The Worcester Railers and Newfoundland Growlers met for the second time in two days Saturday night at the Mile One Center in St. John’s with Worcester looking for their first win on the road against the Growlers in their last visit to The Rock this regular season.
Unlike Friday night when Newfoundland struck first it was the Railers jumping out to an early lead on their first shot of the game at 1:36 when Matty Gaudreau chased down a loose puck behind the Growlers net and sent a backhand pass to Nick Sorkin out front. With Newfoundland goaltender Michael Garteig moving out to cut down the angle Sorkin found Josh Holmstrom all alone at the far post. Holmstrom had most of the 24 square feet of net to shoot at and slid it along the ice for the 1-0 lead.
The old hockey adage is don’t give up goals in the first or last minute of a period, and unfortunately for Worcester they did just that when Marcus Power broke into the Worcester zone all alone and beat Railers netminder Mitch Gillam on a breakaway goal just 40 seconds into the middle period to tie the game.
But Worcester seemed unaffected by the goal and continued to press the Growlers, and while it took half the second period the Railers capitalized on their play in the offensive zone with a tally that legendary Newfoundland broadcaster Brian Rogers, who is one of this writer’s favorite minor league hockey radio men, called “a cheesy goal”.
It all began innocently enough when Holmstrom fired the puck along the boards from the right wing side to behind the Growlers net. Gaudreau gathered the puck just to the left wing side of the net and while still behind the goal line spun around and fired a backhander toward the crease. The puck slid past Garteig’s right leg and then banked off his left skate and into the net at 10:45.
Referee Jason Faist, who had a less than stellar game Friday night and hadn’t called a penalty at all in the first half of the game, apparently remembered he had a whistle and called back to back borderline penalties on Worcester. It was on the second penalty that Tyler Barnes made a little franchise history.
While on the penalty kill Ryan MacKinnon pushed a puck toward Barnes and the forward raced toward the Growlers zone with Tommy Kelley joining him on the two on one rush. Barnes kept it the entire way himself and beat Garteig to the glove side as the water bottle rocketed into the air at 16:08. It was the Railers first shortie of the season, and a franchise record four games in a row with a goal for Barnes. He also ties the franchise mark with a six game points streak.
Up 3-1 heading into the third period the teams knew the next goal would be huge, and the dagger to the hearts of the Newfoundland players was a nice goal by tough-guy Yanick Turcotte. It was all started by an entry into the Growlers zone that looked slightly less than perfect. Mike Cornell was able to get the loose puck at the right wing half boards and with a quick backhand pass sent Kelley and Turcotte in on Garteig. Kelley froze the netminder and hit Turcotte with another backhand pass, and Turcotte got just enough of it to beat Garteig at 3:41.
Worcester entered the game without having scored a shorthanded goal, but they ended it with two that both looked similar. The second was at 9:12 of the third by Ryan Hitchcock after being sent into the zone by Gaudreau. Hitchcock, just like Barnes, was on the left wing side and beat Garteig to the glove side. Hitchcock’s shot also moved the water bottle, but Barnes’ tally threw the bottle up much higher.
Ivan Kosorenkov had a golden opportunity to give the Railers a sixth goal of the game, but the Worcester forward fanned on his penalty shot attempt at 11:52.
With 4.5 seconds remaining in the game there was a gathering of the player in front of the Railers net, with Turcotte and Growlers defenseman Evan Neugold both receiving double minors for roughing and a ten-minute misconduct. Postgame the box score listed Alex Vanier as receiving a match penalty for an illegal check to the head, although this writer did not see that anywhere on the video nor was anything like that even mentioned at all on the Worcester radio broadcast. The match penalty means Vanier is suspended indefinitely by the ECHL until they rule on the play.
The Railers will return to the DCU Center for three games next weekend, their only three home dates in February.
Scratches for the Railers were Bo Brauer, Malcolm Gould, Woody Hudson, Kyle McKenzie (14-day IR/upper/out for season), Tyler Mueller (14-day IR/upper), Matt Schmalz (14-day IR/upper). Evan Buitenhuis was the back-up goaltender.
While most of us are sleeping, and long before this gets posted to the blog, the Railers will be headed back to Worcester from St John’s with a very early wake up call to get on the bus for 3:15am “Newfie time”. Instead of flying west into Toronto and then back east to Logan Airport in Boston the team will fly from The Rock to Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Nova Scotia. From there it’s a short hop to Boston. If all goes according to plan–although how often does that happen?–the Railers will be back in the city long before kickoff for the Super Bowl.
On February 2nd in Worcester hockey history…in 2005 Peter Sejna had a goal and an assist and Curtis Sanford had 27 saves in the IceCats 4-2 win over Springfield. Jon DiSalvatore had an unassisted shorthanded goal in the second period, and Igor Valeev had two assists for his only multi-point game for Worcester…in 2007 Grant Stevenson had a goal and two assists and Tom Cavanagh tacked on three helpers in the WorSharks 6-2 win over Bridgeport. Garrett Stafford added a goal and an assist, and Brennen Evans had two assists…in 2008 Graham Mink had two goals and an assist in Worcester’s 3-1 win over Manchester. Dimitri Patzold had 28 saves and an assist in the contest.
The three stars of the game were
1. WOR – 21 Matthew Gaudreau
2. WOR – 12 Josh Holmstrom
3. WOR – 6 Mike Cornell
The 210Sports Player of the Game is Tyler Barnes.
Even Strength Lines
Almeida / Hitchcock / Barnes
Sorkin / Holmstrom / Gaudreau
Kosorenkov / Willick / Kelley
Doherty / Cornell
Panico / MacKinnon
Vanier / Quenneville
Worcester 1 2 2 – 5
Newfoundland 0 1 0 – 1
1st Period-1, Worcester, Holmstrom 10 (Sorkin, Gaudreau), 1:36. Penalties-No Penalties
2nd Period-2, Newfoundland, Power 16 (Bradley, Rubins), 0:40. 3, Worcester, Gaudreau 8 (Holmstrom), 10:45. 4, Worcester, Barnes 16 (MacKinnon), 16:08 (SH). Penalties-Vanier Wor (high-sticking), 11:56; Quenneville Wor (hooking), 14:27; Johnston Nfl (hooking), 16:44.
3rd Period-5, Worcester, Turcotte 2 (Kelley, Cornell), 3:41. 6, Worcester, Hitchcock 6 (Gaudreau), 9:12 (SH). Penalties-Elynuik Nfl (cross-checking), 1:17; Elynuik Nfl (roughing), 6:43; Melindy Nfl (unsportsmanlike conduct), 6:43; Kosorenkov Wor (delay of game), 9:12; Melindy Nfl (game misconduct – abuse of officials), 9:12; Vanier Wor (cross-checking), 14:48; Doherty Wor (roughing), 16:14; Kestner Nfl (roughing), 16:14; Turcotte Wor (double – roughing, misconduct – unsportsmanlike conduct), 19:55; Vanier Wor (match – illegal check to head), 19:55; Neugold Nfl (double – roughing, misconduct – unsportsmanlike conduct), 19:55.
Shots on Goal-Worcester 8-11-6-25. Newfoundland 9-6-11-26.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 0 / 4; Newfoundland 0 / 5.
Goalies-Worcester, Gillam 13-11-0-2 (26 shots-25 saves). Newfoundland, Garteig 17-10-1-0 (25 shots-20 saves).
Referees-Jason Faist (18).
Linesmen-Sheldon Keough (47), Brian Lambert (36).