The Worcester Railers made several mental errors in their Friday night contest against Maine at the DCU Center, and the Mariners made them pay for those mistakes by handing the Railers a 4-2 loss. The defeat drops Worcester’s record to 6-15-1 for the season and they are a woeful 3-8-0 on home ice.
The only Maine goal that wasn’t a direct result of a Worcester brain cramp was Greg Chase’s power play goal at 15:26 of the third that made the score 4-2. His laser over the right shoulder of Railers netminder Evan Buitenhuis was an NHL-quality shot. What wasn’t NHL-quality was the slashing call to Nic Pierog that precipitated the goal as referee Matt Menniti may have been the only person in the building who saw the infraction.
To say referee Menniti had a terrible game would be a massive understatement, but despite the complaints of the Worcester faithful Menniti’s failures paled in comparison to the Railers’.
Maine got on the board when Worcester forwards didn’t pick up Michael McNicholas skating through the zone. McNicholas played give and go with Chase, and with two Worcester forwards waving their sticks in McNicholas’s direction as opposed to making any physical play against the attacker McNicholas then beat Buitenhuis at 10:48 of the first.
As public address announcer Adam Webster’s dulcet tones filled the DCU Center announcing that goal Kyle Thomas knotted the score with a beaming 40-foot wrist shot. Mariners goaltender Connor LaCouvee attempted to fire the puck out of the zone along the glass, but it hit teammate Alex Kile and bounced into the right wing circle. Yanick Turcotte pushed the puck to JD Dudek, who continued it to Thomas for the shot and goal at 11:01.
Kile would make up for the miscue at 13:19 when he was all alone at the far post and banged one home into a yawning net. Jake Elmer got the only helper on the goal when he wheeled the net and tried to jam one home on the left side. It seemed like the entire Railers team was heading to that spot and no one picked up Kile on the right side, and the puck rolled right through the crease to Kile standing all alone.
The only goal of the second period came after two incredibly poor plays from Worcester resulted in consecutive shorthanded breakaway bids by the Mariners. Buitenhuis made the save on the bid by Ty Ronning but on the second one referee Menniti, who was almost as far away from the play as this writer was, ruled that Ryan MacKinnon fouled McNicholas on his breakaway and awarded him a penalty shot. McNicholas then beat Buitenhuis glove side at 11:58.
Referee Menniti had to go to the video on Barry Almeida’s tally at 7:43 of the third when there was a wild goalmouth scramble in front of LaCouvee that included Dudek ending up in the net. The puck eventually rolled wide of the cage where Almeida banked it into the goal off of Maine defender Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin. The red light didn’t go on but the puck was clearly in the net, and there was no signal by referee Menniti. Almeida went berserk, demanding the referee review the goal, which Menniti wasn’t going to…
…until the play was shown on the Daktronics board above the ice and the Railers and fans went nuts. Suddenly Menniti decided to review the play, eventually signaling it was a good goal.
The two squads meet again in Worcester on Saturday night.
Scratches for the Railers were Ivan Chukarov, Anthony Florentino, Ross Olsson, Cody Payne, and Tanner Pond (14-day IR/upper). Both Barry Almeida and Shane Walsh returned to the line-up after being on injured reserve. Walsh missed eight game with his “upper body injury” while Almeida was out seven games after being hit in the knee by Adirondack’s Kelly Summers on November 24th. Ian Milsoz was the back-up goaltender. Earlier in the week Worcester sent Matt Schmalz to the Indy Fuel to complete the Dante Salituro trade.
Longtime Worcester hockey broadcaster Eric Lindquist can add another line to his resume after Friday night’s contest where he was behind the bench with head coach Dave Cunniff. Lindquist, who started the season as Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the team and was named Director of Hockey Operations after the departure of Jamie Russell, took the assistant coach’s spot for the game once Almeida returned to the line-up. It’s likely a “one and done” deal for Lindquist as Railers President Mike Myers is rumored to be taking on the role of assistant coach for the rest of the weekend while the search for a full time assistant for Cunniff continues.
The Worcester Railers Booster Club held its annual Holiday Party last Wednesday night, which doubles as a toy drive to benefit the Friendly House in Worcester. This year the value of toys donated was $1,669, and as the club usually does that total will be rounded up to $2000 in the form of gift cards. The Booster Club is also holding its annual Christmas ornament raffle this weekend. Proceeds from the event will benefit The Worcester Junior Railers Mike Ellsessar Scholarship Fund. Each ornament has been hand designed by a Booster Club member, and then signed by a Railers player. Raffle tickets can be purchased at the Booster Club table behind on the DCU Center concourse behind section 109.
The three stars of the game were
1. MNE – 16 Michael McNicholas
2. MNE – 40 Connor LaCouvee
3. WOR – 19 Barry Almeida
The 210Sports Player of the Game was Kyle Thomas.
Even Strength Lines
Samuels-Thomas / Pierog / Salituro
Almeida / Dudek / Thomas
Brauer / Callin / Walsh
Doherty / Quenneville
Murray / MacKinnon
Stander / Mackenzie
Maine 2 1 1 – 4
Worcester 1 0 1 – 2
1st Period-1, Maine, McNicholas 3 (Chase, Hart), 10:48. 2, Worcester, Thomas 6 (Dudek, Turcotte), 11:01. 3, Maine, Kile 5 (Elmer), 13:19. Penalties-Samuels-Thomas Wor (tripping), 0:45; Quenneville Wor (tripping), 18:13; Crawley Mne (kneeing), 19:11.
2nd Period-4, Maine, McNicholas 4 11:58 (SH PS). Penalties-Elmer Mne (tripping), 3:32; Kile Mne (misconduct), 3:32; Adams-Moisan Mne (elbowing), 10:39; Walsh Wor (hooking), 17:16.
3rd Period-5, Worcester, Almeida 5 7:43. 6, Maine, Chase 4 (Crawley, Elmer), 15:26 (PP). Penalties-Pierog Wor (slashing), 14:33.
Shots on Goal-Maine 12-7-7-26. Worcester 8-10-12-30.
Power Play Opportunities-Maine 1 / 4; Worcester 0 / 3.
Goalies-Maine, LaCouvee 6-5-0-1 (30 shots-28 saves). Worcester, Buitenhuis 3-8-0-0 (26 shots-22 saves).
Referees-Matt Menniti (10).
Linesmen-Chris Provost (50), Shane Kanaly (74).