Railers lose 5-2 to Growlers; Mitch Gillam leaves game with possible injury


The Worcester Railers played their second game in two night at the Mile One Centre in St. John’s, Newfoundland against the Growlers still hoping to figure out ways to put the puck into the net.

The opening twenty minutes didn’t see any scoring, but both clubs had some decent chances. The Growlers had the best of the bunch, but Railers goaltender Mitch Gillam was up to the task. His best saves came early on, but he continued to look sharp while Worcester was down two men even after being run over by Newfoundland forward Josh Kestner.

At the other end of the ice Growlers netminder Mario Culina, while not being tested as often, still came up big a couple times.

In the second period the Railers took their first lead in over two weeks when Nick Bligh collected a Newfoundland turnover at the top of the crease and slipped it by Culina for the 1-0 lead at 2:41.

The Growlers tied it at 5:29 after Gillam made the save on Brady Ferguson’s shot. Ferguson was able to control the rebound and slide the puck over to Kestner. With just about all 24 square feet to shoot at Kestner just pushed it into the empty net.

The Railers grabbed their second lead of the game at 7:24 with a power play goal. Tommy Panico and Mike Cornell exchanged passes along the blue line, and then Cornell ripped a booming shot toward goal. Woody Hudson was set up in front, and tipped the blast in for the 2-1 advantage.

Once again Newfoundland got the equalizer, this time with a power play goal of their own at 16:49 when J.J. Piccinich flipped a rebound chance top shelf over Gillam. Hudson Elynuik and Ryan Moore had the assists.

The Growlers took their first lead of the game at 17:12 of the period on a controversial non-call. After Gillam was run over and was laying face down on the ice Ferguson fired the puck into the open net. Inexplicably referee Alex Garon allowed the goal to stand.

Gillam was down for some time before skating off toward the Worcester dressing room. Evan Buitenhuis took his place in goal.

Newfoundland made it a two goal lead when they capitalized on a Railers turnover. Marcus Power was sent into the Worcester zone on a breakaway and beat Buitenhuis with a backhander at 14:59 of the third. Giorgio Estephan added an empty net goal at 19:29 for the 5-2 final.

Scratches for the Railers were Connor Doherty, Tommy Kelley (upper body/14-day IR), Ivan Kosorenkov (immigration issue in Canada), Tommy Tsicos, and Yanick Turcotte (lower body/14-day IR). Evan Buitenhuis began the game as the back-up goaltender. Turcotte and Kosorenkov did not make the trip to St John’s. Head Coach Jamie Russell went with the same line-up as Tuesday night, going with nine forwards and seven defensemen.

There was no word on any potential injury to Mitch Gillam after the game, although if it’s something that will keep him out of games we should know before Friday as Worcester will need to sign an emergency back-up. Tommy Panico, who took a shot to the side of his helmet in the second period and went off to the dressing room took his normal shifts in the third period and seemed no worse for wear.

The Railers will travel back to Worcester Thursday, once again meeting at the rink in the wee hours of the morning before flying to Toronto and then heading back to Logan airport in Boston. They won’t have much time to get comfortable in their own beds as they then begin a home and home series against the Maine Mariners Friday night at the DCU Center.

This weekend was a homecoming of sorts for Mike Cornell, who played 15 games for the AHL’s St John’s IceCaps during the 2014-15 season. Cornell, who was Florida Everblades property at the time, had two goals and four points while under his PTO contract. It was one of three AHL PTOs he had that season.

Upon further review…sneaking by this writer last night was that Josh Holmstrom became the first Railers player to score a goal in each period when he lit the lamp in the first period. Until someone else gets an overtime goal it’s going to a long while for a second player to match Holmstrom’s feat. Last season only three plays did it, Barry Almeida, Matt Lane, and Chris Langkow.

The three stars of the game were
1) NFL – 22 Brady Ferguson
2) NFL – 23 Stefan LeBlanc
3) WOR – 35 Mitch Gillam

The 210Sports player of the game was Nick Bligh.

Almeida / Sorkin / Barnes
Hudson / Holmstrom / Bligh
Arneson / Willick / Block

McKenzie / Cornell
Panico/ MacKinnon
Vanier & Quenneville / Mueller

Vanier also saw some shifts at forward.

Worcester 0 2 0 – 2
Newfoundland 0 3 2 – 5

1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Piccinich Nfl (hooking), 3:54; Almeida Wor (slashing), 4:55; McKenzie Wor (high-sticking), 9:06; Moore Nfl (cross-checking), 9:06; MacKinnon Wor (slashing), 12:52; Cornell Wor (high-sticking), 13:06; Elynuik Nfl (high-sticking), 17:52; LeBlanc Nfl (cross-checking), 19:03.

2nd Period-1, Worcester, Bligh 3 2:41. 2, Newfoundland, Kestner 7 (Ferguson), 5:29. 3, Worcester, Hudson 2 (Cornell, Panico), 7:24 (PP). 4, Newfoundland, Piccinich 1 (Elynuik, Moore), 16:49 (PP). 5, Newfoundland, Ferguson 8 (Kestner), 17:12. Penalties-Piccinich Nfl (slashing), 7:11; Mueller Wor (slashing), 15:34; Rubins Nfl (tripping), 17:31.

3rd Period-6, Newfoundland, Power 3 (Plouffe, Pooley), 14:59. 7, Newfoundland, Estephan 9 (Ferguson), 19:29 (EN). Penalties-No Penalties

Shots on Goal-Worcester 6-6-5-17. Newfoundland 10-15-8-33.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 1 / 5; Newfoundland 1 / 4.
Goalies-Worcester, Gillam 2-5-0-0 (25 shots-22 saves); Buitenhuis 1-2-0-0 (7 shots-6 saves). Newfoundland, Culina 2-0-0-0 (17 shots-15 saves).
Referees-Alex Garon (9).
Linesmen-Sheldon Keough (47), Brian Lambert (36).


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