Today in Worcester hockey history: February 13


1998 at Syracuse 3-2 win
The Worcester IceCats finally broke out of their slump and played a full 60 minutes, firing 43 shots on goal to defeat the Crunch 3-2. Ex-IceCats winger Tyson Nash had the only goal of the opening period, at 14:28, to give Syracuse the 1-0 lead. In the second period Chris Kenady got the game tying goal at 8:03 on the power play, but it was Michal Handzus who did most of the work. Handzus stole the puck away from the Crunch in the ‘Cats zone and skated up ice two on one with Kenady. Handzus held the puck until the last second, feeding Kenady just as he got to the net. Stephane Roy gave Worcester the lead with a bad angle goal that hit the post, crossbar, and then the back of Syracuse netminder Corey Hirsch before it rolled into the net. Mike Prokopec had the lone helper on the power play goal at 12:48. Lubos Bartecko made it 3-1 with an unassisted goal at 12:09 of the third when he picked up a loose puck at center ice and skated through the Crunch defense to score. Sven Butenschoen had an extra attacker goal at 19:42 for the 3-2 final. Fred Cassivi made 27 saves in the game.

1999 vs Hartford 3-2 loss
The Worcester IceCats looked to be headed to overtime against the Wolf Pack until Hartford scored a late regulation goal to win 3-2. Brad Smyth got the Wolf Pack on the board with a power play goal at 6:30 of the opening period. Seven minutes at 13:30 later Dan Corso tied the game with a shorthanded goal assisted by Shayne Toporowski. At 6:11 of the second period Andrej Podkonicky gave the ‘Cats the 2-1 lead, with Jochen Hecht and Lubos Bartecko picking up the helpers. Jan Mertzig would tie the game for Hartford at 19:04. With time running down on the third period Christian Dube would score the game winner with exactly a minute remaining in regulation. Brent Johnson had 29 saves in the loss.

2000 vs Portland 2-1 loss
(TICKER) Martin Brochu stopped 20 shots for his league-leading 27th win and Mike Peluso had a goal and an assist as the Portland Pirates edged the Worcester IceCats, 2-1. Brochu, who made 17 saves over the final two periods, lowered his league-best goals-against average to 2.10. Peluso opened the scoring 4:36 into the first period for Portland, which is unbeaten in 11 of its last 13 games (10-2-1). Jakub Ficenec’s tally with 5:39 left in the second made it 2-0. Sylvain Blouin ended Brochu’s shutout bid on the power play 7:11 into the third period. Brent Johnson suffered his 14th loss despite 41 saves.

2004 at Providence 3-2 win
The Worcester IceCats used two third period goals to upend the Bruins 3-2 in a Friday night contest at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Matt Herr had the only goal of the opening twenty minutes, at 7:34. The teams would then exchange power play markers in the middle period, with Ernie Hartlieb connecting at 8:57, assisted by Tom Koivisto and Terry Virtue, and Rich Brennan scoring at 16:52 for Providence. Brendan Brooks, with help from Jame Pollock and Aaron MacKenzie, got the ‘Cats back to even at 8:34 of the third, and then Jay McClement would score the game winner at 14:01, with Johnny Pohl and Sergei Varlamov getting the assists. Curtis Sanford made 20 saves in the victory.

2008 at Bridgeport 3-0 loss
(WORSHARKS) Despite a season-high 41 shots on goal, the Worcester Sharks couldn’t beat goaltender Mike Morrison as he led the Bridgeport Sound Tigers to a 3-0 victory on Wednesday evening at the Arena at Harbor Yard. With Springfield and Manchester also losing, the Sharks remain four points behind Manchester for fifth place and seven behind Springfield for fourth. Morrison finished with 41 saves on 41 shots, his fourth shutout of the season. Sharks goaltender Thomas Greiss made 20 stops on 23 shots. After over five minutes of defensive and cautious hockey, Riley Armstrong gave Morrison his first true test at 7:15 of the first period. Derek Joslin, who was stationed behind the Sharks’ blue line, made the pass to Armstrong streaking up ice. Armstrong skated in all alone on Morrison. After going to his backhand and baiting the Sound Tigers’ netminder to commit to the low shot, Morrison was still able to get a piece of the puck, keeping the game scoreless. A few minutes later, Bridgeport had an opportunity when Kyle Okposo took a shot from the left wing circle that bounced off the post to the right of Greiss. Bridgeport lit the lamp first at 17:44 of the first period when Okposo converted on a 5-on-3 power play. With Brad Staubitz already in the penalty box for high sticking, Devin Setoguchi was called for boarding, giving the Sound Tigers 37 seconds of a two-man advantage. It only took them 12 of those seconds, as Opkoso buried a one-timer from the top of the left wing circle for his fifth goal of the season. Ben Walter and Tim Jackman were credited with the assists on the play. The Sharks held the 11-8 shot advantage after one period. Worcester came out in the second period with an extra jump in its step, but was unable to find the back of the net. After playing the majority of the second period in the Sharks’ offensive zone, the Sound Tigers took advantage of one of their few offensive opportunities to up their lead to 2-0 at 12:12. Okposo carried the puck into the zone and left it behind the net to Trevor Smith. Smith made the pass to Jackman, who was skating toward the net from center ice. Jackman let go a shot from 40 feet away that was ticketed for the top shelf for his fifth of the season. After out shooting the Sound Tigers 15-8 in the second period, the Sharks held the 26-16 shot advantage heading into the second intermission. At 5:51 of the third period, Bridgeport took a high-sticking penalty, giving Worcester its fourth power play of the game. The Sharks put numerous quality opportunities on net, with none better than T.J. Fox’s chance. Off a rebound, Fox controlled a bouncing puck and put it right back on goal. As Morrison was falling down, he was able to get a piece of the puck to keep the shutout bid alive. Bridgeport made the Sharks pay when they opened up a three-goal advantage at 8:45. Smith capitalized on a Dan Spang turnover in front of the Sharks net. He dangled the puck until Greiss went down, and flipped it over the Worcester goaltender for his sixth of the season. With less than 10 minutes remaining in the third, the Sharks were denied once again, but this time by the post. Setoguchi made a cross-crease pass to Tom Cavanagh, but Cavanagh’s shot hit iron. A few minutes later, Graham Mink had an opportunity from between the two face-off circles, but his fluttering shot hit the crossbar as well

