The Worcester Railers and South Carolina Stingrays hooked up in a Sunday afternoon match-up with the Railers looking to extend their winning streak to six games and keep pace in the chase for the fourth and final playoff spot in the ECHL’s North Division.
Early on the story was Blake Wojtala, who made big save after big save to keep the Stingrays off the board. But a goaltender can only save so many great bids before a bad bounce or a defensive misplay results in the puck going into the net behind him.
That’s exactly what happened on the first goal by South Carolina when the Railers defense allowed Cameron Askew to get position in front of the net without Askew using much more than a nudge. Stingrays defenseman Ryker Killins, who had skated down the right wing side, fired the puck toward the front of the net where it banked off Askew’s leg and went past Wojtala at 9:22 of the first period. The scoring as of posting time still lists Killins as the goal scorer, but that will change.
From that point on Wojtala continued to make big saves but the Worcester attackers just couldn’t put the puck into the net. They had several great chances but every single time managed to miss wide open nets or somehow misfire the puck so the defense could block the shot. Those that did find their way toward the net were turned aside by South Carolina netminder Parker Milner.
The way things were going for the Railers getting one into the net looked like a nearly impossible task, but a turnover in the Worcester zone that resulted in a one-timer by Tad Kozun that beat Wojtala at 12:48 of the third for a 2-0 Stingrays lead was a hill too big for the Railers offense to climb.
Worcester next plays on Friday at Manchester. They return to the DCU Center ice Saturday against Maine, and on Sunday they’ll host the Monarchs.
Scratches for the Railers were Evan Buitenhuis (Day to day/lower), Kyle McKenzie (Out for season/shoulder), Tommy Panico (Out for season/hand), Matt Schmalz (14-day IR/upper), Alex Vainer (14-day IR/upper). Ryan Hubbard, who was signed Sunday morning, was the back-up goaltender. While not getting into specifics the Railers called Buitenhuis day-to-day, and mentioned he was walking around the building on Sunday. In other injury updates, there’s no timetable on when Vanier will return. Schmalz is almost ready to come back, just waiting on clearance from doctors.
There was no word from the ECHL about a suspension to Norfolk defenseman Daniel Maggio, and the Railers had no comments about either of the two incidents that Maggio could potentially be suspended for. But well before such things are normally announced a source told me that Maggio was going to be a scratch for Norfolk Sunday in Manchester. If I were a betting man, and I am, I’d wager we’ll be getting word of a suspension of Maggio early during the week.
On this day, March 11th, in Worcester hockey history…in 2005 the IceCats got two goals from Troy Riddle and a goal and three assist from Jon DiSalvatore in the 6-5 win in Albany. Jeff Hogan had a goal and an assist, while Mike Mattau and Matt Walker each chipped in two assists. D.J. king and Colin Hemmingway had the other goals for Worcester. Jason Bacashihua had the win in goal…in 2011 the WorSharks got a power play goal by Brandon Mashinter, a shorthanded goal by Tommy Wingels, and an empty-net goal by Dan DaSilva in their 3-1 win in Manchester. Carter Hutton had 34 saves in the win…in 2015 John McCarthy had two goals and an assist to lead Worcester to a 5-1 win over Bridgeport. Eriah Hayes, Daniil Tarasov, and Travis Oleksuk also scored for the WorSharks, and Troy Grosenick had 25 saves…in 2018 the Railers got game tying goals from both Jeff Kubiak and Matt Lane in their 3-2 shootout win over Adirondack. Frankie DiChiara and Mike Cornell both scored in the 12 round shootout, and Mitch Gillam made 28 saves during the game and went 11-12 in the shootout.
The three stars of the game were
1. SC – 35 Parker Milner
2. SC – 29 Tad Kozun
3. WOR – 31 Blake Wojtala
The 210Sports Player of the Game is Blake Wojtala.
Even Strength Lines
Almeida / Hitchcock / Barnes
Kelley / Holmstrom / Gaudreau
Turcotte / Willick / Olsson
Mueller / Doherty
Powers / Quenneville
Chukarov / Brauer
South Carolina 1 0 1 – 2
Worcester 0 0 0 – 0
1st Period-1, South Carolina, Killins 1 (Kozun, Askew), 9:22. Penalties-Gratton Sc (fighting – major), 1:39; Turcotte Wor (fighting – major), 1:39; Charbonneau Sc (hooking), 3:43; Mueller Wor (slashing), 14:02.
2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Kelley Wor (tripping), 6:43; Killins Sc (tripping), 8:56.
3rd Period-2, South Carolina, Kozun 14 (Askew, Johnson), 12:48. Penalties-Kozun Sc (tripping), 6:54; Harrison Sc (boarding), 14:29.
Shots on Goal-South Carolina 12-6-7-25. Worcester 10-11-12-33.
Power Play Opportunities-South Carolina 0 / 2; Worcester 0 / 4.
Goalies-South Carolina, Milner 13-15-2-0 (33 shots-33 saves). Worcester, Wojtala 1-1-0-0 (25 shots-23 saves).
Referees-Steven Rouillard (3).
Linesmen-Sam Schildkraut (86), Brent Colby (38).