After Saturday night’s collapse the Worcester Railers were looking for some payback against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, and knew they needed more offense to get themselves back into the win column.
It was the Railers that once again opened the scoring in Greenville, and like Saturday night it was a power play tally. Ryan MacKinnon started the puck on its way toward the net with pass to Mike Cornell just inside the blueline. Cornell fired a hard shot on net where Tyler Barnes tipped it past Swamp Rabbits goaltender Chris Nell at 2:27.
Worcester carried the play throughout the opening period but couldn’t get another one into the net. They ended the stanza with 14 shots, with only newcomer Bo Brauer and alternate captain Barry Almeida failing to get a shot on goal for the forwards.
Almeida picked up his shot early in the second, but everyone will know the exact time Brauer got his first shot of the game as it went in to give the Railers a 2-0 lead. Matt Schmalz flipped the pick into the Greenville zone where it was collected by Tommy Kelly along the right wing boards. Brauer headed to the net and was yelling to Kelly for the pass, and Kelly’s backhander along the ice was one-timed by Brauer just insider the far post at 12:48.
With time winding down on the second period Almeida made it 3-0 when he took a Dylan Willick feed and beat Nell clean. At the time no one knew how big that goal would be.
The Railers came out to start the third period flat and the Swamp Rabbits took advantage grabbing their first goal of the game 52 second into the stanza when Austen Brassard tried to wrap around the net and missed but Brendan Harms was there to bang it home past Worcester goaltender Mitch Gillam.
The Swamp Rabbits made it a one goal game at 7:35 when Garrett Milan took Stephen Pierog’s feed in the right wing circle and one-timed it past Gillam.
From there the Railers played some rope-a-dope defense not allowing Greenville open paths to the net and cutting down shooting lanes. It’s hard to watch but it worked as Worcester got their first win of the new year.
The Railers return home early tomorrow morning and next play Saturday night at the DCU center against the Reading Royals.
Scratches for the Railers were Malcolm Gould (14-day IR/lower), Kyle McKenzie (14-day IR/upper), David Quenneville (day to day/upper), Yanick Turcotte (suspended indefinitely pending review), and Alex Vanier (suspended, game one of one). Evan Buitenhuis was the back-up goaltender. At 4:11 of the second period Ivan Kosorenkov was penalized for kneeing, and that was the last we saw of him in the game. Late in the third period it was mentioned in the broadcast he was sitting in the stands. One has to presume he suffered some sort of injury on the play.
Sunday morning the results of Saturday night’s late third period altercation were announced, and as it says in the scratches Yanick Turcotte was suspended indefinitely pending review by the ECHL, and Alex Vanier received a one game suspension. If the ECHL hits Turcotte with an “abuse of officials” suspension, something he was absolutely guilty of, he’s looking at seven games or more under rule 40.3.
Bo Brauer, recently acquired from the Atlanta Gladiators as the “future considerations” in the trade that sent Nick Bligh down south, made his Railers debut Sunday and the Notre Dame graduate is every bit of the 6’3″ he’s listed at. The Edina, Minnesota native is wearing the #15 with Worcester, and is the sixth player in Railers franchise history to do so. In an oddity, the #15 jersey has been worn by the most players in franchise history but for the fewest number of games, nine counting Sunday, for any non-goaltender number.
Entering play in Sunday the Railers are potentially headed into the ECHL record books for offensive futility. Worcester started the day averaging 2.24 goals per game, which if it stays in that area would be the fourth worst season in ECHL history. The Wichita Thunder averaged 2.08 goals per game in 2015-16 (150 goals in 72 games), the 2005-06 Phoenix RoadRunners are second lowest at 2.17 per game (156 goals in 72 games), and the 2007-08 Pensacola Ice Pilots are third worst at 2.18 (157 goals in 72 games). At the Railers current pace they’ll score 161 goals, which will also be fourth worst behind those other three clubs.
Just to complete the record, last season Worcester finished with a 2.69 average goals per game. The lowest the IceCats ever finished was 2.59 in 2003-04, and they won their first round playoff series over the Manchester Monarchs before being swept in the second round by the Hartford Wolf Pack. The WorSharks lowest was in 2013-14 where they finished at 2.49 per game, and they were nowhere close to making the playoffs as they finished 12 points behind the eighth placed Norfolk Admirals in the AHL’s Eastern Conference.
The three stars of the game were
1. WOR – 19 Barry Almeida
2. GRN – 10 Garrett Milan
3. GRN – 7 Adam Larkin
The 210Sports Player of the Game is Bo Brauer.
Even Strength Lines
Almeida / Willick / Hudson
Holmstrom / Sorkin / Barnes
Schmalz / Kelley / Kosorenkov
Mueller / Cornell
Doherty / MacKinnon
Panico / Adams
Worcester 1 2 0 – 3
Greenville 0 0 2 – 2
1st Period-1, Worcester, Barnes 11 (Cornell, MacKinnon), 2:27 (PP). Penalties-Duchesne Grn (hooking), 1:10; Cornell Wor (hooking), 12:38.
2nd Period-2, Worcester, Brauer 1 (Schmalz, Kelley), 12:48. 3, Worcester, Almeida 10 (Willick), 19:11. Penalties-Kosorenkov Wor (kneeing), 4:11; Faiella Grn (hooking), 6:44.
3rd Period-4, Greenville, Harms 6 (Brassard, Larkin), 0:52. 5, Greenville, Milan 2 (Pierog, Larkin), 7:35. Penalties-Almeida Wor (high-sticking), 2:31; Pelech Grn (boarding), 15:18.
Shots on Goal-Worcester 14-18-9-41. Greenville 7-6-17-30.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 1 / 3; Greenville 0 / 3.
Goalies-Worcester, Gillam 9-9-0-1 (30 shots-28 saves). Greenville, Nell 9-10-0-2 (41 shots-38 saves).
Referees-Alex Normandin (26).
Linesmen-Shane Gustafson (87), Julien Fournier (83).