The Worcester Railers took on the Orlando Solar Bears Sunday afternoon in the second of two meetings this weekend between the clubs looking to continue the momentum of Saturday night’s victory and to extend their winning streak to four games.
For the first two periods it was the goaltenders stealing the show, with Worcester’s Charlie Millen making his first ever ECHL start and showing early on he wasn’t going to look like a nervous rookie between the pipes. At the other end of the ice Orlando’s Hayden Stewart was performing just as well.
While the shots were pretty close the Solar Bears had the better of the opportunities, but Millen was up to the task including making a highlight reel backhand blocker save to keep the game scoreless.
The Solar Bears would be the first to get on the scoreboard, notching a power play goal at 18:43 of the middle period when a bouncing puck found its way on to the stick of Brady Shaw. With Millen down and out Shaw fired a shot from a bad angle that gave Orlando a 1-0 lead. Cody Donaghey and Troy Bourke had the assists on the play.
The Railers would get the equalizer on a nice power play goal of their own at 2:23 of the third period. Tyler Barnes ripped a shot off that Stewart made the save on, and the rebound when right to Josh Holmstrom. He threw a nice fake, and instead of shooting it back on net found Ivan Kosorenkov all alone at the far post behind everyone. Kosorenkov buried his opportunity to make it 1-1.
Orlando got a little lucky at 6:34 when defenseman Mike Monfredo’s shot from the blueline was blocked. It ended up on the stick of Chris LeBlanc, who fired a laser past Millen for the 2-1 Solar Bears lead. They’d make it 3-1 at 8:46 when LeBlanc won a face-off and got it to Trevor Olson, who flipped a shot just inside the far post for the two goal lead.
You could see the wind come right out of Worcester’s sails, but they never gave up and closed the gap to 3-2 with another power play goal at 11:02. Tyler Mueller threw an easy pass over to Mike Cornell, who blasted it on net. Barnes was there to tip it past Stewart.
Orlando claimed it was hit with a high stick, and from this writer’s perch it sure looked like they were right. Referee Jacob Rekuck did not go to video and instead conferred with his two linesmen before calling the goal good. Replay shows it was a lot closer than it looked live from my point of view, and it likely would have survived a video review.
Still down a goal the Railers really started putting the pressure on, and they would get back to even on a nice play by Matty Gaudreau. The Solar Bears attempted to clear the puck but Gaudreau plucked it off the blueline and broke in on net from the left wing side, beating Stewart on the stick side for the unassisted goal at 16:14.
The game would go on to overtime, and what looked like a harmless shot on Millen by Michael Brodzinski somehow found its way through Millen’s five-hole and in for the 4-3 Solar Bears win.
With the point for the overtime loss Worcester earned seven out of a possible eight points in their four games in five days stretch. They next play Friday at the DCU center against the Manchester Monarchs.
Scratches for the Railers were Mitch Gillam (14-day IR/upper), Malcolm Gould, Ryan Hitchcock (Flu), Tommy Kelley (14-day IR/upper), Tommy Panico, David Quenneville, and Yanick Turcotte (14-day IR/lower). Evan Buitenhuis was the back-up goaltender. There was no official updates on any of the players on injured reserve other than they’re all “doing better”.
The Railers played their first game in the orange third jerseys, which they’ll be wearing for every Sunday home game for the rest of the regular season. The feature blue numbers which really makes the orange stand out. While it is a small sample size reviews were all positive on the jerseys.
Over the two games this weekend I had a couple great conversations with David Salter, the Railers Chief Scout of Canada’s Atlantic provinces. Included in his long hockey resume is a stint as Director of Communications for the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps. One of the perks of covering games is meeting many people with long histories in the game of hockey, and Salter was no exception. When he was announced as a scout for the Railers I was pretty sure it would be a good thing, and talking to him just reinforced that opinion.
Catching up on some Worcester hockey news from over the last week, it was announced recently that former Worcester IceCats forward Jim Bermingham will be one of the inductees into the ECHL Hall of Fame. He will be formally inducted as part of the 12th class of the ECHL Hall of Fame at a luncheon that will be held in conjunction with the 2019 CCM/ECHL All Star Classic in Toldeo, Ohio on January 20th. Bermingham joins Chris Valicevic(2008-inaugural class) and Allan Sirois (2016) as players with a Worcester IceCats connection that are in the ECHL Hall of Fame.
The three stars of the game were
1) ORL – 20 Michael Brodzinski
2) WOR – 21 Matthew Gaudreau
3) ORL – 16 Chris LeBlanc
The 210Sports Player of the Game was Tyler Barnes.
Even Strength Lines
Almeida / Holmstrom / Barnes
Gaudreau / Sorkin / Bligh
Hudson / Willick / Kosorenkov
McKenzie / Cornell
Mueller / Doherty
Vanier / MacKinnon
Orlando 0 1 2 1 – 4
Worcester 0 0 3 0 – 3
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Gogol Orl (tripping), 6:43; Cornell Wor (hooking), 13:55; Olson Orl (high-sticking), 16:48.
2nd Period-1, Orlando, Shaw 9 (Donaghey, Bourke), 18:43 (PP). Penalties-Spencer Orl (roughing), 4:40; Doherty Wor (roughing), 4:40; Spencer Orl (cross-checking), 14:41; Block Wor (high-sticking), 14:41; Hudson Wor (elbowing), 17:29.
3rd Period-2, Worcester, Kosorenkov 4 (Holmstrom, Barnes), 2:23 (PP). 3, Orlando, LeBlanc 1 (Monfredo), 6:34. 4, Orlando, Olson 2 (LeBlanc), 8:46. 5, Worcester, Barnes 4 (Cornell, Mueller), 11:02 (PP). 6, Worcester, Gaudreau 2 16:14. Penalties-Lough Orl (hooking), 1:44; Vanier Wor (tripping), 3:57; Thompson Orl (delay of game), 10:34; LeBlanc Orl (delay of game), 18:11.
OT Period-7, Orlando, Brodzinski 4 (Bourke, LeBlanc), 0:33. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Orlando 10-8-13-1-32. Worcester 8-7-18-1-34.
Power Play Opportunities-Orlando 1 / 3; Worcester 2 / 5.
Goalies-Orlando, Stewart 1-0-0-0 (34 shots-31 saves). Worcester, Millen 0-0-1-0 (32 shots-28 saves).
Referees-Jacob Rekucki (20).
Linesmen-Kyle Richetelle (73), Sam Schildkraut (86).