13:55; Walsh Rea (interference), 14:49; Luukko Rea (holding), 15:56.
3rd Period-9, Worcester, Willick 1 (Doherty), 8:40. 10, Worcester, Holmstrom 2 (Kubiak, Mueller), 10:14. Penalties-Krushelnyski Rea (holding), 11:10; Cornell Wor (roughing), 14:01.
Missed penalty shot-Worcester Tyler Barnes, 3rd 9:08
Shots on Goal-Worcester 12-7-13-32. Reading 9-12-9-30.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 1 / 6; Reading 4 / 6.
Goalies-Worcester, Gillam 1-1-0-0 (21 shots-15 saves); Buitenhuis 0-0-0-0 (9 shots-9 saves). Reading, Komm 1-0-1-0 (32 shots-28 saves).
Referees-Andrew Bruggeman (25).
Linesmen-JP Waleski (51), Neil Frederickson (54).