The Worcester Railers took on the Brampton Beast Saturday night at the CAA Centre in the first of a pair of games this weekend between the ECHL North Division rivals, and Worcester will be looking for a split of the mini-series on Sunday after dropping game one 5-2.
After an overnight bus ride from Glens Falls, New York to Brampton, Ontario and not having a morning skate it wasn’t a shock to see the Railers come out of the gate a little bit slowly Saturday night. What was a surprise was they never really got their legs under them. And for a team that’s going to rely on up-tempo hockey, that’s not a good thing.
Neither squad looked very good in the opening 20 minutes, but the Beast were able to capitalize on a five on three power play late in the frame when Christopher Clapperton scored on a quick one-timer from the right side at 17:13. Goaltender Evan Buitenhuis kept it that 1-0 score after twenty minutes by making a great save after a Connor Doherty turnover allowed Lindsay Sparks and Jackson Leef to break into the zone on a two on none rush.
It was still a one goal game for most of the second frame when Worcester finally tied it on a Jordan Samuels-Thomas power play score at 14:02. It was exactly how you’d draw it up, with Barry Almeida passing to JD Dudek in the high slot, and Dudek continuing the puck to Samuels-Thomas. The high shot went over Brampton netminder Joey Daccord and off the crossbar and in.
What you wouldn’t draw up is allowing a goal on the next shot, but the Railers did just that at 14:36 when Clapperton scored his second of the contest. Brenden Miller, who had earlier been in a fight with Justin Murray and had assisted on Clapperton’s second score, completed his Gordie Howe hat trick at 16:06 to make it 3-1 Beast.
Late in the frame the Railers scored another power play goal that once again looked like it was taken directly from a playbook, only this time it was Cody Payne lighting the lamp as Almeida and Samuels-Thomas passed the puck through the Brampton zone with relative ease to set up the tap in goal.
But that was all the offense Worcester could muster. Daniel Leavens made it 4-2 Beast with a power play goal at 12:33 of the third, and David Pacan added a long empty net goal in the waning seconds for the 5-2 final.
The two squads meet again Sunday afternoon, with puck drop scheduled for 2pm ET.
Scratches for the Railers were Bo Brauer (day to day), Ivan Chukarov (“banged up”, according to the pregame show), Chris Rygus, Henrik Samuelsson (day to day), and Matt Schmalz. Linus Soderstrom was the back-up goaltender.
The ECHL plays an unbalanced schedule, so not playing a team the same number of times home and away like the AHL does is very common, but you’d be hard pressed to find a much larger difference in the split of games that the Railers and Beast do. The two teams will meet eight times in the regular season, but six of them will take place in Brampton. On top of that, the two teams only play once after Christmas when Brampton visits the DCU Center on February 28th.
Attendance was posted in the box score as 2,172, but to say the place looked completely empty on the video stream would not be a huge exaggeration. If told there were 1,200 fans in the building based on the video this writer would likely have bet the under. The listed capacity of the CAA Centre for hockey is 5,000.
For local connections between the Railers and Beast, Brampton forward Jackson Leef is a graduate of Westfield State University, while David Vallorani graduated from UMass-Lowell. Goaltender Joey Daccord, who is on an NHL contract with the Ottawa Senators after being taken in the 7th round (#199) in the 2015 entry draft, was born in North Andover. For the Railers, both netminder Evan Buitenhuis and defenseman Mike Cornell were born in Burlington, Ontario, about 25 miles north of Brampton. Forward Nic Pierog is also from the Burlington area, officially listing Halton as his birthplace. Matt Schmalz is from Dunnville, Ontario, about 50 miles north of Brampton, while defenseman Justin Murray is from London, Ontario, which is about 90 miles away from Brampton. Rounding out the players who were born in Ontario is Chris Rygus, whose birthplace of Mississauga is about 30 miles north of Brampton.
The three stars of the game were
1. BRM – 15 Christopher Clapperton
2. BRM – 20 Brenden Miller
3. WOR – 61 Nic Pierog
The 210Sports Player of the Game is Jordan Samuels-Thomas
Even Strength Lines
Almeida / Pierog / Dudek
Hitchcock / Pond / Thomas
Samuels-Thomas / Payne / Callin
Murray / Cornell
McKenzie / Doherty
Bolton / Florentino
Worcester 0 2 0 – 2
Brampton 1 2 2 – 5
1st Period-1, Brampton, Clapperton 2 (Melancon, Leavens), 17:13 (PP). Penalties-Dudek Wor (broken stick), 15:22; McKenzie Wor (holding), 16:40.
2nd Period-2, Worcester, Samuels-Thomas 2 (Dudek, Almeida), 14:02 (PP). 3, Brampton, Clapperton 3 (Melancon, Miller), 14:36. 4, Brampton, Miller 1 (Clapperton, Melancon), 16:05. 5, Worcester, Payne 2 (Samuels-Thomas, Almeida), 18:51 (PP). Penalties-Murray Wor (fighting – major), 6:33; Miller Brm (instigating, fighting – major), 6:33; Martenet Brm (roughing), 13:03; served by Mann Brm (bench – interference), 18:03.
3rd Period-6, Brampton, Leavens 1 (Clapperton, Todd), 12:33 (PP). 7, Brampton, Pacan 2 19:38 (EN). Penalties-served by Pierog Wor (bench – delay of game), 3:44; Todd Brm (hooking), 5:52; Mann Brm (tripping), 9:38; Payne Wor (holding), 10:53; Pierog Wor (tripping), 15:14; Cornell Wor (unsportsmanlike conduct, misconduct – unsportsmanlike conduct), 18:13; Clapperton Brm (slashing), 18:13.
Shots on Goal-Worcester 12-9-8-29. Brampton 9-9-6-24.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 2 / 5; Brampton 2 / 5.
Goalies-Worcester, Buitenhuis 0-2-0-0 (23 shots-19 saves). Brampton, Daccord 2-2-0-0 (29 shots-27 saves).
Referees-Anthony Tapper (28).
Linesmen-Konner Roskovich (68), Scott Lawson (73).