The Worcester Railers began a busy month of November with a game Friday night at the DCU Center against the Adirondack Thunder, looking for a bit of revenge for a pair of losses to their division rivals in games in Glens Falls last week.
The unseasonably warm and humid air wreaked havoc with the DCU Center climate control systems, causing slippery floors and fogging the rinkside glass to the point where prior to warmups you couldn’t see across the ice surface through them. It improved enough as the game went on to keep the glass mostly clear, but the fog that formed at the north end of the building continued to mask some of the play.
As it turned out for Railers fans it may have been better if an entire fog bank was formed as Worcester played what might be their worst game ever, but somehow still found themselves down just a goal after 40 minutes.
The only goal of the opening two periods was a pretty nice one where Thunder defenseman Blake Thompson showed you don’t need to blast the puck on net to score. Thompson slid the puck along the ice toward the Worcester net and Brain Ward tipped it past a screened Evan Buitenhuis at 17:35 of the opening period.
Buitenhuis showed no fatigue from two cross-country trips this week and singlehandedly kept the Railers in the game despite how poorly the offense was playing.
At 10:07 of the third period the Worcester defense coughed up the puck behind their own net and Buitenhuis had no chance at all on Mike Szmatula’s 15-foot blast from right in front that made it 2-0. Conor Riley added an empty net goal in the last minute of the game for the 3-0 final.
The Railers won’t have long to lick their wounds as they next play Saturday night against the expansion Newfoundland Growlers.
Scratches for the Railers were Connor Doherty, Tommy Kelley (upper body/14-day IR), David Quenneville (upper body), Tommy Tsicos, and Yanick Turcotte (lower body/14-day IR). Ryan Hubbard was the back-up goaltender. Ivan Kosorenkov made his pro debut Friday night and became the first non-North American born player to play for the Railers.
In a paperwork transaction Worcester moved Turcotte from its reserve list to its 14-day injured reserve list. Because it’s been backdated to October 21st Turcotte is eligible to be activated on Sunday. Turcotte was Tom Matthews first intermission guest and looked fine climbing the stairs to the broadcast booth.
Defenseman Kyle McKenzie was given a game misconduct right after the Thunder’s first goal for apparently shooting the puck out of play. McKenzie could face additional discipline for his actions. While this writer will admit his sample size was small, not a single person I talked to saw McKenzie shoot the puck into the crowd.
In the span of a couple of day the Railers went from having one of the top goaltending tandems in the ECHL to looking at multiple emergency netminders. First off rookie Evan Buitenhuis was signed to a PTO by the Ontario Reign on Tuesday, and then Islanders goalie Robin Lehner got hurt. That started a chain reaction of recalls through the organization, which resulted in Mitch Gillam going to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Thursday morning.
On Tuesday Worcester signed Ryan Hubbard, who appeared at the Railers training camp, as an EBUG before Gillam was recalled. After Gillam went to Bridgeport the Railers brought in Jason San Antonio to be a practice goaltender. Seeing as San Antonio hadn’t played in a high level league since he played for Bryant University in 2013-14 it was almost obvious the Railers weren’t going to dress him for a game. And they didn’t as Worcester released him at the end of practice on Thursday. Buitenhuis was released by the Reign Thursday and started Friday in Worcester.
In a bit of miscommunication between myself and Railers radio man Eric Lindquist I tweeted that Worcester’s starting goaltender would be Ryan Hubbard. Listening to the pregame show over the monitors I heard Lindquist say it was Buitenhuis, which cased me some confusion. A brief pregame conversation got us both on the same page, or more correctly, me on Eric’s page.
The Railers set some futility records in the game, with their three second period shots being a new franchise low for the period. The old record was five, set in Reading on January 10, 2018. Their four third period shots are a franchise low for a home game, breaking the mark of six set three times last season. Their 16 total shots are a franchise low for a home game and tie their all-time low. They also had 16 shots at Manchester on April 7, 2018.
With it being the first game of a new week we’ll take a look at who was voted “Railers Player of the Week” for last week. The fan vote held on a Facebook Railers fan group has Josh Holmstrom as last week’s winner. Holmstrom had two goals last week. The other two nominees were Woody Hudson and Nick Bligh.
The three stars of the game were
1) ADK – 22 Brian Ward
2) ADK – 35 Cam Johnson
3) WOR – 34 Evan Buitenhuis
The 210Sports player of the game was Evan Buitenhuis.
EVEN STRENGTH LINES
Almeida / Sorkin / Barnes
Kosorenkov / Holmstrom / Bligh
Block / Willick / Hudson
McKenzie / Cornell
Vanier / MacKinnon
Panico / Mueller
Adirondack 1 0 2 – 3
Worcester 0 0 0 – 0
1st Period-1, Adirondack, Ward 4 (Thompson), 17:35. Penalties-Vanier Wor (interference), 7:06; Kravchenko Adk (interference on the goalkeeper), 14:22; McKenzie Wor (game misconduct – throwing equipment), 17:35; Kravchenko Adk (unsportsmanlike conduct), 19:02; Arneson Wor (unsportsmanlike conduct, roughing), 19:02.
2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Szmatula Adk (slashing), 3:41; Thompson Adk (hooking), 7:03; Riley Adk (unsportsmanlike conduct), 11:26; Mueller Wor (slashing), 15:38; Cornell Wor (cross-checking), 16:58.
3rd Period-2, Adirondack, Szmatula 4 10:07. 3, Adirondack, Riley 5 (Reichert), 19:15 (EN). Penalties-Edwardh Adk (tripping), 7:07; Sorkin Wor (tripping), 13:16; Cornell Wor (tripping), 16:01.
Shots on Goal-Adirondack 9-11-18-38. Worcester 9-3-4-16.
Power Play Opportunities-Adirondack 0 / 6; Worcester 0 / 5.
Goalies-Adirondack, Johnson 2-0-0-0 (16 shots-16 saves). Worcester, Buitenhuis 1-1-0-0 (37 shots-35 saves).
Referees-Sean MacFarlane (4).
Linesmen-Shane Kanaly (39), Brent Colby (38).