Today in Worcester hockey history: March 18


1998 at Hartford 6-5 win
The Worcester IceCats snapped a seven game losing streak with a 6-5 win over the Wolf Pack. The win also clinched a playoff spot for the ‘Cats. things didn’t start off great when Daniel Goneau scored just 10 seconds into the game. Robert Petrovicky tied the score at 2:21, with Terry Hollinger and Nick Naumenko assisting. Ken Gernander made it 2-1 Hartford at 5:58, but Shayne Toporowski would tie it again at 14:18 n the power play when he deflected Ivan Ciernik’s pass into the net. In the second period Jason Zent gave the ‘Cats the lead with a power play goal at 2:04 assisted by Rory Fitzpatrick. Jamal Mayers made it 4-2 with a shorthanded goal at 4:39. Stephane Roy had the only assist. Gernander then scored at 5:54 on the power play, but Naumenko got the IceCats’ two goal lead back at 13:00, with help from Robert Petrovicky and Toporowski. Derek Armstrong made it a one goal game again at 17:53, but Petrovicky made it 6-4 at 19:14. Mayers and Naumenko earned points on the play. In the third period Chris Winnes scored an extra attacker power play goal at 19:40, but that would be all the scoring. Fred Cassivi made 21 saves for the win.

2000 at Hartford 3-0 loss
(TICKER) Milan Hnilicka registered his third shutout, turning aside 22 shots, to give the surging Hartford Wolf Pack a 3-0 victory over the Worcester Ice Cats. Hnilicka stopped 16 shots over the last two periods to improve to 19-10. Jason Doig netted a power-play goal and assisted on the other two scores for Hartford, which won for the seventh time in its last 10 contests (7-2-1). Jason Dawe added an empty-net goal with 42 seconds remaining for the Wolf Pack. Brent Johnson took his 20th loss despite gloving 30 shots for Worcester, which fell to 2-6-2 in March.

2001 vs Lowell 4-3 win OT
The Worcester IceCats got a hat trick in regulation by Jame Pollock but still needed an overtime goal to defeat the Lock Monsters 4-3. Pollock had the only goal of the first period, scoring at 9:02 assisted by Pascal Rheaume and Dan Corso. In the middle period Stu Bodtker tied it for Lowell at 12:38. Pollock had the first two goals of the third period to give the ‘Cats the lead. The first came at 5:14 assisted by Ed Campbell, and his second came just nine seconds later with Vladimir Chebaturkin and Eric Boguniecki helping. The two tallies are still a Worcester pro hockey record for quickest two goals by a single player. Bodtker scored again at 6:42 to make it a one goal game, and then Jeff Daw got the Lock Monsters even at 9:18. To overtime the teams went, where Worcester had all five shots in the extra session, the fifth by Marc Brown lighting the lamp at 3:45. Dale Clarke and Boguniecki had the assists on the play. Dwayne Roloson had 29 saves for the win, while Travis Scott had 39 in the losing effort for Lowell.

2005 at Philadelphia 4-2 loss
(PHANTOMS) Ben Stafford, John Slaney and Boyd Kane all scored third-period goals to lift the Philadelphia Phantoms to a 4-2 victory over the Worcester IceCats tonight at the Wachovia Spectrum. Jon Sim added a power-play goal in the second period for Philadelphia, which has captured four of its last five games. Antero Niittymaki won his fourth straight start by stopping 23-of-25 shots. Curtis Sanford finished with 14 saves on 18 shots for the IceCats, who have dropped three games in a row. Following a scoreless opening period in which the teams combined for just seven shots, Worcester went on a five-minute power play early in the second when Slaney received a high-sticking major. But the Phantoms limited the IceCats to only two shots during the power play while coming up with two quality shorthanded scoring opportunities. Later in the period, Worcester’s Colin Hemingway was sent off for obstruction-hooking and the Phantoms capitalized to take a 1-0 lead. Joni Pitkanen began the play by stretching to keep the puck in the IceCats zone and shuttled it to Randy Jones at the point. The defenseman let fly a wrister and Sim deflected it past Sanford at the 9:18 mark for his 28th goal of the year and 26th as a Phantom. Sim also continued his recent scoring spree, as he now has 17 points (12G, 5A) in his last 11 games. Jon DiSalvatore evened the score at 1-1 at 7:02 of the third stanza when he tapped in a centering pass by Jeff Hoggan, but Stafford answered 32 seconds later to put the Phantoms ahead for good. Josh Gratton and Wade Skolney set up Stafford’s 12th goal, a slap shot from the far circle during a 2-on-1 rush. Slaney padded the lead to 3-1 at 11:06 when his wrister made its way through traffic and into the far corner. Patrick Sharp received the lone assist on Slaney’s ninth goal. Kane widened the gap to three goals with his seventh of the year at 15:15 before Brendan Brooks capped the scoring with 3:41 to play.

