The Worcester Railers once again took a two hour bus ride north to Portland to take on the Maine Mariners, and despite playing one of their best games in franchise history in The Pine Tree State it was a familiar result as Worcester dropped a 2-1 contest. The Railers are now just 1-7-2-2 at the Cross Insurance Arena all-time.
Worcester controlled the early part of the opening frame, and at one point had an 11-1 shots advantage. As he usually does against the Railers, Maine goaltender Connor LaCouvee was up to the task. Slowly the Mariners picked up their game, and as often happens to Worcester the opponent would make a nice play to take the lead.
This time it was Ryan Culkin sending Dillin Fox in alone on a breakaway against Evan Buitenhuis on a pass that went between four Worcester players. Fox then split the Railers defense, who were essentially standing still, and beat Buitenhuis low on the blocker side at 14:50.
Maine would take a 2-0 lead at 13:28 on a three on two break that, to be blunt, is one Buitenhuis has to make a save on. The Railers defense did a good job of keeping the play from getting close to Buitenhuis and from preventing a backdoor pass. That left Buitenhuis to stop Morgan Adams-Moisan’s shot from the right face-off dot. Only Buitenhuis didn’t square up to Adams-Moisan, and the goaltender hardly waved at the puck as it went flying past him into the far corner.
Justin Murray would get the Railers within one with his first pro goal at 5:36 of the third period. Murray fired a booming slap shot from the top of the circle to the right of LaCouvee, who was screened by Ross Olsson and never saw the puck. Bo Brauer and Dante Salituro had the assists on the play.
The rest of the way Worcester had many good bids against LaCouvee, but he continued to stymie the Railers. After pulling Buitenhuis the Railers had 32 seconds of six on three play, but LaCouvee never faltered. With the win LaCouvee improved his record over the Railers this season to 5-0-0-1, with a 1.31 goals against and an incredible.960 save percentage.
Scratches for the Railers were JD Dudek (14-day IR/upper), Jack Macnee, Ian Milosz, Cody Payne (sick), Tanner Pond (14-day IR/upper), Dylan Sadowy (14-day IR/upper), Kyle Thomas (14-day/lower), and Yanick Turcotte (14-day IR/upper). Jakob Skarek was the back-up goaltender.
There were some transactions this week for Worcester, with the Railers releasing defenseman Phil Johannson. The rookie defenseman had two assists in 11 games with Worcester, and presuming he clears waivers he’ll return to the SPHL’s Huntsville Havoc. Speaking of the SPHL, the Railers dipped into that league to sign forward Bryce Nielsen of the Knoxville Ice Bears. Nielsen saw limited action as Worcester’s tenth forward Friday night.
There’s finally some clarity to the Dylan Sadowy situation, as the Railers have added the former San Jose Sharks draft pick to the Injured Reserve list. In the pregame show Friday Head Coach Dave Cunniff indicated it was a shoulder injury for Sadowy, and he was still a few weeks away from playing. Sadowy was the future considerations the Bridgeport Sound Tigers received in exchange for sending John Stevens to Utica on January 10th. Why a team would accept as future considerations an injured player so far away from playing is a question that probably should be asked, along with why the Railers are now forced to pay a portion of the salary for a player they can’t use.
The three stars of the game were
1. MNE – 40 Connor LaCouvee
2. MNE – 13 Dillan Fox
3. MNE – 32 Morgan Adams-Moisan
The 210Sports Player of the Game is Justin Murray.
Even Strength Lines
Almeida / Pierog / Walsh
Thomson / Callin / Durandeau
Salituro / Olsson / Brauer
Murray / MacKinnon
Stander / Chukarov
McKenzie / Doherty
Worcester 0 0 1 – 1
Maine 1 1 0 – 2
1st Period-1, Maine, Fox 20 (Culkin, Hart), 14:50. Penalties-Crevier-Morin Mne (hooking), 2:06; Wallin Mne (tripping), 3:36; MacKinnon Wor (roughing), 9:08; Salituro Wor (tripping), 15:54; Thomson Wor (slashing), 19:28; Crevier-Morin Mne (tripping), 19:28.
2nd Period-2, Maine, Adams-Moisan 7 (Hart, Ferrill), 13:28. Penalties-Chase Mne (elbowing), 6:26; Salituro Wor (slashing), 7:46; Pierog Wor (tripping), 16:56; Callin Wor (tripping), 17:19.
3rd Period-3, Worcester, Murray 1 (Brauer, Salituro), 5:36. Penalties-Ferrill Mne (high-sticking – double), 16:44; Culkin Mne (tripping), 19:28.
Shots on Goal-Worcester 13-14-19-46. Maine 12-8-7-27.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 0 / 5; Maine 0 / 5.
Goalies-Worcester, Buitenhuis 11-17-1-0 (27 shots-25 saves). Maine, LaCouvee 16-9-1-1 (46 shots-45 saves).
Referees-Steven Sailor (5).
Linesmen-Shane Kanaly (74), Andrew Bell (73).