The Worcester Railers headed up to Portland, Maine Tuesday night to take on the Mariners at Cross Insurance Arena hoping to find a way to end their five game losing streak, and while it took overtime the Railers still ended up on the wrong side of a 5-4 final.
Things did not start off well for Worcester when Brandon Crawley fired a shot on the Railers net that Jakub Skarek made the save on, but Morgan Adams-Moisan was all alone at the top of the crease to bang home the rebound at 2:26 of the opening period.
The Railers tied that game at 5:38 on a rebound of their own. Matt Schmalz wheeled the net but his cross ice pass to Kyle Thomas didn’t connect. The puck instead went to Connor Doherty at the blue line, and the defenseman fired the puck on goal. Mariners netminder Tom McCollum made the stop but Thomas was right there to bang the puck home.
But that tie didn’t last long, as Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin converted on a two on one rush just 14 seconds later to put Maine back in the lead.
With time running down in the first period Schmalz and JD Dudek broke into the Mariners zone and got a little lucky when Schmalz threw a pass to Dedek that hit the stick of Maine defenseman Brandon Crawley and deflected into the net at 19:35. Thomas picked up his second point of the game with an assist on the play.
Worcester was looking to carry the momentum of that late goal into the second period but instead found themselves down again when Ryan Gropp beat Skarek top shelf just 49 seconds into the frame.
It stayed 3-2 Maine throughout the middle stanza until Drew Callin threw a pass to Cody Payne on the left side, and Payne banged the puck home at 18:19 to knot the score again. Schmalz picked up his third point of the night on the goal which, not counting the “bonus” goals that teams get for winning a shootout, was the 5,000th regular-season goal in Worcester pro hockey history.
Just when it looked like the teams would once again head to the dressing rooms tied Nic Pierog gave the Railers the 4-3 lead at 19:03. Pierog retrieved a loose puck in the Mariners zone, and with no better option fired it on the net. The shot somehow found its way through McCollum and into the net. It was the first time since November 8 at Adirondack Worcester was in the lead after 40 minutes.
In the third the Railers had a golden chance to take a two goal lead when Thomas was awarded a penalty shot when Worcester was shorthanded early in the frame, but he lost control of the puck before he could get a shot off. That would come back to haunt the squad as Gropp grabbed his second of the game at 13:59 to tie it 4-4.
The Railers had multiple chances to regain the lead, but each time failed to put the puck in the net. The game then went to overtime, where Worcester didn’t get a shot on goal while Alex Kile scored on Maine’s fourth bid of the extra session to give the Mariners a 5-4 win.
The team’s losing streak has now reached six games. They return to the DCU Center Wednesday night to face Newfoundland.
Scratches for the Railers were Barry Almeida (lower), Anthony Florentino (14 day IR/undisclosed), Kyle McKenzie (lower), Ross Olsson, Tanner Pond (14-day IR/upper), Jack Stander, and Shane Walsh (14 day IR/upper). Evan Buitenhuis was the back-up goaltender. Almeida was injured on a knee to knee by Kelly Summers hit Sunday. McKenzie was injured in Tuesday’s morning skate.
The injury for Almeida ends his iron-man streak at 86 games. The last time he wasn’t dressed for a Railers game was the final two games of the 2017-18 regular season when head coach Jamie Russell rested several of the team’s top players.
According to a tweet by “ECHL Week” Worcester claimed forward Zack Phillips off of waivers from the Toledo Walleye on Tuesday. Phillips is a former 1st round pick (2011/#28) of the Minnesota Wild, and he’s well over the threshold of games to be an ECHL veteran.
One of the problems with video review in the ECHL is there’s no explanation as to what they’re reviewing. That was the case when the radio broadcast came back from a media break. Referee Steven Rouillard was looking at the replay monitor at something that took place in the Worcester end and did so for a long time. He then returned to the ice and signaled “no goal”. Now granted this writer only had half an eye on the ECHL-TV video, but nothing looked even close to a goal.
The three stars of the game were
1. MNE – 23 Alex Kile
2. MNE – 29 Ryan Gropp
3. WOR – 17 Matt Schmalz
The 210Sports Player of the Game was Nic Pierog.
Even Strength Lines
Samuels-Thomas / Pierog / Salituro
Thomas / Dudek / Schmalz
Turcotte / Payne / Brauer
Chukarov / Cornell
Murray / MacKinnon
Doherty / Quenneville
Worcester 2 2 0 0 – 4
Maine 2 1 1 1 – 5
1st Period-1, Maine, Adams-Moisan 2 (Crawley, Kile), 2:26. 2, Worcester, Thomas 4 (Doherty, Schmalz), 5:38. 3, Maine, Crevier-Morin 1 (McNicholas, Chase), 5:52. 4, Worcester, Schmalz 4 (Dudek, Thomas), 19:35. Penalties-No Penalties
2nd Period-5, Maine, Gropp 1 (Hart, Furgele), 0:49. 6, Worcester, Payne 5 (Callin, Schmalz), 18:19. 7, Worcester, Pierog 3 19:03. Penalties-Schmalz Wor (interference on the goalkeeper), 3:21; Pierog Wor (slashing), 7:57; Kile Mne (slashing), 8:56; Adams-Moisan Mne (tripping), 10:15; MacKinnon Wor (high-sticking), 19:28.
3rd Period-8, Maine, Gropp 2 13:59. Penalties-Quenneville Wor (high-sticking), 2:05; Dudek Wor (roughing), 9:47; Chase Mne (cross-checking), 9:47; Chukarov Wor (cross-checking), 10:06; Gropp Mne (slashing), 10:22; Fox Mne (delay of game), 15:27; Thomas Wor (high-sticking), 18:19.
OT Period-9, Maine, Kile 3 (McNicholas), 3:53. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Worcester 16-8-10-0-34. Maine 17-4-10-4-35.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 0 / 4; Maine 0 / 6.
Goalies-Worcester, Skarek 2-3-1-0 (35 shots-30 saves). Maine, McCollum 5-3-0-0 (34 shots-30 saves).
Referees-Steven Rouillard (3).
Linesmen-AJ Potvin (78), Shane Kanaly (74).