The Worcester Railers and Newfoundland Growlers met again Saturday night at the DCU Center in a pre-storm rematch from Friday night with the Railers looking to make it five wins in a row for the first time this season.
Things did not start of well for Worcester as the Growlers jumped to a quick 1-0 lead just 3:23 into the contest when Brady Ferguson gathered the rebound of Kristians Rubins’ shot and put it into the empty net behind Railers goaltender Mitch Gillam.
Worcester would get it back to even after a nice play by Nick Sorkin. He picked off a cross zone pass in his own end, and broke out of the zone heading toward the right wing side. He then stopped and waited as the Railers streamed into the attacking zone behind him, finding trailer Ivan Kosorenkov. The Russian-born rookie went hard to the net, firing the puck over Growlers netminder Michael Garteig and in at 6:09.
The play that turned the game happened at 18:24 of the period when Ferguson threw a high open-ice head hit on Tyler Mueller. With the rookie defenseman down captain Mike Cornell chased Ferguson into the Newfoundland zone slashing him a couple time to get Ferguson to fight. With Mueller down behind the play soon all the players scrummed at the left wing boards in the Growlers end.
After the scrum of players was separated referee Jarred Mitrano completely botched the penalty calls. Ignoring the fact the official scorer had them entered incorrectly for the entire game, referee Mitrano gave Ferguson a match penalty for the illegal check to Mueller’s head, but inexplicably gave Cornell a major for slashing and a game misconduct.
The video clearly shows that what Cornell did was barely a minor penalty.
Now down to four defenseman Connor Doherty showed why he’s so important to the team, playing a massive amount of minutes over the rest of the game that included at least two shifts that were well over 90 seconds long. It was unfortunately just a matter of time before the high-flying Growlers would take advantage of the tired Worcester defense.
Newfoundland took the lead at 9:19 of the second period on a shot that Gillam probably wants another chance at as Sam Babintsev’s bid snuck between Gillam and the near post. Zach O’Brien made it 3-1 at 14:48 after the Railers made a couple of pee-wee level errors.
In the third period Worcester kept playing hard and did have some offensive chances, but the tired back end slowly took its toll as the Growlers would grab another goal at 9:25 when Ryan Moore connected on the power play. Derian Plouffe scored another Newfoundland goal at 10:50 for the eventual 5-1 final.
Toward the middle of the period forward Bo Brauer skated a couple of shifts on defense, and later in the game with Alex Vanier in the dressing room after blocking a shot Brauer played about every fourth shift on the blue line.
The ECHL unofficial All-Star break begins on Sunday. The Railers are back in action Friday night in Glens Falls, New York with the first of a home and home against the Adirondack Thunder.
Scratches for the Railers were Malcolm Gould (14-day IR/lower), Kyle McKenzie (14-day IR/upper), Tommy Panico (lower body), Nick Roberto, and Yanick Turcotte (suspended, game five of five). Like Friday night, Evan Buitenhuis was the backup goaltender. On Saturday Worcester released defenseman Kevin Hart. The plan was for him to play both games this weekend, but with the Sound Tigers re-assigning Mike Cornell to the Railers Hart was no longer needed. Presuming he clears waivers, and he should considering he’s nothing but an emergency player, he might be called on again if help is needed on the blueline.
More on last night’s game winner by Matt Schmalz…after looking at the replay on the Daktronics board the Growlers wanted referee Alexander Ross to review the goal for potential goaltender interference. It turns out that Ross didn’t just decide he wouldn’t, but that the current replay test doesn’t allow it. According to the ECHL any potential goaltender interference is not currently reviewable. All that can be reviewed is if the puck is over the goal line, if it was illegally kicked or batted in, and/or if the net is on the pegs. A look at the rules the AHL uses for video replay shows they do not allow reviews for goaltender interference either.
Sunday’s storm caused some travel issues for the Growlers with their flight to Toronto from Logan Airport in Boston being canceled. During the usual pregame gathering in the radio booth they still didn’t know what they’re travel plans were going to be. It’s also possible the storm will prevent Mitch Gillam from getting to the ECHL All-Star game in Toledo, Ohio. The Railers were uncertain of his status yesterday pregame, only saying they knew that driving there was not a possibility.
On this date in Worcester hockey history…in 2005 the Icecats lost 2-0 to Manchester in a game where Mike Glumac beat Monarchs goaltender Mathieu Garon three times but not only didn’t score he also didn’t register a shot on goal. All three hit the posts behind Garon, anecdotally the most a Worcester player has hit the iron in a single game…in 2007 Graham Mink had two goals to lead the WorSharks over the Lowell Devils 3-1. Thomas Greiss picked up the win with 24 saves on the night…2011 saw PTO defenseman Jody Pederson put up two of his three career AHL points as the WorSharks defeated the Portland Pirates 5-3. Nick Schaus, Tommy Wingels, and Brandon Mashinter also had multiple point nights for Worcester. Alex Stalock earned the win and assisted on the empty net goal…2018 had Railers captain Chris Langkow assisting on three goals in the Railers 4-1 win over Manchester. Worcester scored two shorthanded goals, one each by Ashton Rome and Kellen Jones. Eamon McAdam had the 28 save win.
The three stars of the game were
1. NFL – 7 Sam Babintsev
2. NFL – 10 Zach O’Brien
3. WOR – 28 Connor Doherty
The 210Sports Player of the Game is Connor Doherty.
Even Strength Lines
Almeida / Hitchcock / Barnes
Brauer / Kelley / Schmalz
Sorkin / Willick / Kosorenkov
Mueller / Cornell
Doherty / Quenneville
Vanier / MacKinnon
Newfoundland 1 2 2 – 5
Worcester 1 0 0 – 1
1st Period-1, Newfoundland, Ferguson 15 (Rubins, Estephan), 3:23. 2, Worcester, Kosorenkov 6 (Sorkin), 6:09. Penalties-Ferguson Nfl (match – illegal check to head), 18:24; Melindy Nfl (roughing), 18:24; Cornell Wor (slashing – major, game misconduct – slashing), 18:24; Hudson Wor (roughing), 18:24.
2nd Period-3, Newfoundland, Babintsev 9 9:19. 4, Newfoundland, O’Brien 15 (Babintsev), 14:48. Penalties-Estephan Nfl (tripping), 15:11; served by Brauer Wor (bench – too many men), 16:54.
3rd Period-5, Newfoundland, Moore 9 (Molino, Babintsev), 9:25 (PP). 6, Newfoundland, Pooley 18 (Estephan), 10:50. Penalties-MacKinnon Wor (delay of game), 8:11.
Shots on Goal-Newfoundland 16-8-17-41. Worcester 9-5-9-23.
Power Play Opportunities-Newfoundland 1 / 2; Worcester 0 / 1.
Goalies-Newfoundland, Garteig 16-9-1-0 (23 shots-22 saves). Worcester, Gillam 11-10-0-1 (41 shots-36 saves).
Referees-Jarred Mitrano (14).
Linesmen-Shane Kanaly (39), Stephen Drain (77).