Today in Worcester hockey history: February 5


1997 at Fredericton 3-2 win OT
The Worcester IceCats gave up two goals in the first 2:15 of the contest but battled back to get the game tied and into overtime, where Terry Virtue scored his first pro career overtime goal to give the ‘Cats a 3-2 win. The Canadiens had just 16 players in the line-up–two under the usual 18 that includes that two goaltenders–but they still came out of the gate on fire as Todd Sparks (1:55) and Miloslav Guren (2:15) gave Fredericton the 2-0 lead. In the second period Konstantin Shafranov got the IceCats within one when he connected on a low shot from about 25-feet out on the power play. Marquis Mathieu and Virtue had the assists on the play. Stephane Roy tied the game at 9:06 when he deflected an Alex Vasilevskii feed into the net. Chris Kenady had the secondary assist on the goal. To overtime the teams would go, where Virtue would fire the puck over a pile of players in front of the net and just under the crossbar for the win at 1:09. Rob Pearson and Chad Dameworth were credited with the assists. Jamie McLennan made 27 saves for the ‘Cats.

1999 at St. John’s 4-3 loss
(ST JOHN’S) Come February, when the days are still short, the snow still deep and the temperatures still low, there are plenty of folks who suffer from mid-winter blahs. Apparently it’s an affliction that can strike an entire team of hockey players as well. Just ask the Worcester IceCats, winless in their last seven games (0-5-2) after falling, 4-3, to the St. John’s Maple Leafs last night. The loss also drops Worcester below the .500 mark, a territory with which it has been unfamiliar this season. Derek Bekar scored twice on the power play, and Andrej Podkonicky added a single marker for the IceCats, who outshot the Leafs, 41-27. But despite carrying the play in the third period when the shots were 13-4 in their favor, the ‘Cats could not find a way to get the tying goal after Bekar’s second of the night midway through the frame brought them to within one. Mark Deyell had two goals and defenseman D.J. Smith and Nathan Dempsey scored once each for St. John’s, which trailed for only 75 seconds of the contest. That was when Bekar scored his first of the night at 7:33 of the second period, banging a rebound through the legs of Leafs goalie Marc Robitaille, the former Northeastern star. However, Smith knotted the score at 8:48, and before the period was over, St. John’s had a two-goal cushion on goals by Deyell and Dempsey. The latter goal, which turned out to be the game-winner, marked the second time a Leafs defenseman was able to sneak down from the blue line, receive a pass and slide a shot past Worcester goalie Brent Johnson. Veteran defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick, who missed the previous seven games because of injury, returned to action for Worcester, but the continued absences of Stephane Roy (hand) and Jason Widmer (knee) were particularly noticeable.

2000 at Louisville 3-1 loss
(TICKER) Richard Shulmistra stopped 47 shots and Peter Ratchuk scored the deciding goal in the first period as the Louisville Panthers defeated the Worcester IceCats, 3-1. Shulmistra, who turned aside the final 35 shots he faced, captured his 12th win of the season. Kirby Law tied the score at 1-1 with 5:53 left in the opening period and Ratchuk snapped the tie 4 1/2 minutes later for Louisville, which has won nine of its last 11 games. Jim Campbell opened the scoring at 9:24 in the first period for Worcester, which outshot the Panthers, 48-29. Cody Rudkowsky had 26 saves for the IceCats.

2003 at Providence 2-2 tie
The Worcester IceCats got two goals from Jason Dawe, and that was good enough to earn a point in a 2-2 tie with the P-Bruins. Andy Hilbert had both Providence goals. Hilbert scored his first at 1:29 of the first period for the 1-0 Baby-Bs lead, and Dawe tied it 16:41. Hilbert made it 2-1 at 6:39 of the second, and Dawe would tie it again at 9:54 of the third. Both Andrew Raycroft and Cody Rudkowsky had 31 saves.

