The Worcester Railers took on the Adirondack Thunder at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts for a rare Thursday night contest in what was being billed as “College Night” looking for back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
With the snow flying outside the building early on it was Thunder flying around inside, and as he has done since assuming the starting role with Mitch Gillam injured goaltender Evan Buitenhuis kept Worcester in the game with several nice saves early. The Railers got on track about halfway through the opening period, and then it was Adirondack netminder Cam Johnson having to make some tough saves. The teams were scoreless through that first period, and in the second stanza the goaltenders continued their stellar play.
The Railers finally broke through nine minutes into the period when defenseman Mike Cornell blasted one from the blueline on net. The puck deflected off Thunder forwards John Edwardh and Cullen Bradshaw, and then finally Woody Hudson got a stick on it to redirect the shot high over the right shoulder of Johnson and just under the crossbar. Matty Gaudreau picked up the secondary assists on the play.
Through the rest of the second period it was again the goaltenders that were the story, and in the third when Adirondack really put on the pressure the burden once again fell on Buitenhuis. He was near perfect, but when the Thunder pulled Jonson for an extra attacker Adirondack got the tying goal on a play that probably should have been called for goaltender interference.
After a faceoff win in the Worcester zone the Thunder cycled the puck to Peter MacArthur, who fired a shot on net. Buitenhuis made the save, but in the ensuing play Adirondack forward James Henry plowed into Buitenhuis preventing him from making the save on Conor Riley’s rebound bid at 18:30.
Referee Matt Menniti signaled it was a good goal, and then went to video replay. Presuming the video that referee Menniti reviewed was the one shown on the Daktronics video board, and it obviously was, it makes many wonder what referee Menniti saw that would negate the obvious goaltender interference.
So for the second time in as many games the Railers would go to overtime and then a shootout, and after the first four shooters missed Nick Bligh finally put Worcester on the board with a nifty shot that beat Johnson glove side just inside the post. Buitenhuis made the save on Dennis Kravchenko’s third round bid to give the Railers a 2-1 victory.
Scratches for the Railers were Austin Block, Connor Doherty, Mitch Gillam (14-day IR/upper), Malcolm Gould, Tommy Kelley (14-day IR/upper), Yanick Turcotte (14-day IR/lower), and Alex Vanier. Charlie Millen was once again the back-up goaltender. Worcester fans had a scare with just over two minutes left in the second period when Matty Gaudreau labored to get off the ice and went down the tunnel with what looked to be a left shoulder injury. Gaudreau was on the bench to start the third and skated his normal shift in the third and overtime.
As part of the “College Night” festivities many of the local college presidents were at center ice pregame to drop the ceremonial first puck. With Worcester State’s president unavailable it was Athletic Director Mike Mudd substituting for him. Mudd is a former president of the Worcester Sharks, and spoke to many gathered fans during the first intermission after doing a radio interview with Tom “Tuesday” Mathews. It may have been the first time that this writer has seen Mudd at a professional hockey game where he wasn’t wearing a tie. It’s a safe bet Mudd has never seen me wearing a tie ever.
Ryan Hitchcock, who was assigned to Worcester by Bridgeport earlier this week, is having the same problems we used to see in the AHL when players came down from the NHL for a brief stint: he’s just too good for this league. He’s so much faster than everyone else so he’s having issues connecting with his teammates on the ice. His passes are ending up in open ice because he instinctually throws pucks to spaces where his AHL line mates would be but his ECHL partners haven’t gotten to yet. So even though he hasn’t hit the scoresheet yet he’s been one of the team’s best players the last couple games.
Skipped over this in Wednesday’s posting about Worcester’s win over Reading, but Barry Almeida was last week’s “Railers Player of the Week” as voted on by the members of the Railers Fan Club group on Facebook. Almeida was the runaway winner with more than half the ballots cast going to him. Nick Bligh and Woody Hudson were the other two nominees.
Upon further review…the final numbers are in from Wednesday’s School Day game. It was attended by over 4,500 students and teachers from 26 different schools, and took 94 buses to transport them to the game and back to their schools. Like last year’s event the Railers are saying it went pretty much as well as you could expect it to, and they’re fairly certain they’ll do it again next season.
Getting high marks for his color commentary in Wednesday’s game is Yanick Turcotte. He was pressed into service when Tom “Tuesday” Mathews was moved into the arena host role for the game. This writer joked with Matthews before the game, asking if he was worried Turcotte might steal his job. Turns out that might eventually be a legitimate question someday.
The three stars of the game were
1) WOR – 34 Evan Buitenhuis
2) WOR – 22 Nick Bligh
3) ADK – 44 Conor Riley
The 210Sports Player of the Game was Woody Hudson.
Even Strength Lines
Gaudreau / Hitchcock / Almeida
Sorkin / Holmstrom / Barnes
Kosorenkov / Willick / Hudson
McKenzie / Cornell
Panico / MacKinnon
Mueller / Quenneville
Adirondack 0 0 1 0 – 1
Worcester 0 1 0 0 – 2
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-MacArthur Adk (slashing), 4:01; Almeida Wor (hooking), 10:04.
2nd Period-1, Worcester, Hudson 3 (Cornell, Gaudreau), 9:00. Penalties-Lough Adk (holding), 3:40; Riley Adk (high-sticking), 9:25; Summers Adk (cross-checking), 10:54; Gaudreau Wor (slashing), 10:54.
3rd Period-2, Adirondack, Riley 7 (MacArthur, Lough), 18:30. Penalties-No Penalties
OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Ward Adk (hooking), 0:59.
Shootout – Adirondack 0 (Ward NG, Henry NG, Kravchenko NG), Worcester 1 (Kosorenkov NG, Hitchcock NG, Bligh G).
Shots on Goal-Adirondack 11-9-16-1-0-37. Worcester 8-10-4-3-1-26.
Power Play Opportunities-Adirondack 0 / 1; Worcester 0 / 4.
Goalies-Adirondack, Johnson 3-2-0-1 (25 shots-24 saves). Worcester, Buitenhuis 3-3-1-0 (37 shots-36 saves).
Referees-Matt Menniti (10).
Linesmen-Kyle Richetelle (73), Shane Kanaly (39).