The Worcester Railers hosted the Atlanta Gladiators at the DCU Center Saturday night for the first ever meeting between the two franchises but Worcester fans saw more of the same as inconsistent goalkeeping and some incredibly poor officiating put them on the wrong end of a 5-4 overtime contest during “Pink in the Rink” night.
The Railers don’t need any help losing games as they struggle to find their identity under recently hired head coach and general manager Dave Cunniff, but they certainly seem to get a lot of it when ECHL referee Casey Terreri is involved in the contest. Terreri, the nephew of Railers’ goaltending coach Chris Terreri, seems to be going out of his way to show he’s not biased for his uncle’s team.
According to longtime Worcester beat reporter Bill Ballou the Railers are 0-6-1 in Casey Terreri’s last seven games as the referee, so that pretty much tells you that there’s an issue with Terreri’s officiating.
This writer has been around hockey for a very, very long time, and poor officiating comes with the territory. I don’t like it, but I accept it. I also accept that the ECHL is a developmental league not only for the players but for the officials too, and as such you’re going to get some wildly inconsistent call levels. But that’s not what the Railers get from Casey Terreri. His calls in games involving Worcester are so consistent you could bet on them going against the team.
And that’s a huge issue that needs to be looked at.
It’s too bad because last night was a pretty entertaining game. There’s no way that the written word can accurately describe how nice the pink ice and both teams in dark colored jerseys looked, so I’ll share the Railers YouTube highlight package.
I’d mention to watch the pivotal non-call that leads to the overtime game winner, but it’s hard to miss.
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). Evan Buitenhuis was the back-up goaltender.
In one of the more amusing transactions you’ll see, when the Railers released Phil Johannson on Friday he had to pass through waivers, and he was claimed by Atlanta and played for the Gladiators Saturday against Worcester. He didn’t play much and didn’t hit the score sheet at all.
With it being the first time these two clubs met this season we’ll take a look at some of the connections between the squads and some players with local ties. Atlanta defenseman Robert Powers played 20 games with the Railers during the 2019-20 campaign, going 1-4-5 and minus-6 over that span. Two fellow blueliners had collegiate careers in Massachusetts, with Chris Forney spending four seasons at UMass-Lowell and Alexey Solovyev being a four year player for Bentley University. Forward Nick Bligh, who is currently injured, spent 19 games with Railers in 2018-19 where he had five goals and four assists 5-4-9 before being traded in early December. For the Railers, Jack Stander spent parts of the last three seasons with Atlanta going 4-13-18 in 84 games, Bo Brauer was scoreless in 5 games in 2018-19, and Tanner Pond split last two seasons with Providence and Atlanta going 16-28-44 in 64 ECHL games.
In what is likely a first for the Railers franchise, they were hit with a “Premature Substitution” infraction in overtime when goaltender Jakob Skarek headed to the bench on a delayed penalty call so an extra attacker could jump on. That extra attacker didn’t wait until Skarek was within five feet of the bench, so the linesman correctly called Worcester for the “Premature Substitution” and the ensuing face-off went to the center ice dot.
Ricky Duran, a Worcester native that was the runner-up on Season 17 of The Voice on NBC, sang the national anthem before the game and it was this writer’s opinion it was the second best performance of the anthem this season. Longtime readers will know who I have declared the best, and why, so there’s no need to mention it.
The three stars of the game were
1. ATL – 38 Cody Corbett
2. WOR – 61 Nic Pierog
3. ATL – 74 Zach Malatesta
The 210Sports Player of the Game is Ben Thomson.
Even Strength Lines
Almeida / Pierog / Walsh
Thomson / Callin / Durandeau
Salituro / Olsson / Brauer
Murray / MacKinnon
Stander / Chukarov
McKenzie / Doherty
Atlanta 3 1 0 1 – 5
Worcester 2 1 1 0 – 4
1st Period-1, Worcester, Durandeau 5 (Thomson), 1:24. 2, Atlanta, Malatesta 6 (Marchin, Asselin), 3:34. 3, Atlanta, Malatesta 7 (Corbett, Nelson), 5:09 (PP). 4, Atlanta, Nelson 9 (Nesbitt, Neiley), 6:32. 5, Worcester, Almeida 13 (Pierog, Doherty), 17:38. Penalties-Thomson Wor (high-sticking), 3:57.
2nd Period-6, Worcester, Thomson 4 (Salituro, MacKinnon), 1:30. 7, Atlanta, Thrower 2 (Peterson), 4:04. Penalties-Peterson Atl (high-sticking), 8:23.
3rd Period-8, Worcester, Pierog 19 (Callin, Thomson), 19:47. Penalties-Corbett Atl (hooking), 1:31; Stander Wor (tripping), 3:00; Olsson Wor (slashing), 8:29; Malatesta Atl (instigating, fighting – major), 10:46; Brauer Wor (high-sticking – double, fighting – major), 10:46; Marchin Atl (hooking), 15:16.
OT Period-9, Atlanta, Corbett 3 (Peterson, Messner), 5:21. Penalties-Nesbitt Atl (tripping), 1:47.
Shots on Goal-Atlanta 13-15-7-5-40. Worcester 17-6-15-4-42.
Power Play Opportunities-Atlanta 1 / 4; Worcester 0 / 4.
Goalies-Atlanta, Nell 9-11-1-1 (42 shots-38 saves). Worcester, Skarek 2-5-2-0 (40 shots-35 saves).
Referees-Casey Terreri (14).
Linesmen-Andrew Bell (73), Shane Kanaly (74).