2005 vs Albany 3-2 loss
The Worcester IceCats threw 55 shots on River Rats netminder Ari Ahonen but could only beat him twice in a 3-2 loss to Albany. The River Rats would have a three goal lead halfway through the second period with goals by Ahren Nittel at 8:47 of the opening period, and Dean McAmmond (5:26) and Ivan Khomutov (9:10) scoring in the middle stanza. Jon DiSalvatore scored on the power play, assisted by Dennis Wideman and Jay McClement, at 16:21 to make it 3-1. Peter Sejna would score on a delayed penalty call while shorthanded at 7:59 of the third period, with assist going to McClement and Aaron MacKenzie, but that was as close as the ‘Cats would get. Curtis Sanford started the game and took the loss, stopping 13 of 16 shots. Chris Beckford-Tseu was a perfect seven for seven in just under 30 minutes of play in his only appearance for the IceCats.

2010 vs Lowell 3-0 win
(WORSHARKS) Tyson Sexsmith stopped all 21 shots he faced and the Worcester Sharks once again came through on their promise to win the game as they knocked off the Lowell Devils, 3-0. The Sharks win, coupled with the Monarchs loss in Adirondack, catapults Worcester into first place in the Atlantic Division with 66 points. Andrew Desjardins scored the game-winner early in the second period while Danny Groulx extended his point streak to eight games with a goal and an assist. Neither team was able to muster much offense in the first period of play and the score stayed, 0-0, after the opening twenty minutes. Both teams were 0-2 on the power play. Worcester had the better of the sustained pressure and outshot Lowell, 14-4. As they so often do, Worcester came out with early second period pressure that led to a goal at the 1:37 mark. After a solid Dennis McCauley rush down the right wing kept the puck alive, John McCarthy centered a pass from behind the net onto the stick of Desjardins (13) who tipped one past Jeff Frazee giving Worcester a 1-0 lead. The physical play was ratcheted up a notch leading to a Mike Moore bout with Louis Robitaille with the decision going to Moore. Lowell had multiple opportunities towards the end of the period, but Sexsmith was strong and kept the Devils scoreless through two periods. Worcester held the shot advantage, 16-12. The score remained tight throughout most of the third period until McCauley (7) beat everyone down the ice and scored into an empty net with 59 seconds remaining. Groulx (8) capped the scoring with another empty-netter to make the final, 3-0 Worcester. The Sharks outshot the Devils, 7-5. Worcester’s record improves to 31-14-2-2 (66 points). Worcester now has an eight-game point streak (7-0-1-0).

2011 vs Providence 2-0 win
(WORSHARKS) Carter Hutton made 20 saves for his first professional shutout as the Sharks defeated the Providence Bruins by the score of 2-0 on Saturday evening in front of 6,061 fans at the DCU Center. Joe Loprieno scored his second goal of the season and Brandon Mashinter added an empty netter as the Sharks won their season high 4th straight game. With the win, the Sharks concluded their season long six game home stand 4-1-0-1. Neither team would find the back of the net in a tentative first period as the Sharks outshot the Bruins 11-5. Andrew Desjardins and Joe Colborne dropped the mitts at 11:00 for the only penalties of the opening frame. Brandon Mashinter and Nathan McIver scrapped at 1:43 of the second period in an entertaining bout that ended with McIver hitting the ice. The Sharks were denied on consecutive power plays before finding the back of the net while even strength. Joe Loprieno (2nd) deflected in a Justin Braun shot from the right point past Matt Dalton to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead. The Sharks led 1-0 after two periods and outshot the Bruins 20-11 through forty minutes. Carter Hutton made several nice saves in the third period, the best after he stopped Kirk MacDonald on a rebound chance in front of the Sharks net with three minutes remaining. Brandon Mashinter (9th) added an empty net goal for the Sharks first shutout victory of the season. The Sharks record improves to 24-18-2-6 with 56 points (good for 3rd place in the Atlantic Division) and to 14-8-1-3 at the DCU Center.

