The Worcester Railers headed to Glens Falls, New York Wednesday for the first of two in a row against the Adirondack Thunder at the Cool Insuring Arena with the Railers knowing they needed two points in their midweek contest to keep themselves in the chase for the fourth and final playoff spot in the ECHL’s North Division.
The early part of the opening period was played largely in the Worcester end, but goaltender Mitch Gillam kept the Thunder at bay until the Railers were able to get things going in the offensive end. It was a rush by Worcester’s top line that would give the Railers the lead when Ryan Hitchcock threw a nice diagonal pass over to Barry Almeida deep in the Adirondack zone. From a tough angle Almeida fired a hard shot that beat Thunder netminder Logan Thompson high to make it 1-0 Worcester. Tyler Barnes had the secondary assist on the play.
In the second period Almeida would grab his second of the game on a nice individual play where he stole the puck from Adirondack defenseman Jake Linhart and headed to the front of the net from the right side behind the goal line. When Almeida tried to jam the puck home Thompson made the save, but the rebound went right back to Almeida. He gathered the puck and swung it around the downed Thompson, flipping a backhander into the yawning net at 8:57 for the unassisted goal.
Hitchcock would give the Railers a 3-0 lead at 15:01 with an unassisted goal of his own when he stole the puck right off the stick of Thunder defenseman Colby Sissons at the center red line and then skated in down the right wing side. When Hitchcock got to the bottom of the right wing circle he fired a backhander on goal that fooled Thompson and beat him short side.
With Worcester play by play man Eric Lindquist calling for the Railers to score a third goal in the period Tommy Kelley did just that when he banged home a rebound of Matty Gaudreau’s shot at 16:56 to give Worcester a 4-0 lead. Ryan MacKinnon had the second helper on the goal.
All that was left was to see if Gillam could get his first shutout of the season, and it looked for a brief second like he was going to lose that chance when Peter MacArthur rifled one that hit off the crossbar behind Gillam and dropped toward the goal line. For some reason the puck didn’t bounce and just laid right on the ice for Gillam to fall back on.
With time running out Nick Sorkin made it 5-0 with a nice goal assisted Josh Holmstrom and Ivan Chukarov at 19:20, It was Chukarov’s first pro point.
When the horn sounded to end the game it was Gillam’s sixth shutout for the Railers, tying him for second all-time in Worcester pro hockey history with Reinhard Divis, Dwayne Roloson, and Alex Stalock.
The Railers will be staying in Glens Falls until Friday’s game, and then they return to the DCU Saturday night with a contest against the Norfolk Admirals with a 7pm puck drop. They’ll be wearing a Nickelodeon specialty “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” jersey that will be auctioned off during the game.
Scratches for the Railers were Kyle McKenzie (Out for season/shoulder), Tyler Mueller, Ross Olsson, Tommy Panico (Out for season/hand), Matt Schmalz (14-day IR/upper), Alex Vainer (14-day IR/upper), and newcomer Blake Wojtala. Evan Buitenhuis was the back-up goaltender. Defenseman Connor Doherty returned to action for the first time since taking a puck to the face on February 10th against Cincinnati, missing eight games. Doherty played wearing a full face cage, and will likely need to wear it for the next few weeks until his injuries fully heal.
Prior to Wednesday’s game the Railers announced that Ivan Kosorenkov was recalled by the San Jose Barracuda (AHL) and his ECHL player rights were traded to the Orlando Solar Bears. Word behind the scenes was Kosorenkov was in the dog house after his turnover last Wednesday that led to Sam Kurker’s goal. Kosorenkov has lots of skills on offense, but passing doesn’t really seem to be one of his strong suits. Many times he turned the puck over trying to stick handle through defenses when there was a wide open pass available. Kosorenkov also didn’t play much defense, which coupled with his turnovers made him a liability on the ice. One could guess this closes the book on the “future considerations” Worcester owed Orlando in the Matt Schmalz trade, but as of right now there’s been no official word.
The injury call-up train has gone into motion once again as New York Islander netminder Robin Lehner was run over Tuesday night by Brady Tkachuk of the Ottawa Senators. Lehner went to the dressing room after the collision and there’s been no official word on his injury or condition. The Islanders have since recalled goalie Christopher Gibson to take Lehner’s place, and while Bridgeport hasn’t recalled either of the Worcester netminders as of the end of Wednesday night’s game General Manager Jamie Russell wasted no time in signing Salve Regina University alum Blake Wojtala. The Trenton, Michigan native went 63-29-8 for the Seahawks, with a career 2.32 goals against average and a .927 save percentage.
With it being the first game of the new week we’ll once again take a look at the voting in the Railers Fans Facebook group for last week’s “Railers Player of the Week”, and in the closest balloting so far this season last week’s winner is Matty Gaudreau. It’s the first time this season the winner got less than half the votes cast. David Quenneville and Ryan Hitchcock were the other two nominees.
On this day, March 7th, in Worcester hockey history…in 2003 Justin Papineau scored in regulation and Christian Backman got the game winning goal on the power play in overtime in the IceCats 2-1 win in Philadelphia over the Phantoms. Reinhard Divis, seeing his first action of the season after missing five months with an abdominal/groin injury, made 28 saves for the win…in 2008 Graham Mink had two goals and an assist while Derek Joslin had a goal and two assists as the WorSharks defeated the Albany River Rats 5-3. T.J. Fox and Dennis Packard had the other goals for Worcester while Thomas Greiss made 19 saves for the win. Greiss was also called for a rare hooking penalty in the third period…in 2009 Frazer McLaren had two goals to life the WorSharks to a 4-1 win over Albany. Dan DaSilva had a goal and an assist in the contest, and Matt Fornataro added his third goal in two games. Trent Campbell had two assists and Taylor Dakers had 31 saves in the win…in 2014 the WorSharks got goals by Freddie Hamilton, Yanni Gourde, Marek Viedensky, and Daniil Tarasov to defeat Providence in a shootout. Hamilton and Dan DaSilva scored in the shootout, while Troy Grosenick saved all four P-Bruins attempts.
The three stars of the game were
1. WOR – 35 Mitch Gillam
2. WOR – 19 Barry Almeida
3. WOR – 27 Ryan Hitchcock
The 210Sports Player of the Game is Tommy Kelley.
Even Strength Lines
Almeida / Hitchcock / Barnes
Sorkin / Holmstrom / Gaudreau
Kelly / Willick / Brauer
Doherty / Cornell
Chukarov / Quenneville
Powers / MacKinnon
Worcester 1 3 1 – 5
Adirondack 0 0 0 – 0
1st Period-1, Worcester, Almeida 17 (Hitchcock, Barnes), 14:41. Penalties-No Penalties
2nd Period-2, Worcester, Almeida 18 8:57. 3, Worcester, Hitchcock 12 15:01. 4, Worcester, Kelley 3 (Gaudreau, MacKinnon), 16:56. Penalties-Turcotte Wor (roughing), 18:20.
3rd Period-5, Worcester, Sorkin 13 (Holmstrom, Chukarov), 19:20. Penalties-Turcotte Wor (fighting – major), 2:08; Carrier Adk (fighting – major), 2:08; Petti Adk (tripping), 9:12.
Shots on Goal-Worcester 8-14-7-29. Adirondack 12-17-9-38.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 0 / 1; Adirondack 0 / 1.
Goalies-Worcester, Gillam 17-13-1-3 (38 shots-38 saves). Adirondack, Thompson 1-2-0-0 (29 shots-24 saves).
Referees-Matt Menniti (10).
Linesmen-Matt Brady (42), Adam Wood (36).