2009 at Portland 2-1 loss
(WORSHARKS) Tom Cavanagh scored a first period power play goal but the Pirates scored two in the second and held off a late Sharks attack in Portland. The Sharks would score first for the first time on the seven game road trip as Tom Cavanagh scored a 5on3 power play goal at 11:06 of the first period after a nice feed by Riley Armstrong. Riley fired the puck from the right corner to Cavanagh set up in the right slot as Cavanagh notched his 10th of the season. The Sharks would take a 1-0 lead into the first intermission outshooting the Pirates 12-8. The Pirates would even the score at 7:00 of the 2nd period after their power play expired. Mark Mancari’s 60-foot shot went off a skate in front of Taylor Dakers for Mancari’s 20th of the season. Then, with the Sharks on the power play, Felix Schutz was stopped by Dakers on a breakaway but referee Nigel Pelletier ruled that Patrick Traverse was hooking him and issued a penalty shot. Schutz would score the first ever penalty shot against the Sharks after he broke in down the right side, cut across the net slowly, and shot the puck above a sprawled Dakers at 13:16. The Sharks would trail 2-1 after 40 minutes and the Pirates had a 21-19 shot advantage. The two teams would combine for just 12 shots in the third period with each team recording six a piece and neither team would find the back of the net as the Pirates held off a late Sharks attack. The loss drops Worcester’s record to 27-23-0-2 and are 1-4-0-0 on their seven game road trip.

2019 at Maine 5-4 OTL
(RAILERS) The Worcester Railers HC (21-20-5-3, 50pts) began their season long seven-game road trip with a disappointing 5-4 overtime loss to the host Maine Mariners (24-24-0-1, 49pts) in front of 1,352 fans at the Cross Insurance Arena on Wednesday evening. The Railers squandered a three goal third period lead before dropping the game in overtime. Barry Almeida (1-1-2), Ryan Hitchcock, Tyler Barnes (1-1-2), and Dylan Willick all scored for Worcester while Mitch Gillam made 28 saves in net with Tyler Barnes extending his Worcester pro hockey record with a goal in eight straight games as he netted his 21st of the season and extended his point streak to a franchise record ten games (10-4-14). Maine scored three goals in the final 13 minutes of the third period to force overtime before Brycen Martin (6th) won the game in the extra session at 2:57 while netminder Connor LaCouvee made 43 saves in net for the win. Maine went ahead 1-0 as Jason Salvaggio (10th) sent a shot from the left circle that snuck through goaltender Mitch Gillam at 7:25 of the first period. Just 42 seconds later, Maine netminder Connor LaCouvee lost the puck behind the net and Barry Almeida (13th) was able to win the puck and sweep it around the far post for an easy score. Shots were 18-15 in favor of Worcester through 20 minutes of play with the score knotted at 1-1. The Railers played very well in the second period and scored twice to go ahead 3-1. Ryan Hitchcock (9th) gave Worcester their first lead of the night after Tyler Barnes won the puck behind the net and zipped it in front and found Hitchcock for a wicked shot from 25 feet at 1:15. After Alex Vanier dropped the mitts with Terrence Wallin at 14:31, Dylan Willick (6th) deflected a Mike Cornell point shot into the net at 15:00 to put Worcester ahead 3-1. The Railers held a 32-22 shot advantage through 40 minutes of play. Worcester would extend their lead early in the third period with a terrific shot from in tight by Tyler Barnes (21st) on the power play at 1:03. But Maine did not give up as they scored three consecutive goals to force overtime at 7:33 by Josh Couturier (2nd), at 12:17 by Wade Murphy (8th), and the equalizer at 18:00 by Derek Pratt (2nd). Shots were 12-10 in favor of Worcester in the third period as Connor LaCouvee made several big saves to keep the Railers stuck at four goals. In overtime, Brycen Martin (6th) sent a touch angle shot from the left circle on the rush over the shoulder of Mitch Gillam at 2:57 to complete the comeback 5-4 overtime home win for the Mariners. Final shots were 47-33 in favor of Worcester.