2013 at St. John’s 3-2 win
(WORSHARKS) The Worcester Sharks (21-18-1-5, 48pts) opened up their season long six game road trip with a hard fought come from behind 3-2 victory over the St. John’s IceCaps (21-23-1-2, 45pts) on Tuesday evening in front of another sellout crowd of 6,287 fans at the Mile One Centre. Bracken Kearns tied the score at 16:42 of the 3rd period with his team leading 7th power play goal and rookie Daniil Tarasov won it with 91 seconds left deflecting home a Tim Kennedy shot from the right circle. Harri Sateri was brilliant making 30 saves for his 9th win of the season as Kennedy (0-3-3) and Kearns (1-2-3) each picked up three points in the win. The Sharks came out blazing in the opening frame and rookie Daniil Tarasov (4th) snapped a wicked shot from inside the right circle with Bracken Kearns setting up a screen on top of the crease on goaltender Eddie Pasquale to give Worcester a 1-0 lead at 1:32. The IceCaps tied the score at 10:05 as captain Jason Jaffrey (7th) scored a breakaway shorthanded goal with a nice move and shot past Harri Sateri. It was a physical first period with Worcester holding a 12-10 shot advantage through 20 minutes. Neither team scored in the middle frame but it was not for the lack of great chances. Harri Sateri made a super stack the pads save on Kevin Clark with 90 seconds left in the period and Eddie Pasquale made a great glove save on a deflected shot off the stick of Tim Kennedy with under 30 seconds left. Each team had 20 shots through 40 minutes with the score tied at 1-1. In the third period, Jason Jaffrey (8th) gave St. John’s a 2-1 lead with a power play deflection score at 6:31 but the Sharks would come barreling back. Bracken Kearns (11th) ripped a shot from in tight on the power play at 16:42 to tie the score at 2-2. After Bracken Kearns made a nice entry into the offensive zone, Tim Kennedy swung the puck towards the net and Daniil Tarasov (5th) was set up perfectly in front of the net to tip it past the shoulder of the IceCaps netminder with 91 seconds remaining to give the Sharks a 3-2 lead. Jason Jaffrey had a great opportunity for the hat trick and to tie the score in the final seconds but Sateri made a sliding glove stop to secure the victory. The Sharks overall record falls to 21-18-1-5 (48pts in 45gp) and 13-9-0-2 (26pts in 24gp) on the road this season.

Cliff Rucker was unanimously approved by the ECHL Board of Governors for an expansion team in Worcester.

2022 vs Kalamazoo 2-1 OTL
(RAILERS) Railers fans got a taste of what the post-season feels like Saturday night. Their team and the Kalamazoo Wings played a tight one, but not without action, although the visitors prevailed, 2-1, in overtime. Justin Taylor got the winning goal 53 seconds into the extra session. The result was even more painful considering that the Railers had a1-0 lead with less than three minutes left in the third period. Matheson Iacopelli scored the tying goal for Kalamazoo at 17:21, cutting around a defender to beat Colten Ellis with a shot under the crossbar. Nick Albano had the Railers goal. Ellis was tremendous again, as was Kalamazoo’s Trevor Gorsuch. The final shots favored the Wings, 36-34, but many of the saves were sensational and both teams had great scoring chances that did not result in goals. For goalies, overtime losses count as plain, old losses while shooutout ones don’t, so Ellis took an accounting defeat as he did in Reading on Jan. 7. However, the Railers have picked up at least a point in each of his last six starts. “He was great,” coach David Cunniff said. “He gave us a chance to win, but it never should have gotten that far.” As wild as Railers games have been lately, three goals is not a comfortable lead, let alone one. Albano scored at 1:06 of the second period and Worcester protected that slim margin for what seemed like forever, then finally buckled. “We stopped making plays. That was uncharacteristic of us. I thought we just started punting too many pucks,” Cunniff said. The Railers seemed to do everything well except score throughout the night. “We had a lot of chances but everything was a shot,” Cunniff said. “We didn’t go to the net. We made it too easy. We lost the battle of the crease tonight. (Saturday) night we won the battle of the creases.” However disappointing the outcome, especially considering how close Worcester came to winning, the loss was not a total loss. The Railers got a point out of it and Kalamazoo is not a divisional opponent, so Worcester did not suffer a double setback in the playoff picture. The first period was scoreless, but not chanceless. The Railers had more of them and Gorsuch was sharp, especially early. Ten minutes into it Worcester had a 15-1 edge in shots on goal, but right after that the Wings had the best chance of the period. Iacopelli was sent in cleanly at 10:10 and closed to within about 20 feet. Ellis did not give him much net to work with, though, and he was able to smother the shot. It was the first scoreless period of any description in a Railers game since the first period on Jan. 22, Worcester’s 3-2 victory over Adirondack. That covered 17 straight periods with at least one goal. Albano’s goal came on the power play. He was set up by Liam Coughlin at the center point and beat Gorsuch with a low shot that changed direction on the way in. It was Albano’s fourth goal of the season and they have all been different. He has scored 5 on 5, 5 on 4 Saturday night, 5 on 3 and 4 on 3. Ellis had to stop a breakaway by Logan Lambdin just 38 seconds after the puck was dropped. The Wings then controlled a faceoff in the Railers end and Taylor wound up winning it by sliding home a rebound from about 10 feet out. MAKING TRACKS_The teams finish this February trifecta with a 3:05 game this afternoon. Worcester is 10-15-3 all-time in third games of 3 in 3s. … Bobby Butler returned to action after coming off the Covid list, but was held pointless. … The Railers suspended rookie Danny Katic, who never played a game for them. It was not disciplinary. Katic was caught in Worcester’s improving roster numbers and left to pursue other opportunities with no hard feelings. By suspending him, Worcester retains his ECHL rights. … Ken Appleby came back from Bridgeport and was Ellis’ backup…. The game featured another referee making his DCU Center debut, Rocco Stachowiak. … A nod to the Wings for having excellent road uniforms. … Ross Olsson got a night of rest while Albano was back in the lineup after a four-game absence. Will Cullen did not dress. … This marked just the third time a Railers goalie lost a shutout bid in the final five minutes of the third period. It happened once apiece to Mitch Gillam and Evan Buitenhuis … The crowd was 4,532, the seventh of the season over 4,000.

