The Worcester Railers took on the Adirondack Thunder in Glens Falls for the second time in a week Friday night, only this time played 60 minutes of solid hockey and behind a 25 save performance from goaltender Linus Soderstrom in his North American debut defeated the Thunder 4-1 for Worcester’s first road win on the season.
The Railers knew they needed to get out of the gate quickly to help put last Saturday’s collapse behind them, and it would be harder to get on the board faster as Kyle Thomas gave Worcester a 1-0 lead just 20 seconds into the contest when he put home a loose puck in front of former Worcester netminder Eamon McAdam.
After a nice zone entry, Tanner Pond threw a cross ice pass to Ryan Hitchcock on the right circle. His shot was saved by McAdam, but the netminder thought he had the puck under control when in reality it was loose under him. Thomas banged the loose puck in for the quickest goal to start a game in Railers franchise history.
At 8:16 of the opening period a hard check by Ross Olsson sparked a line brawl, which referee Alex Garon looked to see only a small portion of the affair as just one pair of fighting majors were assessed, to Connor Doherty and Gabriel Verpaelst, with Olsson drawing a triple minor and the Thunder’s Jame Henry getting a double minor. Something in the battle incensed Thomas, who was originally assessed a ten-minute misconduct but was then ejected for slamming his stick on the penalty box glass.
Despite losing a potent offensive weapon the Railers hardly missed a beat and took a 2-0 lead at 17:09 when Matt Schmalz tipped in JD Dudek’s blast for a power play marker. Barry Almeida fed Dudek to the high slot, where he fired the puck just as Schmalz slid into position in front of McAdam.
Charlie Curti cut the Worcester lead in half at 4:45 of the second period on the only mistake Soderstrom made on the night, one that can be easily chalked up to him not playing in a game since appearing in the second half of Bridgeport’s exhibition game against Hartford on September 27th.
It was on a two on one break, and as the Railers raced to catch up to the play Nikita Popugaev threw a pass to the left to Charlie Curti. Soderstrom slid over to face the shooter but missed his angle going a bit too far, and Curti made him pay with a low shot to the far side that went just inside the post.
Nic Pierog gave Worcester its two goal lead back with a five on three power play goal at 7:33. Hitchcock started the play from the left wing circle after taking a pass from the point. He threw a nice centering feed to Cody Payne, but the rookie forward misfired on his bid on net. The puck went right to the tape of Pierog’s stick, and he had just about all 24-square feet to shoot at.
In the third period Pierog was stopped on a penalty shot bid by McAdam at 7:14, but then Pierog would earn a goal without putting the puck in the net as Conor Riley threw his stick at Pierog’s empty net bid. Referee Garon was signaling goal to make it the 4-1 final even before Almeida could bang the puck home.
Worcester’s road trip continues with games Saturday night and Sunday afternoon in Brampton against the Beast.
Scratches for the Railers were Bo Brauer (Day to day), Drew Callin, Justin Murray, Chris Rygus, and Henrik Samuelsson (Day to day). Evan Buitenhuis was the back-up goaltender. After missing the first three games due to injury defenseman Anthony Florentino made his debut with the team. Florentino previously played for Railers head coach Jamie Russell at Providence College when Russell was as assistant head coach there.
Tanner Pond (2g,2a) has scored a point in all four games so far this season. Cody Payne (2g,a) has a three game point streak. Kyle Thomas and Ryan Hitchcock are the only Railers “even” or better in all four games this season, with Thomas leading the team and tied for the ECHL lead at +6.
It took until Friday afternoon, but Barry Almeida finally lost the assist he was given on Kyle Thomas’ goal last Friday against Maine, with JD Dudek being correctly credited with the point. Almeida was also erroneously given a helper on Nic Pierog’s second period power play goal. Presuming all the number have caught up with each other Almeida is now once again at 70 career Railers assists, tying him for 18th in Worcester pro hockey history with Darren Rumble. His 115 career points is also ranked 18th in the city’s hockey history.
There is some dispute on the actual height of netminder Linus Soderstrom. The NHL lists him at 6’5″, as do the Railers. But most other sources list his height at 6’4″. If he’s really 6’5″, he’s tied with WorSharks PTO’er Gerald Coleman for the tallest netminder in Worcester hockey history and would be the tallest to win a game. If he’s actually 6’4″, he’d tie with IceCats PTO’er Scott Roche, and AHL Hall of Famer Frederic Cassivi for second tallest goalie in city hockey.
The three stars of the game were
1. WOR – 31 Linus Soderstrom
2. WOR – 19 Barry Almeida
3. ADK – 3 Charlie Curti
The 210Sports Player of the Game is Nic Pierog.
Even Strength Lines
Almeida / Pierog / Dudek
Hitchcock / Pond / Thomas
Samuels-Thomas / Payne / Schmalz
Doherty / Cornell
McKenzie / Chukarov
Bolton / Florentino
Worcester 2 1 1 – 4
Adirondack 0 1 0 – 1
1st Period-1, Worcester, Thomas 3 (Hitchcock, Pond), 0:20. 2, Worcester, Schmalz 1 (Dudek, Almeida), 17:09 (PP). Penalties-Pond Wor (fighting – major), 7:59; Sdao Adk (fighting – major), 7:59; Doherty Wor (fighting – major), 8:16; Olsson Wor (roughing, double – roughing), 8:16; Thomas Wor (misconduct, game misconduct – abuse of officials), 8:16; Henry Adk (double – roughing), 8:16; Verpaelst Adk (fighting – major), 8:16; Sdao Adk (interference), 16:19; Sdao Adk (roughing), 17:09.
2nd Period-3, Adirondack, Curti 3 (Popugaev, Verbeek), 4:45. 4, Worcester, Pierog 1 (Payne, Hitchcock), 7:33 (PP). Penalties-Olsson Wor (elbowing), 2:25; Parran Adk (tripping), 6:01; Pierro-Zabotel Adk (elbowing), 6:30; Florentino Wor (holding), 9:37.
3rd Period-5, Worcester, Pierog 2 19:57 (EN). Penalties-Bolton Wor (hooking), 7:55; Payne Adk (boarding), 11:19.
Shots on Goal-Worcester 16-8-6-30. Adirondack 9-11-6-26.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 2 / 5; Adirondack 0 / 4.
Goalies-Worcester, Soderstrom 1-0-0-0 (26 shots-25 saves). Adirondack, McAdam 2-1-0-1 (29 shots-26 saves).
Referees-Alex Garon (9).
Linesmen-Guillaume Brunelle (81), Chris Provost (50).