The Worcester Railers hosted the ECHL’s Western Conference leading Cincinnati Cyclones Sunday afternoon at the DCU Center in a game that pitted the ECHL’s top rated Cyclones’ offense against Worcester’s next to last ranked goals per game average.
One of the keys for the Railers was to not fall behind early, but that’s exactly what they did when Vasili Glotov skated across the goal mouth and beat Worcester netminder Evan Buitenhuis just 1:54 into the contest.
Even for an offense struggling like Worcester’s frequently does a one goal deficit so early isn’t that big of a deal, but when Myles Powell buried one from right in front with no defender near him to make it 2-0 Cincinnati just 5:27 into the game things started to look not so good.
The goal that should have been a dagger to the heart of the Railers came at 6:50 of the second period when Buitenhuis was struggling to pick up his dropped stick and keep the puck out of the net. Mitch Jones was able to push the puck into the net to put Worcester down 3-0.
But the Railers kept playing hard.
Though clearly outmatched offensively Worcester didn’t give an inch, and Ryan Hitchcock got the Railers on the board with a nice individual effort. With Bo Brauer fighting for a loose puck against Cincinnati winger Ben Johnson Hitchcock swept the puck away and stickhandled around defenseman Anthony Florentino. Hitchcock then fired the puck over diving defender Tobie Bisson and over the shoulder of Cyclones netminder Jonas Johansson at 15:39 to make it 3-1.
Some nice passing got the Railers within a goal at 7:15 of the third period. Hitchcock led the rush into the Cincinnati zone on the left wing side. He left a drop pass for Ryan MacKinnon near the blueline, and MacKinnon returned the puck to Hitchcock as he continued toward the net. Hitchcock’s pass into the slot to Tyler Barnes was sharp, and all Barnes had to do was deflected it past Johansson.
The goal marked seven games in a row with a goal for Barnes, which is not only a franchise record but according to longtime hockey writer Bill Ballou is also the city’s pro hockey record.
The goal that got the Railers to even came at 15:46, and at least as of posting time it says it was scored by Nick Sorkin. But no matter who it was they somehow got the puck just over the goal line and the crowd of 4,602 on their feet and screaming. The play started with Mike Cornell feeding Tyler Mueller, and then Mueller firing it on net. From there it gets a little iffy. Referee Chris Pontes, who declares who scores the goals, says it hit Sorkin and went in. From this writer’s perch it looked to be Josh Holmstrom. Either way, it was in and a tie game.
But that goal wasn’t the end of regulation, and when referee Pontes called MacKinnon for interference despite obviously not seeing the play fans started to feel like the game may have been taken away from the Railers. Worcester’s penalty killers had a great game, and that final kill that went from five on four to four on three when the overtime period started was no exception as they made another successful kill.
Worcester had two great chances in overtime at even strength to win it, but both bids went just wide. The top ranked Cyclones offense was then able to use all that extra space playing three on three and a wide open Brady Vail rifled one past Buitenhuis at 2:39 of the extra session for the 4-3 Cincinnati win.
Scratches for the Railers were Malcolm Gould, Woody Hudson, Tommy Kelley, Kyle McKenzie (14-day IR/upper/out for season), Tommy Panico, and Matt Schmalz (14-day IR/upper). Mitch Gillam was the back-up netminder. Connor Doherty took a puck up high in the face area early on in the second period after being down for a couple minutes got up and skated off holding a towel to his face. He did not return to the game, although it appears the injury is not as bad as it could have been as he was seen afterwards holding an icepack under one of his eyes.
With this being the first and only time Worcester and Cincinnati meet this regular season we’ll take a look at the handful of connections between the Cyclones and Massachusetts. Anthony Florentino was born in Boston and attended Providence College in 2013-14 when Railers Head Coach Jamie Russell was an assistant there, and for Worcester Barry Almeida and Tommy Kelley both played for Cincinnati at points in their pro careers.
Two players on the Cyclones roster played games against Worcester’s AHL teams. Justin Vaive had three assist in five games for Hartford against the WorSharks in the 2013-14 and 14-15 AHL seasons, and played for the Railers AHL affiliate Bridgeport Sound Tigers in 2015-16. Ben Johnson played two games for the Albany Devils against the WorSharks in 2014-15 and did not register a point in the home and home series.
On this day, February 11th, in Worcester hockey history…in 2000 Ladislav Nagy scored a pair of goals and had an assist and Cody Rudkowsky turned aside 41 shots as the Worcester IceCats edged the Providence Bruins, 4-3. Reed Low added a goal and an assist for the IceCats…in 2004 Johnny Pohl and Tom Koivisto each had a goal and an assist in the IceCats 4-4 tie with Manchester. Mike Glumac had the game tying goal in the third period while Jame Pollock and Peter Sejna each added two assists in the game…in 2005 the IceCats got third period goals by Jon DiSalvatore, Brendan Brooks, and Jay McClement to defeat the Springfield Falcons 4-1. D.J. King opened the scoring with a first period goal
Continuing with February 11th in Worcester hockey history…in 2011 the WorSharks blanked the Falcons 5-0 behind a 25 save performance by PTO netminder Daren Machesney. Andrew Desjardins had two goals and an assist in the game, while Dan DaSilva added a goal and two assists…in 2012 Tim Kennedy scored a late third period goal for the WorSharks against Hershey to tie the game, and then Brodie Reid would score in the seventh round of the shootout to give Worcester the 3-2 win. Jack Combs had a goal and an assist in the contest.
The three stars of the game were
1. CIN – 27 Brady Vail
2. WOR – 27 Ryan Hitchcock
3. WOR – 12 Josh Holmstrom
The 210Sports Player of the Game is Tyler Barnes.
Even Strength Lines
Almeida / Hitchcock / Barnes
Sorkin / Holmstrom / Gaudreau
Kosorenkov / Willick / Brauer
Mueller / Cornell
Doherty / Quenneville
Vanier / MacKinnon
Cincinnati 2 1 0 1 – 4
Worcester 0 1 2 0 – 3
1st Period-1, Cincinnati, Glotov 9 (Vail, Johansson), 1:54. 2, Cincinnati, Powell 19 (Wideman, Schultz), 5:27. Penalties-Quenneville Wor (hooking), 6:37; Holmstrom Wor (slashing), 11:41; Atwal Cin (interference), 18:54.
2nd Period-3, Cincinnati, Jones 3 (Aquin), 6:50. 4, Worcester, Hitchcock 8 (Brauer), 15:39. Penalties-Dorowicz Cin (holding), 0:04; Quenneville Wor (cross-checking), 12:13; Powell Cin (slashing), 16:43; Jones Cin (unsportsmanlike conduct), 20:00; Turcotte Wor (unsportsmanlike conduct), 20:00.
3rd Period-5, Worcester, Barnes 20 (Hitchcock, MacKinnon), 7:17. 6, Worcester, Sorkin 11 (Mueller, Cornell), 15:46. Penalties-Stephens Cin (high-sticking), 10:51; MacKinnon Wor (interference), 19:26.
OT Period-7, Cincinnati, Vail 17 (Atwal), 2:39. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Cincinnati 5-15-11-3-34. Worcester 7-9-8-0-24.
Power Play Opportunities-Cincinnati 0 / 4; Worcester 0 / 4.
Goalies-Cincinnati, Johansson 16-5-1-2 (24 shots-21 saves). Worcester, Buitenhuis 7-8-3-1 (34 shots-30 saves).
Referees-Chris Pontes (12).
Linesmen-Sam Schildkraut (86), Shane Kanaly (39).