2007 vs Portland 3-2 win
The Worcester Sharks found themselves down two goals after twenty minutes, but then scored the next three to win a 3-2 contest over the Pirates. Portland’s first period goals were by Ryan Carter (2:24) and Brian Salcido (9:16). Tom Cavanagh had the only goal of the middle frame, at 10:19 and assisted by Tom Walsh and Mathieu Darche, to make the score 2-1. Darche tied it for the WorSharks at 3:29 of the third with Lukas Kaspar and Graham Mink helping. Cavanagh got the go-ahead goal at 11:57 on the power play, with Garrett Stafford and Kaspar providing the assists. Thomas Greiss had 22 saves for the win.

2011 at Providence 4-1 loss
(WORSHARKS) Carter Hutton and Harri Sateri combined for 52 saves as the Sharks kicked off a four game road trip with a 4-1 loss to the Bruins on Friday evening at the Dunkin Donuts Center. With the loss, Worcester now trails the Whale for the 3rd and final guaranteed playoff spot in the Atlantic Division by two points in the race for the playoffs with 12 games remaining. John McCarthy extended his point streak to four games (3-2-5) with the only Sharks goal in the loss. Binghamton remains one point ahead of Worcester for the 4th spot in the division. Both teams got off to a rather sluggish start to open up the first period which led to several stoppages of play. The Bruins got on the board first after Jordan LaVallee- Smotherman (12th) jammed home a centering feed past Carter Hutton after a goal mouth scramble at 6:57. Worcester’s best chance came with 8 minutes remaining with the Sharks shorthanded as John McCarthy’s wrap-around attempt was denied by Anton Khudobin. Providence outshot Worcester 18-8 in the first period and led 1-0. The Bruins scored twice more in the middle frame to charge out to a 3-0 lead. Stefan Chaput (5th) scored on a breakaway snapping the puck through the pads of Hutton at 12:43. David Ling (7th) sent a blast top shelf from on top of the left circle on a 3-on-2 rush at 18:18 to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead through 40 minutes. Finnish goaltender and San Jose draft pick Harri Sateri replaced Carter Hutton at the start of the third period to make his North American debut and made 23 saves on 24 shots and denied Trent Whitfield on a penalty shot at 6:41 to keep the score close. Trent Whitfield (12th) extended his point streak to nine games with a power play goal at 3:44 to put the Bruins up 3-0. John McCarthy (3rd) extended his point streak to four games with a rebound goal at 7:19 for the only Sharks score. Worcester was outshot 23-7 in the final period in the 4-1 loss to the Bruins. The Sharks record falls to 31-25-4-8 with 74 points and to 13-15-2-4 on the road. Worcester has 12 games remaining on their 80 game AHL regular season schedule (6 home, 6 away)

