The Worcester Railers headed to Portland, Maine to take on the Mariners at the Cross Insurance Arena looking to continue their offensive outburst that started before the ECHL’s holiday break.
Things looked good as the Railers jumped out to a quick lead when Mike Cornell sent Matty Gaudreau in all alone on a breakaway down the right wing side. Gaudreau cut to the net, and when Maine goaltender Brandon Halverson attempted a half-hearted poke check Gaudreau simply skated past him and slid the puck into the open net at 6:13 of the first period.
The Railers would make it 2-0 on how a power play goal is supposed to look. Ryan MacKinnon fed Gaudreau over on the left wide, and Gaudreau fired a shot on goal that Halverson made a fairly routine save on. Woody Hudson was standing all alone in front, and as soon as the rebound hit the ice Hudson flipped it back on net and over Halverson at 17:26.
Unfortunately for the rest of the game the ice was tilted toward the Worcester end as they allowed a franchise record tying 20 second period shots, with one getting past Railers netminder Mitch Gillam at 9:37 when Ryan Culkin found Greg Chase standing all alone at the far post. Chase just casually tipped the puck into the net to cut Worcester’s lead in half. Ty Ronning had the secondary assist.
Maine tied it 2-2 at 14:00 of the third on a goal Gillam claimed never crossed the goal line. The Mariners had several bids on the net after the Railers had killed a penalty, and in the ensuing play Michael McNicholas appeared to jam the puck inside the post and past Gillam. Referee Steven Rouillard, who had missed lots of calls in the contest, quickly signaled goal. Gillam disagreed and fired his blocker behind the net in anger.
The score remained tied through the rest of regulation and overtime. In the shootout Ivan Kosorenkov scored for Worcester in the first round, but Maine scored on their next to attempts for the 3-2 win.
The two teams meet again Saturday at the DCU Center.
Scratches for the Railers were Alex Adams, Austin Block, Malcolm Gould (14-day IR/lower), Kyle McKenzie (14-day IR/upper), David Quenneville (day to day/upper), Yanick Turcotte (day to day/lower). Evan Buitenhuis, back from his bereavement leave, was the back-up goaltender. On the pregame show play by play man Eric Lindquist called McKenzie “close” to returning.
Maine wore a Nickelodeon “Double Dare” specialty jersey that was, to be kind, terrible. It was bright orange with white and orange checkerboard striping on the lower jersey and arms. It had “Maine Mariners” in the “Double Dare” font on the front over a splotch of slime that the show is famous for. The numbers, also set on top of a slime splotch, were virtually unreadable. With all the call-ups for Maine there were a lot of players in unfamiliar numbers, which proved to be an issue for Lindquist. The Railers will be wearing Nickelodeon themed jerseys on March 9th, and hopefully they won’t be the same ones Maine wore.
Presuming the Railers send the tape of the game in to the league the ECHL should have a busy morning reviewing a play that could have caused significant injury. It happened 42 seconds into the second period when Morgan Adams-Moisan drove Tyler Barnes into the board from behind on what was an obvious charge. Referee Steven Rouillard chose not to make a call on the play. Worcester captain Mike Cornell then went after Adams-Moisan, and despite it being Adams-Moisan violating “the code” by throwing punches while the players were on the ice Rouillard assessed both with “continuing altercation” misconducts.
Later in the game Adams-Moisan speared Ryan MacKinnon right in front of referee Rouillard. By rule that’s an automatic five-minute major and a game misconduct. Rouillard assessed a slashing minor. Perhaps it’s Rouillard that should be reviewed.
Barry Almeida’s kneeing minor in the second period was the 35,000th and 35,001st penalty minutes in Worcester pro hockey history counting both the regular season and playoffs. “Mr. IceCats” Terry Virtue has by far the most of any player that contributed to that total, notching 1,201 total minutes.
With it being the first game of the week it’s once again time to take a look at last week’s “Railers Player of the Week” voting over on the Facebook Railers Fans Group, and Tyler Barnes was the runaway winner with 40 of the 50 votes cast as of Friday morning. Ryan MacKinnon and Nick Sorkin were the other two nominees.
Throughout Worcester hockey history the game after the holiday break hasn’t been all that good for teams that hail from the city, as counting the Railers 3-2 shootout loss their record now stands at 7-9-4 with two ties. Last season had the Railers in Reading after the holiday break, where they lost 6-2 in a game they were never really in. Eamon McAdam took the loss and was relieved by Mitch Gillam for the third period.
We don’t usually mention transactions for the opponents unless they’re noteworthy, and the Mariners signing former Boston Bruins first round pick Hannu Toivonen (#29, 2002) falls into that category. Toivonen played 17 games against the IceCats and Worcester Sharks while he was with the Providence Bruins, going 8-8-1 with a 2.37 goals against average and a .912 save percentage in those contests. His stats were similar against both the IceCats (4-5-1, 2.40, .916) and WorSharks (4-3-0, 2.32, .904).
The three stars of the game were
1) MNE – 13 Michael McNicholas
2) MNE – 8 Ryan Culkin
3) WOR – 21 Matty Gaudreau
The 210Sports Player of the Game is Mitch Gillam.
Even Strength Lines
Almeida / Schmalz / Kosorenkov
Sorkin / Holmstrom / Barnes
Gaudreau / Kelley / Hudson
Mueller / Cornell
Doherty / Vanier
Panico / MacKinnon
Worcester 2 0 0 0 – 2
Maine 0 1 1 0 – 3
1st Period-1, Worcester, Gaudreau 6 (Cornell), 6:13. 2, Worcester, Hudson 4 (Gaudreau, MacKinnon), 17:26 (PP). Penalties-Furgele Mne (holding), 17:19; Panico Wor (tripping), 18:17.
2nd Period-3, Maine, Chase 4 (Culkin, Ronning), 9:37. Penalties-Cornell Wor (fighting – major, misconduct – continuing altercation), 0:42; Adams-Moisan Mne (fighting – major, misconduct – continuing altercation), 0:42; Sorkin Wor (fighting – major), 7:13; Pratt Mne (fighting – major), 7:13; Savage Mne (hooking), 10:26; Almeida Wor (kneeing), 15:43.
3rd Period-4, Maine, McNicholas 7 (Culkin, Salvaggio), 14:00. Penalties-Adams-Moisan Mne (slashing), 1:34; Vanier Wor (roughing), 5:04; Salvaggio Mne (slashing), 11:09; Kosorenkov Wor (interference), 11:45.
OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Cornell Wor (tripping), 4:37.
Shootout – Worcester 1 (Kosorenkov G, Kelley NG, Gaudreau NG), Maine 2 (Ronning NG, Kile G, McNicholas G).
Shots on Goal-Worcester 14-8-8-2-0-32. Maine 11-20-7-3-1-42.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 1 / 4; Maine 0 / 5.
Goalies-Worcester, Gillam 8-8-0-1 (41 shots-39 saves). Maine, Halverson 12-6-0-1 (32 shots-30 saves).
Referees-Steven Rouillard (3).
Linesmen-Nathan Frechette (30), Sam Schildkraut (86).