The Worcester Railers headed to Portland, Maine Sunday afternoon to take on the Mariners in a battle between ECHL North Division Rivals.
With each team having Saturday night off the squads both came out of the gate looking to set the tone, and just 25 seconds into the contest Yanick Turcotte and Alex Adams decided to drop the gloves. That was a mistake by Adams as Turcotte landed shot after shot on Adams before the linesmen came to his rescue.
A couple minutes later Luke Stork took a run at Railers captain Mike Cornell, and when Cornell challenged him Stork turtled. Referee Jeremy Tufts, who often sees a different game than the fans do, decided to send only Cornell. Worcester was able to kill that penalty.
They weren’t so lucky the next time Tufts called penalties, giving defenseman Alex Vanier a rare double penalty for cross checking and slashing after Tufts ignored an obvious slew-foot by the Mariners. After the Railers killed the first two minutes Tufts didn’t call anything when Barry Almeida was interfered with in the open ice, and on the ensuing break into the Worcester zone Ryan Ferrill gave Maine the 1-0 lead at 12:32 of the opening period.
The officiating played no role in the two goals the Railers gave up in the second period, with Ryan Gropp backhanding the rebound of Garrett Cecere’s shot over Worcester goaltender Evan Buitenhuis at 12:15 and Justin Breton making it 3-0 Maine at 16:30.
The Railers finally found a way to beat Maine netminder Brandon Halverson in the early third period when David Quenneville gathered a turnover at center ice and fed Nick Sorkin into the Mariners zone. Sorkin fired a hard shot about 15-feet out and beat Halverson blocker side at 5:01.
Just 1:52 later Sorkin would strike again, from almost the same exact spot. Matty Gaudreau had the puck behind the Maine net and found Sorkin all alone in front. His pass was right on the tape of Sorkin’s stick, and he fired it high over Halverson and just under the crossbar at 6:53. Cornell had the secondary assist.
The 1:52 between Sorkin’s goals make it the fastest two goals by a single player in Railers franchise history.
From there Worcester swarmed the net trying to get the game tying goal, but Halverson stood tall to preserve the Mariners lead, and even got the primary assist on Morgan Adams-Moisan’s 175-foot empty net goal with 70 seconds remaining in the game for the 4-2 final.
The Railers 18 third period shots are a franchise record for a road third period, and Ryan Hitchcock’s nine shots on goal are a franchise best for a road game.
Scratches for the Railers were Malcolm Gould (14-day IR/upper), Tommy Kelley (14-day IR/upper), Kyle McKenzie (14-day IR/upper), Tommy Panico, Matt Schmalz (travel), and Dylan Willick. Ryan Hubbard was the back-up goaltender, but with Robin Lehner being back to full health for the New York Islanders we should see Mitch Gillam heading back to the Railers soon as Christopher Gibson was reassigned to the Sound Tigers Sunday morning.
Head Coach and General Manager Jamie Russell made a couple trades on the team’s off-day on Saturday, shipping Nick Bligh off to the Atlanta Gladiators for future considerations and getting Matt Schmalz from the Orlando Solar Bears for future considerations. Bligh played well in his stint with the Railers, going 5-4-9 in 19 games. Schmalz is a 6’6″ forward who played for Manchester last season, going 23-27-40 in 59 games. He’s split time between Orlando and the Wichita Thunder this season.
There’s been scoring changes on the first two Worcester goals for Friday’s 3-1 win over Brampton. In both cases Alex Vanier loses secondary assist and Mike Cornell gains them. It was pretty clear on the video that Sorkin’s goal was assisted by Cornell but the highlight video of Gaudreau’s goal didn’t go back enough to see the entry pass. The fact Cornell was in the zone when the goal was scored made it likely the assist should have been his.
Monday will see the Worcester Railers Booster Club holding their Holiday Party at the DCU Center that the team and front office staff will attend. Last year’s party saw approximately $1,950 worth of toys donated by attendees of the party, and the Booster Club added $1,050 worth of toys and gift cards to bring the total to $3,000 that was given over to The Friendly House for distribution to families in need. While this is the second year of the Railers the Booster Club goes back to the Worcester Sharks days and beyond, and they have donated over $85,000 to local charities and causes over the years in addition to the their holiday toy drives.
Through Sunday’s game Barry Almeida is the leader in first period goals on the Railers with three. He and the now-traded Nick Bligh lead in the second period, also at three. Tyler Barnes has four third period goals to lead Worcester. Dylan Willick and Josh Holmstrom have the only overtime goals for the Railers. Last season Almeida also lead the team in goals in the first period (eight) and second period (nine). Woody Hudson and Patrick McNally led Worcester in third period goals at eight, and impressive feat for McNally when you realize he left the team on January 1st.
On this date in Worcester hockey history: December 9, 2011 had the WorSharks in St. John’s to take on the IceCaps, where Tommy Wingles scored the game winner at 15:53 of the third for the 4-3 WorSharks win. Benn Ferriero had two goals and an assist for Worcester while John McCarthy tacked on three assists. In 2012 the WorSharks were in Manchester and beat the AHL Monarchs 3-2 on third period goals by Brodie Reid and Tim Kennedy.
The three stars of the game were
1) MNE – 18 Ryan Ferrill
2) WOR – 8 Nick Sorkin
3) MNE – 35 Brandon Halverson
The 210Sports Player of the Game was David Quenneville.
Even Strength Lines
Almeida / Hitchcock / Barnes
Gaudreau / Holmstrom / Sorkin
Hudson / Block / Kosorenkov
Mueller / Cornell
Doherty / Quenneville
Vanier / MacKinnon
Worcester 0 0 2 – 2
Maine 1 2 1 – 4
1st Period-1, Maine, Ferrill 3 (McNicholas, Salvaggio), 12:32 (PP). Penalties-Turcotte Wor (fighting – major), 0:25; Adams Mne (fighting – major), 0:25; Cornell Wor (unsportsmanlike conduct), 2:59; Vanier Wor (cross-checking, slashing), 9:59.
2nd Period-2, Maine, Gropp 2 (Cecere, Ferrill), 12:15. 3, Maine, Breton 3 (Day, Stork), 16:30. Penalties-Kalisz Mne (holding), 1:40; Adams Mne (cross-checking), 9:31.
3rd Period-4, Worcester, Sorkin 2 (Quenneville), 5:01. 5, Worcester, Sorkin 3 (Cornell, Gaudreau), 6:53. 6, Maine, Adams-Moisan 5 (Halverson), 18:50 (EN). Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Worcester 9-15-18-42. Maine 11-12-4-27.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 0 / 2; Maine 1 / 3.
Goalies-Worcester, Buitenhuis 5-5-2-0 (26 shots-23 saves). Maine, Halverson 8-5-0-1 (42 shots-40 saves).
Referees-Jeremy Tufts (6).
Linesmen-Nathan Frechette (30), Kyle Richetelle (73).