The Worcester Railers went into Saturday night’s contest against the expansion Newfoundland Growlers at the DCU Center looking to forget their no-show performance of the night before, but for most of the contest once again the team looked like they had never played together before as they sent home the 4,877 fans in attendance disappointed with a 5-2 loss.
With the team having issues scoring Head Coach Jamie Russell broke apart his top line, and while it did generate some energy amongst the lines what it didn’t do was significantly increase scoring chances.
Despite being on the end of an eight game road trip Newfoundland didn’t have any issues keeping up their tempo and weathered Worcester’s early energy, and then took advantage of the game’s first power play to take the lead when defenseman Stefan LeBlanc blasted one through traffic and past Railers goaltender Evan Buitenhuis at 10:29 of the first. Giorgio Estephan had the assist on the play.
The Growlers would make it 2-0 twenty seconds after a listless power play for Worcester when Anthony Cortese fired a hard shot on net that was tipped waist high in front by Brady Ferguson and past Buitenhuis at 14:31.
It wasn’t any better in the second period for Worcester when at 7:56 Estephan skated through all four Railers penalty killers virtually untouched. Buitenhuis had no chance at all on the play that made it 3-0. Ferguson and LeBlanc had the helpers.
Matt Bradley made it 4-0 Newfoundland at 15:25 of the middle period when he fired a knuckleball that somehow found its way into the net. Tate Olson and Kyle Cumiskey were credited with the assists.
All that was left was to see if Worcester could actually score a goal this weekend, and they weren’t making it very tough on Growlers netminder Mario Culina, who was making his pro debut.
With the roster Worcester has they shouldn’t be having issues putting the puck in the net, and for a few late moments Saturday fans saw that. Ivan Kosorenkov finally got the hometown team on the board at 15:59 of the third after taking a nice feed from Tyler Mueller. The defenseman’s pass hit Kosorenkov in stride as he broke into the zone ahead of the Newfoundland defenders and Kosorenkov beat Culina clean.
The goal, which was the first for Worcester from a non-North American born player since April 18, 2015 when Nikolay Goldobin had two against the AHL Manchester Monarchs, broke the Railers scoreless streak of 125:38.
It didn’t take nearly as long for Worcester to grab their second of the game, as just 27 second later Tyler Barned plucked a rebound of Connor Doherty’s shot out of the air, dropped the puck to the ice, and banked it in off Growlers defender Olson. Mike Cornell had the secondary assist on the goal at 16:26
Referee Andrea Barone quickly waved the goal off, but then went to the video review system being tested by the ECHL. It took much longer than 27 seconds to get the final verdict, but in the end Barone changed his call and counted the goal. The center ice replay was then shown on the Daktronics video board and it was obviously a good goal.
Railers fans were finally back into the game and were fairly loud in supporting their team, but when Russell pulled Buitenhuis for the extra attacker the “we haven’t played together before” look reared its head again and an incredibly bad turnover in their own end resulted in an easy empty netter for Bradley to make it 5-2.
That would have been enough to annoy the fans by itself, but with two minutes to go Worcester got a power play chance, but essentially played it like the game was already over.
And if Russell and the Railers can’t figure out a way to get this all together soon the season will be over long before the last game is played.
Scratches for the Railers were Bryan Arneson, Tommy Kelley (upper body/14-day IR), Kyle McKenzie (suspended, game one of one) David Quenneville (upper body), and Yanick Turcotte (lower body/14-day IR). Ryan Hubbard was the back-up goaltender.
In the pregame skate Quenneville was worked out hard, so that’s a good sign that the medical staff is no longer worried about his re-injuring himself getting back into game shape. Word is Turcotte is very close to being activated. He was seen moving around pretty well this weekend. There’s been no recent update on Kelley.
As we said was possible after Friday night’s game, the ECHL suspended McKenzie one game for firing the puck out of play after the first Adirondack goal. There is no video of the incident, but McKenzie admits to doing it. The ECHL could have suspended McKenzie for up to three games, but settled on one as the puck actually hit the glass first before going out of play.
Prior to the game the Worcester Fire Department played the Worcester Police Department in a “Guns and Hoses” game, with the firemen coming out on top 7-3. With the police department the winners in the Railers now annual summer blood drive Worcester wore police motif jerseys for their game against Newfoundland, which were auctioned off with proceeds benefiting the Boys and Girls club of Worcester.
