After being shutout Friday night the Worcester Railers were looking for a little more offense at the DCU Center Saturday night in their tilt against the Maine Mariners.
The Railers got on the board first with a nice power play goal that couldn’t have been drawn up any better. Tyler Mueller received a pass from along the left wing half boards to his spot on the left point. He threw a cross ice pass to Mike Cornell stationed along the blue line, and Cornell blasted one on net that Nick Sorkin deflected over Maine goaltender Branden Halverson at 15:03 of the opening period.
And with it being “Teddy Bear Toss” night the stuffed animals started raining down on the ice. The several hundred stuffed animals collected will be donated to local charities.
The Mariners would get the equalizer on a power play goal of their own at 18:41 of the second period, although one has to wonder if they should have been on the power play at all.
It all started with referee Jarred Mitrano throwing his arm up to call a well deserved slashing penalty on Tyler Barnes. As play continued on the delayed penalty Barnes absolutely jacked up Maine defenseman John Furgele with a textbook open ice body check just as Furgele carried the puck into the Worcester zone. As is often the case with huge hits referees feel pressured to call a penalty, so Mitrano tacked on an elbowing minor. He then assessed Mariners defenseman Brycen Martin an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for trying to go after Barnes.
The problem there is Barnes didn’t throw an elbow on the shoulder to shoulder hit. Had the play been called correctly it would have been four skaters each, but instead the Mariners found themselves with the man advantage.
So on to the power play Maine went, and after the Mariners passed the puck along the outside defenseman Sean Day fired one on goal from up high that hit a body in front and banked past Worcester goaltender Evan Buitenhuis to make it 1-1.
Through regulation and overtime the score remained tied, and in the shootout Sorkin scored for the Railers but it wasn’t enough as Mike McNicholas and Alex Kile connected for Maine to give them the 2-1 win.
The six shots the Railers had in overtime is a new franchise mark, and the five saves Buitenhuis made in the extra session is also a team record.
The Railers head to Brampton for another school day game Wednesday against the Beast, and then return to the DCU Center for games Friday and Saturday before the Christmas break.
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), Yanick Turcotte, and Alex Vanier. Mitch Gillam was the back-up goaltender. With about four minutes left in the second period defenseman David Quenneville was hit in the face with a deflected puck and went to the dressing room trailing blood behind him. He did not return to the game.
For the second time in as many games, and in an event that occurs far too often to the Railers, an opponent crashed into their goaltender. Friday night it was Mitch Gillam getting hit, and on Saturday it was Maine forward Michael McNicholas sliding into Evan Buitenhuis. No real hockey fan would ever suggest the Railers should run the opposing goaltender on purpose, but with all the “accidental” times it happens to the Railers perhaps it should “accidentally” happen on the other end of the ice at some point.
During the game this writer had Worcester beating Maine netminder Branden Halverson six times, which does not include Nick Sorkin’s shootout goal. Ivan Kosorenkov, Tyler Mueller, and Tyler Barnes all hit the iron behind Halverson. Two shots broke through Halverson, one rolled wide behind him and one was pulled off the Mariners goal line by a defenseman. The goal by Sorkin in the first period makes six. When a team is having trouble putting the puck in the net the five misses listed hurt even more.
In the overtime period Head Coach Jamie Russell didn’t use Dylan Willick at all. Willick is one of two Railers players with an overtime goal this season. Josh Holmstrom is the other. He did use Woody Hudson, who hasn’t had a point in 13 games played since November 15th against Adirondack. I get with sticking with certain players that have histories of producing, but overtime is maybe not the right time to hope your cold guy gets hot.
The 50/50 raffles held by the Worcester Railers Booster Club on Friday and Saturday night benefited the Ava Roy Fund. Several people bought tickets and then donated those tickets to the fund itself, giving the Ava Roy Fund a chance to receive the whole pot. All told there were over 700 chances of that happening, but the winning number was not on any of those donated tickets. Counting the half of both pots plus donations collected Booster Club President Rich Lundin said the Booster Club would then “round up” the total to $2,500.
Friday night an intermission conversation turned to what the NHL leaders were in various stats for former Worcester IceCats players. It wasn’t something that anyone knew off the top of their heads, and trying to figure it out using a smartphone turned into what should become a comedy sketch. So Saturday morning some digging into stats was done, and for the former Icecats players we have…
Games: Marc Bergevin, 1191
Goals: Gary Leeman, 199
Assists: Craig Conroy, 360
Points: Conroy, 542
PIM: Ian Laperriere, 1956
For the WorSharks NHL leaders Claude Lemieux skews the results (1215 games, 379 goals, 407 assists, 786 points, and 1777 PIM), but eventually Joe Pavelski should pass him in everything except penalty minutes.
A quick pet peeve, if I may…players need to play the game and leave the officiating to the referees and linesmen. The number of times I see players throwing their arms up because they think they see an icing or offside is mind boggling. If you’re on the bench when there’s a close call feel free to scream and yell about it, but when you’re on the ice play hard until the whistle is blown. Several times over the years this writer has seen goals scored because players decided they were officials and stopped playing while the opponent keeps working hard because there was no whistle.
The three stars of the game were
1) MNE – 35 Brandon Halverson
2) MNE – 23 Alex Kile
3) WOR – 8 Nick Sorkin
The 210Sports Player of the Game is Tyler Mueller.
Even Strength Lines
Almeida / Hitchcock / Barnes
Gaudreau / Holmstrom / Sorkin
Kosorenkov / Willick / Schmalz
Mueller / Cornell
Doherty / Quenneville
Panico / MacKinnon
Maine 0 1 0 0 – 2
Worcester 1 0 0 0 – 1
1st Period-1, Worcester, Sorkin 4 (Cornell, Mueller), 15:03 (PP). Penalties-Doherty Wor (interference), 6:52; Furgele Mne (hooking), 13:24; Mueller Wor (holding), 16:56; Doherty Wor (tripping), 19:22.
2nd Period-2, Maine, Day 5 (Kile, Salvaggio), 18:41 (PP). Penalties-served by Salvaggio Mne (bench – too many men), 1:12; Martin Mne (unsportsmanlike conduct), 18:21; Barnes Wor (slashing, elbowing), 18:21.
3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Hudson Wor (high-sticking), 7:58; Kalisz Mne (holding), 9:15.
OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties
Shootout – Maine 2 (Gropp NG, McNicholas G, Kile G), Worcester 1 (Kosorenkov NG, Almeida NG, Sorkin G).
Shots on Goal-Maine 5-7-8-5-1-26. Worcester 9-13-19-6-0-47.
Power Play Opportunities-Maine 1 / 5; Worcester 1 / 3.
Goalies-Maine, Halverson 10-6-0-1 (47 shots-46 saves). Worcester, Buitenhuis 5-5-2-1 (25 shots-24 saves).
Referees-Jarred Mitrano (14).
Linesmen-Kyle Richetelle (73), Shane Kanaly (39).