The Worcester Railers took on the Newfoundland Growlers Friday evening at the DCU Center on “Hockey Fights Cancer Night”, and despite a two point effort from captain Barry Almeida the Railers were defeated by the defending Kelly Cup Champions 5-2.
One could say that the Railers missing veteran defenseman Mike Cornell and forward Nic Pierog played a big role in the loss, but the truth of the matter is the Growlers are a great ECHL hockey teams and right now the Railers just aren’t very good. The hometown team has been outscored 16-4 over their last nine periods.
Worcester got on the board first on a power play goal at 5:50 of the opening period when Jordan Samuels-Thomas threw a feed to the right wing halfboards to Matt Schmalz who was at the top of the crease. Schmalz then threw the puck across the slot to Almeida, who had been sneaking down toward the net from the left point all power play. The pass hit Kyle Thomas on the way through, but Almeida was still able to collect the puck and beat Newfoundland netminder Patrick Munson.
As of posting time the score sheet doesn’t give an assist to Thomas, and instead lists Samuels-Thomas’ original pass as the secondary helper.
Despite holding a 13-12 edge in shots over that opening 20 minutes and having the lead territoriality the period belonged to the Growlers, whose 12 first period shots were almost all great scoring bids. Rookie netminder Linus Soderstrom made a whole ton of big saves in the period to keep Worcester in the lead.
The second period was a different story, with Newfoundland still getting great bids and Soderstrom not being able to make the big save. Riley Woods tied the game at 1:33, and Matt Bradley gave Newfoundland the lead at 4:22. Scott Pooley then made it 3-1 at 6:57.
JD Dudek stopped the bleeding just seven seconds later when Samuels-Thomas won the ensuing face-off and managed to push the puck toward the Growlers zone. The puck eventually found its way to Almeida, who tried to center it to Samuels-Thomas but the pass hit Newfoundland defender and former Railer Tommy Panico. Dudek collected the loose puck and fired it through a screen of players for his second of the year at 7:04.
But that was as close as the Railers would get as Giorgio Estephan made it 4-2 at 14:33 on the power play.
In the third period there was a scary collision between Yanick Turcotte and Growlers defenseman Sergei Sapego when Turcotte went for a big open ice hit just to the right of Munson’s net. Turcotte missed as Sapego swerved toward his right, extending his left leg into Turcotte’s path. Turcotte jumped to avoid the leg but the two still hit each other, with Sapego crumbling to the ice holding his knee. Referee Kyle Lekun assessed Turcotte a major for kneeing and a game misconduct. Woods scored his second of the game on that major power play, at 9:23, for the eventual 5-2 final.
We will await word on Saturday about any potential discipline, but despite it looking accidental Turcotte does have a reputation around the league and was suspended twice for a total of seven games last season.
One player who will absolutely be getting Saturday night off is rookie Ross Olsson, who instigated a fight with Estephan with 56 seconds remaining in regulation. Like in the NHL and AHL, in the ECHL an instigator minor in the final five minutes of regulation or in overtime carries a mandatory one-game suspension.
Scratches for the Railers were Railers Ivan Chukarov (day to day/lower), Ryan Hitchcock (day to day/”banged up”), Chris Rygus, and Shane Walsh. Evan Buitenhuis was the backup goaltender. Worcester had a few transactions during the week, with Mike Cornell and Nic Pierog both being recalled to Bridgeport and forward Henrik Samuelsson being released. Fan favorite Yanick Turcotte was assigned to the Railers by the Sound Tigers, and forward Shane Walsh was signed to a contract late in the week.
Both Cornell and Pierog were in Bridgeport’s Friday night 5-1 loss to the Syracuse Crunch, with Cornell picking up a fighting major in a battle with Cory Conacher and Pierog grabbing the secondary assist on Bridgeport’s lone goal by Travis St. Denis.
Sometimes it takes something big going wrong to show how good someone is at their job. That was the case last night for longtime Railers and WorSharks DJ Ryan McConville. During his pregame set-up, which takes place about 45 minutes before the doors open, his laptop forced a Windows update on him. Now that would be bad enough, but the update was so large that watching the progress of it was akin to watching paint dry. McConville grabbed a secondary laptop he carries and began to set that up, but with the DCU sound system set for his usual laptop and not all the current music and sound used on the backup it wasn’t as easy as connecting and pushing play. McConville got it all up and running just as the DCU Center doors opened. By the start of the second period, about two and a half hours after the updates started, McConville was able to reconnect his primary laptop to the sound system. And odds are if it you didn’t read about it here or on Twitter you had no idea anything was wrong at all.
The three stars of the game were
1. NFL – 13 Riley Woods
2. NFL – 21 Joseph Duszak
3. NFL – 27 Matt Bradley
The 210Sports Player of the Game is Barry Almeida.
Even Strength Lines
Almeida / Samuels-Thomas / Dudek
Callin / Pond / Thomas
Olsson / Payne / Schmalz
Murray / Doherty
McKenzie / Florentino
Bolton / Brauer
Newfoundland 0 4 1 – 5
Worcester 1 1 0 – 2
1st Period-1, Worcester, Almeida 2 (Schmalz, Samuels-Thomas), 5:50 (PP). Penalties-Woods Nfl (high-sticking), 5:30; Luchuk Nfl (hooking), 19:17.
2nd Period-2, Newfoundland, Woods 5 (Luchuk, Duszak), 1:33. 3, Newfoundland, Bradley 3 (Duszak), 4:22. 4, Newfoundland, Pooley 6 (Bradley), 6:57. 5, Worcester, Dudek 2 (Almeida), 7:04. 6, Newfoundland, Estephan 5 (Ferguson, Power), 14:33 (PP). Penalties-Doherty Wor (cross-checking), 9:22; Bradley Nfl (high-sticking), 11:22; Dudek Wor (slashing), 13:41; Skirving Nfl (roughing), 17:11; Murray Wor (roughing), 17:11.
3rd Period-7, Newfoundland, Woods 6 (Luchuk, Pooley), 9:23 (PP). Penalties-Turcotte Wor (kneeing – major, game misconduct – kneeing), 4:47; Callin Wor (delay of game), 16:36; Estephan Nfl (fighting – major), 19:04; Olsson Wor (instigating, fighting – major, game misconduct – instigator in final 5 minutes or ot), 19:04; McKenzie Wor (slashing), 19:59.
Shots on Goal-Newfoundland 12-10-15-37. Worcester 13-7-11-31.
Power Play Opportunities-Newfoundland 2 / 6; Worcester 1 / 3.
Goalies-Newfoundland, Munson 2-1-0-0 (31 shots-29 saves). Worcester, Soderstrom 1-2-0-0 (37 shots-32 saves).
Referees-Kyle Lekun (32).
Linesmen-Nathan Frechette (49), Andrew Bell (73).