2022 vs Adirondack 4-2 win
(RAILERS) The Railers beat the Adirondack Thunder, 4-2, for the second time in less than 48 hours. The victory allowed the Railers to finish a successful homestand with a 4-2-1 record. They could have had another point, probably two, without the late-game goals from Kalamazoo but they bounced back well against a divisional rival. Worcester is 7-2-1 overall in its last 10 games. That’s the best a Railers team has done over a 10-game span since February and March of 2019 when they also had a 7-2-1 run. For the second straight game, Nolan Vesey closed things out with an empty net goal. Don’t confuse those with gifts. A one-goal game, especially versus a division rival, can be a two-point swing in the standings. “He’s out there for a reason,” coach David Cunniff said. “He’s glue. He’s like (Jordan) Smotherman, a core guy for us. He does things the right way. He doesn’t jump out at you. He’s not flashy, but I’ll take efficiency over prettiness any day of the week.” Vesey was 1-1-2 for the second straight game. He really started to put things together a month ago, starting with Worcester’s 4-2 triumph over Maine on Jan. 12. Including that game, another 1-1-2 night, Vesey is 5-11-16 and plus-14 in a span of 15 games. Anthony Repaci, Ross Olsson and Jacob Hayhurst had the other Worcester goals. Robbie Payne and Tyler Irvine scored for Adirondack. The Railers scored first for the fourth straight time. Repaci got the goal at 4:10 of the first period as Worcester converted a power play chance. The Railers did something that they have been a victim of several times this season — turn a great save by the goalie into a goal at the other end. Colten Ellis stopped a shorthanded 2 on 1 bid, his pad save sending the puck the other way. Matt Sredl got it to Repaci and he fired a low wrist shot home from the left circle. Ellis got an assist, his third of the season. That ties him with Evan Buitenhuis for the team record. He had three in 2019-20. The all-time Worcester record is four, done by the IceCats’ Brent Johnson in 1998-99. Payne made it 1-1 at 11:02, scoring on a high wrist shot from the left corner. The score did not change for almost 40 minutes. When it did, the Railers took the lead for good as Olsson was set up nicely in the slot for a power play goal at 10:11 of the third period. It was Olsson’s 14th goal of the season, ninth on the power play, and 28th of his career in Worcester. He is tied for second with Tyler Barnes’ on the team’s all-time goal scoring list, well behind Barry Almeida’s 60. Hayhurst made it 3-1 33 seconds later then Irvine popped in a power play rebound at 14:20 to tighten things up. Vesey’s empty-netter came at 19:37. Ellis stopped 28 of 30 shots and is 6-0-2 in his last eight games. He has allowed exactly two goals in each of his last four starts which figures out to an average of — let’s do the math — 2.00. More importantly, his saves percentage in that span is .938. The Railers are out of town for a while. They head for Utah in the darkness of Wednesday morning, a critical road trip beckoning.The Railers will play six games in a span of nine days. The games commence Friday night in Utah. The Railers will also play in Salt Lake City Saturday and Monday, then head north to Boise for games Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. They have played in Utah twice before, the fourth and fifth games of their inaugural season in 2017-18. Worcester did well in Salt Lake City, earning three of a possible four points via a 5-4 overtime loss and 4-1 victory. The Railers have never played Idaho before. Worcester, like many ECHL teams, has been very competitive on long road trips. The Railers have had two longer than this one, both at this time of the season. They were 3-3-1 in 2018, 3-2-2 in February of 2019. “We’re looking forward to it,” said an upbeat Cunniff. MAKING TRACKS_Smotherman set two Railers records with his two-goal game Saturday night. It was his sixth multi-goal game of the season and career. The previous records were five in both categories, done by Tyler Barnes in 2018-19. … Myles McGurty and Nick Albano were back in the lineup, Will Cullen and Reece Newkirk out. McGurty picked up his third point of the season, an assist on Vesey’s goal … The next ECHL game at the DCU Center is scheduled for March 4, Worcester taking on Reading. … Referee Brett Roeland was busy as the teams combined for 11 power plays. Worcester killed 5 of 6 for one of its best games of the season in that department.


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