The Worcester Railers took on the Maine Mariners in the final game of 2019 at the DCU Center Saturday night, and the 6,419 in attendance watched a Worcester team that did just enough things right to keep the game close but didn’t do anywhere near enough to win as the Railers dropped a 2-0 contest.
It was a classic ECHL battle between one team skating with a short bench and another playing its third game in three nights. The teams were scoreless after twenty minutes thanks to Worcester netminder Evan Buitenhuis, who made five or six big saves in the frame. The Railers’ six first period shots did not test Mariners goaltender Connor LaCouvee, the only well rested Maine player, in the least.
The Railers’ best bid of the entire game came while shorthanded in the second period when Nic Pierog broke into the Maine zone down the right wing side. As Pierog’s shot knuckled in on LaCouvee the netminder lost control of the rebound, but Jordan Samuels-Thomas’ backhand return shot went high and wide of the open net.
The second period also looked like that it would end scoreless, but Terrence Wallin scored for Maine with 12.4 seconds left in the frame to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead. The play began with Ted Hart skating down the left side. Hart skated around Railers defender Jack Stander like a bull running past a bullfighter, and went in alone on Buitenhuis with Stander giving chase. The netminder made the save, but with Stander focused on the back of Hart’s jersey he didn’t see Wallin skating in right behind him, and Wallin flipped the puck into the yawning net for the score.
As they had for most of the contest, for the remainder of the game the Railers did their absolute best to make sure they took enough time shooting the puck so that a Maine player could get into the shooting lane. That was when they bothered to shoot the puck at all, and some of Worcester’s best scoring bids never resulted in an actual attempt on net.
Even with Buitenhuis pulled for an extra attacker during a Railers power play the lack of urgency from Worcester was apparent as they were credited with no shots on goal during that time. Alex Kile added an empty net goal with 16 seconds for the 2-0 final.
Scratches for the Railers were Tanner Pond (14-day IR/upper), Kyle McKenzie (unknown injury), and Yanick Turcotte (suspended, game two of three). Ian Milosz was the back-up goaltender. McKenzie was originally listed in the lineup but was scratched just moments before warm-ups started and Worcester went with 15 skaters. Bo Brauer took turns on defense in warm-ups but skated as a forward for most of the game.
After a conversation with Railers beat writer Bill Ballou, who covers his team in retirement better than most full-time writers cover theirs, it was decided that Dante Salituro is indeed the first Worcester player to score an extra attacker goal to tie the game and then score an overtime game winner. As has been mentioned, my note taking in those IceCats days wasn’t as comprehensive as it is now, so anything like that from 2000 and before is almost entirely on Ballou.
Ran into former AHL linesman Bob Paquette along the DCU Center concourse during the second intermission. Paquette, who retired from AHL officiating after the 2012-13 season, is Chief of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Division of Parks and Recreation, is a Michael Condon Memorial Award. The Michael Condon Memorial Award, instituted in 2002, honors an AHL on-ice official for his outstanding service to the American Hockey League. It is named for veteran AHL linesman Mike Condon, who passed away suddenly during the 2001-02 season. If it’s possible to be a fan-favorite linesman Paquette would certainly fit that bill. I joked that I almost didn’t recognize him without his 50/50 tickets in hand, which he promptly took out of his pocket and showed me. Paquette was known to check his tickets on-ice during the first stoppage of play after the winning number was announced. Like all those games, he did not win last night.
In perhaps the least shocking news you’ll read today, or read yesterday when I tweeted it, there is no video that shows Adirondack Thunder defenseman Gabriel Verpaelst leaving the bench to attack Railers forward Cody Payne. So supplementary discipline seems unlikely. It does seem odd to this writer that despite all the camera angles they show on the game stream from Cool Insuring Arena that not a single one caught Verpaelst leaving the bench, nor did it appear on the coach’s tape that usually covers the entire ice surface.
The three stars of the game were
1. MNE – 40 Connor LaCouvee
2. WOR – 34 Evan Buitenhuis
3. MNE – 92 Terrence Wallin
The 210Sports Player of the Game was Evan Buitenhuis.
Even Strength Lines
Almeida / Dudek / Walsh
Samuels-Thomas / Pierog / Salituro
Olsson / Payne / Callin
Stander / Doherty
Murray / MacKinnon
Chukarov alternated with Doherty and Stander
Maine 0 1 1 – 2
Worcester 0 0 0 – 0
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Stander Wor (hooking), 12:27.
2nd Period-1, Maine, Wallin 13 (Hart, Kile), 19:47. Penalties-Dudek Wor (tripping), 6:46; Adams-Moisan Mne (closing hand on puck), 11:28.
3rd Period-2, Maine, Kile 7 (Adams-Moisan, Crevier-Morin), 19:44 (EN). Penalties-Pierog Wor (tripping), 11:49; Adams-Moisan Mne (high-sticking), 17:19.
Shots on Goal-Maine 10-7-10-27. Worcester 6-9-6-21.
Power Play Opportunities-Maine 0 / 3; Worcester 0 / 2.
Goalies-Maine, LaCouvee 9-5-0-1 (21 shots-21 saves). Worcester, Buitenhuis 6-10-0-0 (26 shots-25 saves).
Referees-Casey Terreri (14).
Linesmen-Sam Schildkraut (46), Brent Colby (77).