2012 vs Bridgeport 5-2 win
(WORSHARKS) The Sharks scored four goals in the second period on 19 shots to lead the way to a 5-2 victory over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in front of a crowd of 5,023 at the DCU Center on Sunday during IceCats Night. Brandon Mashinter, James Livingston, Tony Lucia, and Sebastian Stalberg scored goals in the middle frame for the Sharks while Tim Kennedy added an empty netter late in the third period to seal the victory for Worcester. Harri Sateri made 33 saves in net for Worcester in a game that saw four sets of fighting majors and 86 combined penalty minutes. A wild first period saw four separate fights, two game misconducts, 70 penalty minutes, and a single goal by the Sound Tigers Matt Donovan for a 1-0 Bridgeport lead. Matt Donovan (8th) gave the Sound Tigers an early lead at 2:53 with a wicked shot from the left circle past Harri Sateri before the game took a nasty tone. Frazer McLaren (4th FM) fought Trevor Gillies (9th FM) at 7:32 to start the fireworks followed by a nasty fight between Sharks captain Mike Moore (5th FM) and Michael Haley (12th FM) at 7:32. Moore (6th FM) and Haley (13th FM) fought again at 14:42 and each received game misconducts after a heated battle. Brodie Reid (1st FM) fought former NU teammate Tyler McNeely (5th FM) for his first professional fight with a long battle off the faceoff at 16:23. After the dust settled, the Sharks trailed 1-0 through 20 minutes despite outshooting the Sound Tigers 17-10. The Sharks exploded for four second period goals and saw two separate goaltender changes by the Sound Tigers in a middle frame that was completely dominated by Worcester. Brandon Mashinter (16th) tied the score at 1-1 blasting a shot through Kevin Poulin at 4:41 from the left circle to get the Sharks on the board. Just 28 seconds later, James Livingston (6th) broke down the right wing side and sent a tough angle shot past Poulin at 5:09 to give the Sharks a 2-1 advantage. Anders Nilsson replaced Kevin Poulin as the Sharks kept pouring on the scoring chances. Tony Lucia (7th) backhanded a rebound past Nilsson at 16:03 to put the Sharks ahead 3-1. Anders Nilsson appeared to get injured on the play and was replaced by Poulin after a short delay to signal Poulin from the dressing room. Sebastian Stalberg (1st), playing in his first professional game, gave Worcester a 4-1 advantage with a terrific shot from on top of the circles and past the blocker of Poulin at 17:56. The Sharks outshot Bridgeport 18-6 in the middle frame and took a three goal lead into the 2nd intermission. The Sound Tigers led the charge in the third period, firing 19 shots on Harri Sateri but only striking for a single goal on a shorthanded bid by Sean Backman (6th) at 10:57. Tim Kennedy (10th) sealed the deal with an empty net tally at 19:21 to crunch the Sound Tigers hopes as the Sharks pulled away for the 5-2 victory. Worcester’s record improves to 28-24-4-7, with 67pts and currently in 8th place in the Eastern Conference with 13 games remaining.

