The Worcester Railers and Manchester Monarchs did battle Wednesday night in the first of two contests between the clubs at the DCU Center this week with the Railers looking to get back on track after their loss to Maine on Sunday.
The two teams played a fairly even first period where neither found the back of the net. While Railers goaltender Mitch Gillam wasn’t tested often in the opening 20 minutes at the other end of the ice Monarchs netminder Chris Driedger had to contend with three Worcester power plays and a breakaway bid by Josh Holmstrom.
The Railers finally broke the scoreless tie at 3:52 of the first when Ryan MacKinnon led the rush into the Manchester zone. Monarchs defenseman David Kolomatis broke up the original attack, but the puck ended up on the stick of Ryan Hitchcock high in the slot. Hitchcock threw an easy pass over to Barry Almeida low in the right wing circle, and his shot beat Driedger low and just inside the post.
Manchester answered right back at 4:35 when Joe Pendenza lobbed a homerun pass over the entire Railers team that sent Nic Pierog in all alone. Pierog’s backhander beat Gillam to the blocker side to make it 1-1. Chris Carlisle had the second assist on the play.
Connor Doherty would give the Railers the lead back at 6:56 with a goal that surprised everyone on the ice. Doherty intercepted a clearing attempt by Matt Marcinew at the blueline right in front of the Worcester bench. Doherty then flipped the puck on net, and it deflected off the arm of Patrick Bajkov and just under the crossbar at 6:56.
With time running down in the second period Worcester found itself on their fifth power play of the game, and were having just about as much success on it as they had on their first four; which is to say it wasn’t looking good. With no one in front for a long stretch of the man advantage Holmstrom finally went to the front of the net and was there to bat the puck out of the air and in after Driedger made a pad save on Nick Sorkin’s shot from the right side. MacKinnon added his second assist of the game on the goal with 38.9 seconds remaining in the period.
The Monarchs would make a game of it with their second goal of the contest at 14:53 of the third when Marcinew’s shot deflected off a Railers defenseman and past Gillam. Carlisle and Michael Doherty had the assist on the play.
From there the Monarchs threw everything they had in trying to get the equalizer, including a late game power play where they skated some of it with a six on four advantage after pulling Driedger, but Gillam and the Railers held them at bay for the 3-2 final.
The win was Gillam’s 29th career win for Worcester, tying him for tenth all-time with Cody Rudkowsky in Worcester pro hockey history.
The two teams meet again Friday night at the DCU Center, with a 7pm puck drop.
Scratches for the Railers were Austin Block, Malcolm Gould (14-day IR/lower), Tommy Kelley (14-day IR/upper), Kyle McKenzie (14-day IR/upper), Tyler Mueller (day to day/upper), and newcomer Matt Schmalz. With Mitch Gillam being re-assigned to the Railers on Tuesday Ryan Hubbard was released and Evan Buitenhuis was the back-up goaltender. All players currently listed on injured reserve are now eligible to be activated, and word was that Mueller was expected to play at some point this upcoming weekend.
Prior to the start of the game the Railers held a moment of silence for Firefighter Christopher Roy, who died Sunday while battling a fire that displaced several families on Lowell St in the city. The Railers Booster Club donated the proceeds from their 50/50 raffle Wednesday night to Andy’s Attic, a South High School based charity that is collecting items for the families. The Railers did the same with the proceeds of their “Chuck a Puck” contest. On Friday and Saturday the collections from the Booster Club’s 50/50 raffle will go to the Ava Roy Fund.
With this being the first game of the week we’ll take a look at the “Railers Player of the Week” voting over on the Fans Facebook Group, and the winner for last week is Nick Sorkin with 24 of the 42 votes cast. Tyler Barnes and Mike Cornell were the other two nominees.
Gillam returning to the Railers resulted in a funny story. With Christopher Gibson already returned to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers from the New York islanders early Monday and Hubbard released by the Railers everyone was waiting on the Sound Tigers announcing Gillam back to Worcester. Only it never came. Inquiries to the Railers were answered with he was likely playing Wednesday but no one had any idea why he hadn’t been assigned already. Just as soon as this writer was about to tweet that information out Gillam walked through the door and into the Railers Booster Club Holiday Party.
Usually the Holiday Party doesn’t get much of a mention, but during one of the traditional events something happened that will forever be talked about at Booster Club gatherings. It’s a longstanding tradition that the team’s rookies all have to get up and tell a holiday story. Derek Army, being a “rookie” assistant coach, was also called upon to tell a story. Only unlike the others who told stories of their childhood, Army went into a scene by scene telling of “Home Alone” as if he was Kevin from the movie. It is a shame that no one knew that was going to happen and filmed it, because it was incredibly funny.
The three stars of the game were
1) WOR – 28 Connor Doherty
2) WOR – 19 Barry Almeida
3) WOR – 4 Ryan MacKinnon
The 210Sports Player of the Game was Josh Holmstrom.
Even Strength Lines
Almeida / Hitchcock / Barnes
Gaudreau / Holmstrom / Sorkin
Hudson / Willick / Kosorenkov
Cornell / Panico
Doherty / Quenneville
Vanier / MacKinnon
Manchester 0 1 1 – 2
Worcester 0 3 0 – 3
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Strand Man (tripping), 6:51; Doherty Man (tripping), 13:56; Wyszomirski Man (fighting – major), 13:56; Doherty Wor (fighting – major), 13:56; Knutson Man (delay of game), 17:02.
2nd Period-1, Worcester, Almeida 9 (Hitchcock, MacKinnon), 3:52. 2, Manchester, Pierog 11 (Pendenza, Carlisle), 4:35. 3, Worcester, Doherty 1 6:56. 4, Worcester, Holmstrom 7 (Sorkin, MacKinnon), 19:22 (PP). Penalties-Ward Man (delay of game), 11:29; Schurhamer Man (fighting – major), 14:34; Cornell Wor (fighting – major), 14:34; Carlisle Man (tripping), 17:25.
3rd Period-5, Manchester, Marcinew 7 (Carlisle, Doherty), 14:53. Penalties-Doherty Wor (interference), 16:20.
Shots on Goal-Manchester 6-7-10-23. Worcester 9-21-6-36.
Power Play Opportunities-Manchester 0 / 1; Worcester 1 / 5.
Goalies-Manchester, Driedger 5-3-0-0 (36 shots-33 saves). Worcester, Gillam 6-6-0-0 (23 shots-21 saves).
Referees-Jarred Mitrano (14).
Linesmen-Kyle Richetelle (73), Stephen Drain (77).