When the Newfoundland Growlers were announced as an ECHL franchise to replace the departed AHL St John’s IceCaps the first thing this writer tweeted was they absolutely had to bring broadcaster Brian Rogers back to call their games. Rogers was the cream of the crop when it came to play by play announcers in the AHL, and his voice would be welcomed by all fans in the ECHL. The Growlers did indeed hire Rogers, but some circumstances have changed in Rogers life that currently only allow him to broadcast home games. Hopefully in the future Rogers will return to a full schedule, mostly because many of us at the DCU Center miss his pregame conversations.
And speaking of the Growlers, as seems to be a trend with ECHL teams lately their white jerseys are very sharp looking. The teams colors and logo have a long story behind them, both inspired by a 1917 photo of a Newfoundland dog named Sable Chief that served as mascot for The Royal Newfoundland Regiment during World War I.
“Our primary logo is a Newfoundland dog – a large working dog who is known for their size, strength, intelligence and loyalty,” the team wrote on their Instagram post unveiling the logo. “The dog in the logo is fierce and stoic to represent the pride and resilience of our province, and our reputation of never backing down from a challenge. Paired with a forged-style font, the hard edges and strong weight give it a stone-chiseled feel which lends itself well to the vintage style of the logo.”
With Newfoundland being an expansion team it seems obvious that none of the current Worcester Railers have played for the franchise. The Growlers have had a former Railers player on their roster, goaltender Eamon McAdam. He’s currently under recall to the Toronto Marlies. Defenseman Cody Smith is a central Massachusetts connection to the Growlers having been born in Hudson. Forward Scott Pooley is another, having played four seasons for Holy Cross.
It was the first time the Canadian national anthem was sung at the DCU Center for a hockey game in a long while, and Jane Shivick, who has sung the American anthem several times before at Railers games, sang the Canadian anthem Saturday night while holding up the flag of Newfoundland and Labrador.
The three stars of the game were
1) NFL – 29 Giorgio Estephan
2) NFL – 23 Stefan LeBlanc
3) NFL – 31 Mario Culina
The 210Sports player of the game was Ivan Kosorenkov.
EVEN STRENGTH LINES
Almeida / Sorkin / Bligh
Barnes / Kosorenkov / Holmstrom
Block / Willick / Hudson
Panico / Cornell
Vanier / MacKinnon
Doherty / Mueller
Newfoundland 2 2 1 – 5
Worcester 0 0 2 – 2
1st Period-1, Newfoundland, LeBlanc 1 (Estephan), 10:29 (PP). 2, Newfoundland, Ferguson 6 (Cortese), 14:31. Penalties-Doherty Wor (slashing), 9:50; Moore Nfl (slashing), 12:10; Doherty Wor (tripping), 17:07; Cortese Nfl (hooking), 19:55.
2nd Period-3, Newfoundland, Estephan 8 (Ferguson, LeBlanc), 7:56 (PP). 4, Newfoundland, Bradley 3 (Olson, Cumiskey), 15:25. Penalties-Mueller Wor (tripping), 6:17; Almeida Wor (hooking), 16:54; Moore Nfl (interference), 19:11; Bradley Nfl (hooking), 19:34.
3rd Period-5, Worcester, Kosorenkov 1 (Mueller), 15:59. 6, Worcester, Barnes 2 (Doherty, Cornell), 16:26. 7, Newfoundland, Bradley 4 (Estephan), 17:29. Penalties-Doherty Wor (hooking), 2:04; Vanier Wor (roughing), 2:54; Sorkin Wor (roughing), 12:25; Cornell Wor (high-sticking), 12:41; Bradley Nfl (hooking), 18:00.
Shots on Goal-Newfoundland 10-10-13-33. Worcester 8-11-16-35.
Power Play Opportunities-Newfoundland 2 / 8; Worcester 0 / 5.
Goalies-Newfoundland, Culina 1-0-0-0 (35 shots-33 saves). Worcester, Buitenhuis 1-2-0-0 (33 shots-28 saves).
Referees-Andrea Barone (13).
Linesmen-Kyle Richetelle (73), Stephen Drain (77).