The Worcester Railers were hoping to put last Sunday’s 6-0 loss to Adirondack behind them in their Friday night tilt against the Reading Royals at the DCU Center, and with the return of goaltender Jakob Skarek from Bridgeport were looking to start that upward climb back into the ECHL’s North Division playoff race.
Instead what they got was more of the same shaky netminding they’ve gotten all season as Skarek allowed four goals on 14 shots before being pulled early in the second frame in a 5-1 loss to the Royals.
Many times goals scored against aren’t entirely the fault of the netminder, and the Railers have certainly given up plenty of goals where it was the defense that failed. But Friday night Worcester found themselves down by four on several goals that were entirely stoppable bids.
Reading had the only goal of the first period at 7:05 when Rob Michel threw a pass from behind the goal line to Trevor Gooch at the bottom of the circle to the left of Skarek. The rookie netminder failed to hold the short side post, and Gooch was able to find the opening.
The Royals made it a two goal lead 19 seconds into the middle period when Matty Gaudreau scored from a tough angle. Once again it was Skarek failing to hold the near post which allowed a small opening high in the corner. Gaudreau didn’t have much to shoot at, but fired one perfectly off the crossbar, off Skarek, and in.
Thomas Ebbing then scored at 4:11 to make it 3-0 on a shot Skarek never saw because he didn’t know where the puck was. Gooch fired a pass from behind the goal line to the left of Skarek out into the slot. Skarek had no idea where the puck went and was actually looking over his right shoulder in a vain attempt to locate the puck as it was being shot from 15-feet in front of him.
Gooch’s second of the contest made it 4-0 at 6:49 when he fired a puck through a screen and beat Skarek, who never saw the puck until it hit the net behind him over the blocker side. Railers head coach Dave Cunniff had seen enough and pulled Skarek in favor of Evan Buitenhuis.
Reading got their only “high quality” goal at 15:00 when Gooch finished his hat trick bid with an absolute laser from the left side circle that beat Buitenhuis clean over the blocker side for the 5-0 Reading lead.
Nic Pierog spoiled Kirill Ustimenko’s shutout bid at 19:05 when he took a high feed from Ben Thomson, gloved it out of the air, and backhanded one past Ustimenko’s blocker. Justin Murray had the secondary assist on the play.
The two teams play again Saturday night, with a 7pm puck drop.
Scratches for the Railers were JD Dudek (14-day IR/upper), Phil Johannson, Jack MacNee, Ian Milosz, Tanner Pond (14-day IR/upper), Dylan Sadowy (travel), Kyle Thomas (14-day/lower), and Yanick Turcotte (14-day IR/upper). Evan Buitenhuis started the game as the back-up netminder, entering the game at 6:49 of the second period. Turcotte had jaw surgery this week and will be out for the foreseeable future.
Gone from the Railers, at least for now, is Jordan Samuels-Thomas, who was suspended by the club on Thursday so he can pursue opportunities in Europe. As is the case most times when an ECHL team suspends a player, the move is simply so the Railers maintain Samuels-Thomas’ ECHL rights. Should Samuels-Thomas not be able to find an overseas team to play with and wishes to play again this season in North America Worcester would still own his ECHL player rights. He is the fourth player suspended by the Railers this season, joining Bobby Shea, Anthony Florentino, and Jake Marchment on the list. Shea is playing for ORG Beijing of the VHL, the KHL’s top-tier minor league. Neither Florentino nor Marchment have played since being suspended.
To replace Samuels-Thomas on the roster the Sound Tigers have assigned Dylan Sadowy to the Railers. Sadowy, a former San Jose Sharks draft pick, was the “future considerations” Bridgeport received when they sent John Stevens to the Utica Comets earlier this season. This weekend Sadowy is driving from Kalamazoo to Bridgeport, where he’ll be given a physical before moving on to Worcester. He’s expected to join the team on Monday.
The three stars of the game were
1. REA – 7 Trevor Gooch
2. REA – 18 Thomas Ebbing
3. REA – 3 Rob Michel
The 210Sports Player of the Game is Nic Pierog.
Even Strength Lines
Thomson / Pierog / Durandeau
Olsson / Payne / Salituro
Almeida / Callin / Brauer
Murray / MacKinnon
Stander / Doherty
McKenzie / Chukarov
Reading 1 4 0 – 5
Worcester 0 1 0 – 1
1st Period-1, Reading, Gooch 7 (Michel), 7:05. Penalties-Murray Wor (kneeing), 9:46; Hodgson Rea (hooking), 15:17; Hodgson Rea (fighting – major), 19:25; Olsson Wor (fighting – major), 19:25; Pierog Wor (slashing), 19:33.
2nd Period-2, Reading, Gaudreau 10 (Mackin, Knodel), 0:19 (PP). 3, Reading, Ebbing 6 (Gooch), 4:11. 4, Reading, Gooch 8 (Michel), 6:49. 5, Reading, Gooch 9 15:00. 6, Worcester, Pierog 18 (Thomson, Murray), 19:05. Penalties-No Penalties
3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Gooch Rea (tripping), 4:02; Beaudry Rea (unsportsmanlike conduct), 17:38; Durandeau Wor (unsportsmanlike conduct), 17:38.
Shots on Goal-Reading 10-10-5-25. Worcester 14-9-14-37.
Power Play Opportunities-Reading 1 / 2; Worcester 0 / 2.
Goalies-Reading, Ustimenko 17-4-5-0 (37 shots-36 saves). Worcester, Skarek 2-5-1-0 (14 shots-10 saves); Buitenhuis 11-14-1-0 (11 shots-10 saves).
Referees-Alex Normandin (26).
Linesmen-Brent Colby (77), Andrew Bell (73).