2023 vs South Carolina 4-2 loss
(RAILERS) The Worcester Railers fell to the South Carolina Stingrays by a 4-2 final on Sunday afternoon to wrap up the teams fifth three-in-three weekend of the season. The loss overshadowed a fabulous return from Bridgeport by forward Jimmy Lambert. He set up the first Worcester goal to make it a 2-1 game, then finished a sensational individual effort to make it 2-2 just 32 seconds into the the third period. However, Kevin O’Neil responded with a goal for South Carolina at 3:38 to put the Stingrays back in the lead and Tarek Baker hit an empty net at 19:11 to nail it down. Brent Moran stopped 32 of the 35 shots he faced for Worcester. South Carolina goaltender Clay Stevenson made 27 saves and he was really, really good in two appearances over the weekend. Stevenson looks a lot like former IceCats goaltender Frederic Cassivi, who had a great pro career. Stevenson, a rookie, is off to a great start in his. He was 3-0-0 with the AHL Hershey Bears and is 12-3-4 for South Carolina. Anthony Repaci had the other Railers goal. Bear Hughes and Andrew Cherniwchan had the other Stingrays goals. Hughes got the game’s first goal, putting the visitors ahead by 1-0 at 4:57 of the first period. He beat Moran with a wrist shot to the blocker side from about 25 feet out. Cherniwchan, who played here against the Sharks in 2014-15 when he was with the Providence Bruins, gave South Carolina a 2-0 lead with a power play goal at 11:15 of the second period. Ryan Scarfo found Cherniwchan alone in the left circle and Moran had no chance to get across in time to make the save. The Railers cut their deficit in half at 16:42 on Repaci’s goal. Lambert made a terrific play to set it up as he circled around the offensive zone, drew defenders in his direction, then found Repaci alone outside the left post. Lambert’s dynamic solo rush to open the third period got the crowd aroused and gave the Railers some momentum but Stevenson held them off and his teammates took advantage of his excellence to get the last two goals of the game. MAKING TRACKS – The Railers’ next three games are against the Reading Royals, two of them at the DCU Center. Worcester plays at Reading Tuesday morning, then the Royals are in town for games on Friday and Saturday nights. … Jack Quinlivan, Philip Beaulieu, Jared Brandt and Ken Appleby are on injured reserve. Liam Coughlin, Noah Delmas, Nolan Vesey, and Collin Adams were the other Railers who did not dress for the game. In contrast, Zack Bross returned to the lineup.


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