The Worcester Railers were looking to get back on track in their Sunday afternoon contest against the Reading Royals at the DCU Center after Saturday night’s debacle playing Newfoundland, and while the Railers were far from perfect they played well enough to come away 5-3 winners.
It was Worcester who got on the board first just 1:39 into the contest when Ben Thomson fired a blast from the top of the right wing circle. Reading netminder Felix Sandstrom made the stop but Arnaud Durandeau was there at the bottom of the circle to fire it home short side for the 1-0 lead. Currently, Ivan Chukarov is listed as the secondary assist, but it appeared Nic Pierog may have gotten a piece of Thomson’s shot while screening Sandstrom.
Former Railers forward Frankie DiChiara got his Royals squad back to even with a power play goal at 4:37 when a deflected pass went right to the tape on his stick. He beat Worcester goaltender Ian Milosz high to the stick side to make it 1-1.
It was Pierog that made it a 2-1 Railers advantage when he stole the puck off of DiChiara’s stick and headed in on a shorthanded breakaway against Sandstrom. Pierog beat Sandstrom glove side at 17:38 for his fifth shorthanded goal of the season, tying the city’s all-time single season mark.
But once again Reading would make it a tie game when Garret Cockerill’s shot beat Milosz clean but rang hard off the far side post. Corey Mackin out-muscled the Worcester defense for the rebound and banged it home at 8:10 of the second frame.
For a third time the Railers would take the lead on about as perfect a pass and shot as you’ll see at any level of hockey. After a faceoff win to the left of Sandstrom Durandeau picked up a loose puck and got it to Pierog in the slot. Pierog continued it with a perfect pass to Thomson set up between the bottom of the circle and the goal line. His booming one-timer beat Sandstrom clean at 14:47 to make it 3-2.
It was a poor line change by Worcester that caused them to break the cardinal rule of never allowing a goal in the last minute of a period. With several Railers skating hard to get into the play Reading tied it at 19:10 when Luke Stork found DiChiara all alone in the slot. Milosz made a good bid on the shot but it still found the back of the net.
In the third it was another great play by Thomson that gave Worcester its fourth lead of the night. After taking a pass from Phil Johansson forward turned defenseman Bo Brauer intentionally fired a hard shot wide of the Royals net. Thomson was there to get a stick on it and deflect it past Sandstrom to make it 4-3 at 10:59 of the third.
This time Reading couldn’t answer as Milosz and the Railers clogged the middle forcing long range or bad angle attempts. With Sandstrom pulled for an extra attacker Pierog emerged from a crowd of players to fire the puck 150-feet into the open net to make it the 5-3 final. Kyle Thomas was credited with an assist on the play.
After an off day on Monday the Railers return to action with a game in Portland against the Maine Mariners. Puck drop is 7pm.
Scratches for the Railers were Connor Doherty, JD Dudek (14-day IR/upper), Cody Payne, Tanner Pond (14-day IR/upper), Kyle McKenzie (lower), and Jordan Samuels-Thomas (lower). Evan Buitenhuis was the back-up goaltender.
With Connor Doherty being a healthy scratch Sunday that means Worcester will not have an ironman again this season. In their short franchise history, only Barry Almeida has played in all 72 regular season games, doing it last season. Kyle McKenzie was the closest in their inaugural 2017-18 campaign, playing in 71 of 72 games. With Doherty out Ryan MacKinnon wore the alternate captain’s “A” and Bo Brauer played defense.
This was a game on the schedule that had a checkmark in the Reading column with Worcester playing last night and the Royals having the day to travel. In fact, Reading was in town so early that broadcaster David Fine did Saturday’s game with Newfoundland radio man Chris Ballard and former Railers player Frankie DiChiara was on the concourse meeting with fans and catching up with old friends. But by the end of Sunday’s game it was the Royals that had the tired legs as they were down to 14 skaters due to injury. They were so out of gas that Reading head coach Kirk MacDonald didn’t bother pulling his goaltender a second time after Pierog’s empty net goal made it 5-3.
The three stars of the game were
1. WOR – 18 Ben Thomson
2. WOR – 61 Nic Pierog
3. REA – 21 Frank DiChiara
The 210Sports Player of the Game was Arnaud Durandeau.
Even Strength Lines
Almeida / Callin / Walsh
Thomson / Pierog / Durandeau
Olsson / Salituro / Thomas
Murray / MacKinnon
Stander / Chukarov
Johansson / Brauer
Reading 1 2 0 – 3
Worcester 2 1 2 – 5
1st Period-1, Worcester, Durandeau 2 (Thomson, Chukarov), 1:39. 2, Reading, DiChiara 11 (Mackin, Ebbing), 4:37 (PP). 3, Worcester, Pierog 16 17:38 (SH). Penalties-served by Callin Wor (bench – too many men), 3:16; Michel Rea (interference), 12:44; Johansson Wor (slashing), 17:28.
2nd Period-4, Reading, Mackin 11 (Cockerill, Hamilton), 8:10. 5, Worcester, Thomson 2 (Pierog, Durandeau), 14:47 (PP). 6, Reading, DiChiara 12 (Stork, Mitchell), 19:10. Penalties-Salituro Wor (tripping), 5:12; Low Rea (interference), 5:43; Beaudry Rea (slashing), 12:29; Olsson Wor (unsportsmanlike conduct), 12:29; Cockerill Rea (tripping), 14:41; Callin Wor (hooking), 19:40.
3rd Period-7, Worcester, Thomson 3 (Brauer, Johansson), 10:59. 8, Worcester, Pierog 17 (Thomas), 18:56 (EN). Penalties-MacKinnon Wor (bench – delay of game), 1:47; Chukarov Wor (holding), 13:28.
Shots on Goal-Reading 9-15-8-32. Worcester 12-9-16-37.
Power Play Opportunities-Reading 1 / 6; Worcester 1 / 3.
Goalies-Reading, Sandström 6-9-0-0 (36 shots-32 saves). Worcester, Milosz 3-2-0-0 (32 shots-29 saves).
Referees-Stan Szczurek (15).
Linesmen-Shane Kanaly (74), William Kingdon (58).