The Worcester Railers were a tired team after a long overnight bus ride home from Reading, but they had enough energy for two solid periods and then managed to hold on during a wild third stanza to end up with a 6-3 win over the Jacksonville Icemen at the DCU Center Sunday.
It started out like it might be one of those games, with the Railers coming out of the gates flying but not being able to get one past Icemen netminder Griffen Outhouse and then end up trailing after the period on a fluky goal. Jacksonville took the 1-0 lead at 7:43 when Pierre-Luc Mercier and Ivan Chukarov both hit a loose puck at the same time. The puck then flipped in the air and landed behind Worcester netminder Ian Milosz.
It was the first time all weekend Worcester trailed at any point, but it didn’t take long into the second period for the Railers to get back to even when Nic Pierog stole a puck while shorthanded and headed into the Icemen zone on a breakaway. His shot went high stick side 18 seconds into the frame. It was his fourth shorthanded goal on the season, tying the Railers single season and career marks held by Chris Langkow.
A nice play by Ben Thomson later in the stanza gave Worcester the lead. Thomson blocked a clearing attempt by Jacksonville at the right point and fired a hard shot on Outhouse. The netminder made the save, but the rebound popped into the air where Drew Callin swatted it home at 16:05. Shane Walsh then made it 3-1 at 17:09 when he banged home a loose puck while Ross Olsson was tangled up with Outhouse.
To say the Railers were out of gas in the third period might be the biggest understatement of the year. They surrendered a franchise record 22 shots in the frame but somehow managed to increase their lead despite almost all the action taking place in their end.
Chase Harrison cut Worcester’s lead to 3-2 after he wheeled the net and snuck on by Milosz at 7:32. Ross Olsson would follow with a pair of goals 17 seconds apart to give his team some breathing room. His first came at 12:40 on the power play when Outhouse made the save on Dante Salituro’s bid but couldn’t control the rebound. Olsson, who had been screening Outhouse, reached out with his stick to gather the loose puck and then pushed it into the yawning net.
After the ensuing face-off, Olsson broke into the Icemen zone and left a perfect drop pass for Walsh in the slot. Walsh’s shot sailed over the net and hit the glass, but the rebound went right to Olsson. His shot beat Outhouse inside the near post to make it 5-2. The two goals scored by Olsson were 17 seconds apart, a new franchise record for a single player.
Mercier then made it 5-3 when Hayden Shaw’s blast slipped through Milosz, where Mercier pounced on the loose puck and banged it home 13:20. From that point, it was like a shooting gallery, but Milosz didn’t let another puck past him.
Barry Almeida capped the scoring with a 190-foot empty net goal at 18:29 for the 6-3 final.
The Railers now finally get a few days off that don’t include travel. Their next game is Friday against Adirondack that begins a three in three at the DCU Center.
Scratches for the Railers were JD Dudek (14-day IR/upper), Tanner Pond (14-day IR/upper), Kyle McKenzie (upper), Jordan Samuels-Thomas (lower), and Yanick Turcotte (suspended indefinitely). Evan Buitenhuis was the back-up goaltender. After the Railers left Reading Saturday night Mike Cornell was recalled by Bridgeport, who were playing in Hershey. He played Sunday for the Sound Tigers but did not figure in the scoring. He ended that contest with a +1 rating and a shot on goal. With Cornell recalled Bo Brauer took his spot on defense.
While the team itself has remained fairly quiet about the Yanick Turcotte suspension Worcester fans have been very loud in voicing their displeasure. Many have taken to social media via tweets to the league or in the Railers Fans Facebook group to show support of Turcotte. Others decided to wear their protests, and Bryan Kurzman took a picture of Turcotte with some of those fans.
One longtime Worcester hockey fan, Donna Ahasey, was actually blocked by the ECHL on Twitter for sending the following messages:
How about instead of having it out for our organization and for Turcotte you first off do something about the joke of what you call “officiating”. Secondly, suspend players who deserve to be suspended (I can make a nice long list for you if you’d like). You think you’re making the game “safer” but you’re letting so many other players who genuinely have it out for others play? How is that fair? All of this because “Turcotte has a reputation”, it’s just an excuse. And finally make it fair and do this to all players and not just him because he has a “reputation”…. THIS IS A JOKE OF A SYSTEM YOU HAVE. He could poke someone and you’d give him a game suspension.
Now you could argue that some of that might be a tad over the top, but I’ll bet a lot of money those words are not even close to the worst thing the ECHL gets tweeted at on a daily basis. So why did they block her? Perhaps she hit too close to home.
And speaking of suspensions, former Railers forward Frankie DiChiara was suspended one game for his aggressor game misconduct Saturday against Worcester. He went after Connor Doherty, who couldn’t fight back because his hands were taped and would have resulted in a match penalty to Doherty if he hurt DiChiara in any manner with the taped hands. DiChiara will miss the Royals game on Tuesday against Maine.
The three stars of the game were
1. WOR – 9 Ross Olsson
2. WOR – 39 Ian Milosz
3. JAX – 21 Pierre-Luc Mercier
The 210Sports Player of the Game was Shane Walsh.
Even Strength Lines
Almeida / Pierog / Thomas
Thomson / Walsh / Salituro
Olsson / Callin / Payne
Stander / Doherty
Murray / MacKinnon
Chukarov / Brauer
Jacksonville 1 0 2 – 3
Worcester 0 3 3 – 6
1st Period-1, Jacksonville, Mercier 4 (Martin), 7:43. Penalties-Shaw Jax (tripping), 4:06; Doherty Wor (holding), 9:28; Mingo Jax (slashing), 10:24; Murray Wor (holding the stick), 12:56; Payne Wor (delay of game), 18:46.
2nd Period-2, Worcester, Pierog 14 0:18 (SH). 3, Worcester, Callin 7 (Thomson), 16:05. 4, Worcester, Walsh 11 (Chukarov, Salituro), 17:09. Penalties-Hamilton Jax (fighting – major), 10:04; Olsson Wor (fighting – major), 10:04.
3rd Period-5, Jacksonville, Harrison 1 7:32. 6, Worcester, Olsson 5 (Salituro, MacKinnon), 12:40 (PP). 7, Worcester, Olsson 6 (Walsh, Salituro), 12:57. 8, Jacksonville, Mercier 5 (Shaw), 13:20. 9, Worcester, Almeida 9 18:28 (EN). Penalties-Payne Wor (tripping), 2:02; Hamilton Jax (interference), 10:33.
Shots on Goal-Jacksonville 11-10-22-43. Worcester 7-13-7-27.
Power Play Opportunities-Jacksonville 0 / 4; Worcester 1 / 3.
Goalies-Jacksonville, Outhouse 1-3-2-0 (26 shots-21 saves). Worcester, Milosz 2-2-0-0 (43 shots-40 saves).
Referees-Matt Menniti (10).
Linesmen-Shane Kanaly (74), Stephen Drain (52).