The Worcester Railers headed to Portland, Maine Saturday night looking for a little payback in the back half of their home-and home series against the Maine Mariners, but more importantly looking for some offense and two points to break their franchise worse six game winless steak.
Just like Friday night it was the Railers getting on the board first on a nice goal by Barry Almeida, this time capitalizing on a great zone entry by Tyler Barnes. After rushing down the right wing Barnes faked liked he was going to wheel the net, but just as he got to the near post he threw a nifty pass to Almeida out front. Maine goaltender Brandon Halverson never had a chance on the bid at 17:50 of the first period.
In hockey one of the cardinal sins is giving up a goal in the first or last minute of a period, and unfortunately Worcester did just that. With Woody Hudson in the box for an interference minor Scott Savage beat Railers netminder Evan Buitenhuis from the right side at 19:14 of the period. Assists on the power play tally went to Sean Day and Drew Melanson.
It was all about the goaltenders in the middle 20 minutes as both squads had some great chances but couldn’t light the lamp. Buitenhuis has 12 saves in the frame, and Halverson stopped all of Worcester’s 18 shots.
The third period would once again prove pivotal, and as has happened far too many times already this young season the Railers would fail to show up until the game was essentially decided. At 6:51 of the third, after Buitenhuis had already made a couple big saves, Michael McNicholas gathered a loose puck and while three Worcester players stood around looking for the puck flipped a backhander over Buitenhuis for the 2-1 Maine lead. Day and Morgan Adams-Moisan were credited with the assists.
Maine continued to carry the play but Buitenhuis kept his team in it, and with 2:26 remaining in regulation the Railers headed to the power play down just a goal when Ryan Ferrill flipped the puck out of play from the Mariners defensive zone.
It took three seconds for Maine to put the game out of reach as Terrence Wallin won the next face-off cleanly back to Ryan Culkin, who then fired it 200 feet into the empty net to send Worcester home 3-1 losers, extending their winless streak to a franchise worst seven games.
Scratches for the Railers were Connor Doherty, Mitch Gillam (upper body), Malcolm Gould, Tommy Kelley (14-day IR/upper body), Yanick Turcotte (14-day IR/lower body), and Alex Vanier. Jason San Antonio was once again the back-up goaltender. Tommy Panico played the game with eight stitches in his left ear but didn’t seem to be wearing any additional protection over it.
Looking at the schedule and the way the roster rules work in the ECHL it’s possible we could see Mitch Gillam added to the 14-day IR list retroactive to November 8th. That would give the Railers an open roster spot and Gillam would be eligible to come back for November 23rd vs Manchester.
Worcester had a few transaction during Saturday, bringing in forward Malcolm Gould and releasing Tommy Tsicos. Gould was signed in the summer but was released from his contract after breaking his jaw playing summer league hockey. Tsicos was the definition of a “warm body”, going minus-1 with two shots and a fighting major in just four games since the start of the season. They also signed goaltender Charlie Millen from the Birmingham Bulls of the SPHL. He’ll be in town for Wednesday morning’s school day game against Reading.
Saturday saw several odd listings on the AHL transactions page concerning the Sound Tigers and former Worcester Sharks forward Evan Trupp. There were two entries dated for November 9th saying Trupp was “Released from SPC”, which would be odd because based on previous published information he never had a contract with Bridgeport, and instead plays for the DEL’s Iserlohn Roosters in Germany. Then there an additional entry of “added” that meant he was officially added to Bridgeport’s roster. It was obvious there had been some sort of entry error involving the two players named Evan; Buitenhuis and Trupp. It was all fixed before the start of the Sound Tigers game against Providence.
In other transaction news, the Railers looked to catch a break after Friday’s game with Maine when the Mariners leading scorer, Alex Kile, was loaned to the Utah Comets (AHL). It’s Kile’s third stint in the AHL as he finished the 2016-17 season with the Rochester Americans after a four year career at the University of Michigan and then played one game with the Amerks last season. Kile was the first player ever signed by the Mariners. It turned out to not be that big of a break as Worcester couldn’t capitalize on his absence.
With several of the Railers division rivals also previously hosting AHL franchises there are some habits that are showing that they’re hard to break. In Newfoundland, Worcester play-by-play man Eric Lindquist called the Growlers “IceCaps”, the name of St John’s AHL team, several times. Over the last day I’ve had to edit “Cumberland County Civic Center”, the name of the building when the AHL’s Portland Pirates played there, to “Cross Insurance Arena” as the building is named now.
For those into the specialty jerseys, the Mariners wore Marvel Captain America jerseys for the game. As those are white jerseys Worcester went with their dark jerseys, which are the ones usually worn at home the first half of this ECHL season.
The three stars of the game were
1) MNE – 35 Brandon Halverson
2) MNE – 13 Michael McNicholas
3) MNE – 4 Scott Savage
The 210Sports player of the game was Tyler Barnes.
EVEN STRENGTH LINES
Almeida / Sorkin / Hudson
Kosorenkov / Holmstrom / Barnes
Bligh / Willick / Block
McKenzie / Cornell
Panico / MacKinnon
Mueller / Quenneville
Worcester 1 0 0 – 1
Maine 1 0 2 – 3
1st Period-1, Worcester, Almeida 4 (Barnes), 17:50. 2, Maine, Savage 2 (Day, Melanson), 19:14 (PP). Penalties-Ferrill Mne (slashing), 2:46; Quenneville Wor (interference), 13:58; Hudson Wor (interference), 18:55.
2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Wallin Mne (slashing), 5:47; MacKinnon Wor (roughing), 15:38.
3rd Period-3, Maine, McNicholas 1 (Adams-Moisan, Day), 6:51. 4, Maine, Culkin 2 (Wallin, McNicholas), 17:37 (SH EN). Penalties-Quenneville Wor (slashing), 8:10; Leedahl Mne (tripping), 10:14; Kosorenkov Wor (tripping), 14:31; Cornell Wor (double – roughing), 14:46; McKenzie Wor (cross-checking), 14:46; Leedahl Mne (cross-checking, double – roughing), 14:46; Ferrill Mne (delay of game), 17:34.
Shots on Goal-Worcester 9-18-6-33. Maine 10-12-12-34.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 0 / 4; Maine 1 / 5.
Goalies-Worcester, Buitenhuis 1-3-1-0 (33 shots-31 saves). Maine, Halverson 2-3-0-1 (33 shots-32 saves).
Referees-Sean Fernandez (21).
Linesmen-Shane Kanaly (39), Stephen Drain (77).