2015 vs Hershey 3-2 loss
(WORSHARKS) The Worcester Sharks (32-23-4-2, 70pts) battled back but fell short 3-2 to the Hershey Bears (38-18-5-2, 83pts) in front of 2,005 fans at the DCU Center on Wednesday evening. Worcester had six power play chances in the game, but they could not capitalize on those opportunities. Sharks’ captain Bryan Lerg (2-0-2, +1) had two goals on the night in the Worcester loss. Three Hershey players scored, including Tim Kennedy (1-0-1, E), Cameron Schilling (1-1-2, +1), and Jim O’Brien (1-0-1, +1) as goalie Philipp Grubauer led the way for the Bears, making 44 saves on 46 shots from the Sharks, picking up his 24th win of the season. With the loss, Worcester remains in 9th place in the Eastern Conference- standings- three points behind the eighth-place Springfield Falcons with two games in hand and with 15 games left on the season. Hershey kicked off the scoring at 6:31 of the first period when Bears’ center and former Shark Tim Kennedy (8th) ripped the puck past Worcester’s goaltender Troy Grosenick, scoring down front on a breakaway to give the Bears a 1-0 lead. That would be the lone goal of the period. Despite outshooting Hershey 12-4 in the first frame, Worcester couldn’t manage a goal, trailing 1-0 through twenty minutes. Three penalties were called on Hershey as Worcester could not capitalize on multiple power play opportunities in the second period. Despite 19 more shots on goal and a 5-on-3 advantage late in the period, the Sharks remained goal-less. Troy Grosenick made 8 saves on 8 shots in the frame as Worcester trailed 1-0 going into the second intermission. 17 seconds into the final period, Sharks’ captain Bryan Lerg (9th) fired a backhander in front of the goalie crease, finding the back of the net after a feed from behind the net by center Evan Trupp, tying the game at 1 a side. Worcester had a 5-on-3 advantage again in the third frame but could not capitalize. At the 9:22 mark, Hershey defenseman Cameron Schilling (3rd) lit up the lamp after shooting his own rebound from the slot to reinstate the Bears one-goal lead. With 66 seconds left in the game, Hershey center Jim O’ Brien (4th) scored on an empty netter from the right circle to make it 3-1 Bears. The Sharks would get one back when Bryan Lerg (10th) scored his second goal of the night, flinging a backhander from the bottom of the right circle to cut the Hershey lead to one. It would be too little, too late for Worcester, as they outshot the Bears 15 to 11 in the third period but fell 3-2 to Hershey. The Sharks overall record falls to 32-23-4-2, 70pts, and 18-10-2-1, 39pts at the DCU Center this season.

2018 vs Utah 4-2 win
(RAILERS) Jeff Kubiak broke a 2-2 midway through the third period as the Worcester Railers HC (30-25-4-3, 67pts) defeated the visiting Utah Grizzlies (25-25-8-6, 64pts) by the score of 4-2 in front of 3,854 fans at the DCU Center on Sunday afternoon. Ryan MacKinnon, Ben Masella, Jeff Kubiak, and Woody Hudson all found the back of the net for Worcester while Mitch Gillam made 19 saves as the Railers are now three points behind the Nailers for the final playoff spot in the North Division – the Railers have two games in hand with 10 games left. Jake Randolph picked up an assist in his first professional game and Yanick Turcotte picked up his 19th fighting major for the Railers in their fourth straight home win. Yanick Turcotte (19th FM) and Travis Howe (13th FM) had an entertaining fight at center ice to set the tone early in the first period as each team found the back of the net once. Utah went ahead 1-0 at 4:17 as Ryan Misiak (15th) sniped a shot top shelf from 30 feet top past Mitch Gillam to put the Railers down early. Worcester would tie the score at 18:19 as Jake Randolph picked up his first pro point as he found Ryan MacKinnon (2nd) streaking down the middle of the ice and MacKinnon ripped a shot off the post and past goaltender Joel Rumpel. The Railers held a 11-5 shot advantage after 20 minutes of play as the two teams headed to the first intermission tied 1-1. The Grizzlies went ahead 2-1 at 11:32 of the second period as Jake Marchment (15th) finished off a nice 2-on-1 rush with a backhander past Mitch Gillam. Ben Masella (3rd) tied the score at 2-2 just 80 seconds later with a laser from the center point through a screen and into the net at 12:52 with Matt Lane and Mike Cornell picking up the assists. Each team had eight shots in the second period with the score tied 2-2 through 40 minutes. A scary moment happened 2:16 into the third period as Tommy Kelley collided with James Melindy behind the Utah net and crashed into the end wall. Tommy laid motionless on the ice for several minutes before he left on a stretcher and taken to the hospital. After 15 minutes, play continued in front of a rather quiet DCU Center crowd. Jeff Kubiak (14th) broke a 2-2 tie after he stole the puck at the offensive blue line and broke in alone on Joel Rumpel before ripping the puck top shelf at 9:12 to give the Railers a 3-2 lead. Woody Hudson (19th) added insurance at 16:48 with the Railers 11 shorthanded goal of the season at 16:48 as Worcester held on for the six point weekend and a 4-2 home win.

2022 vs South Carolina 3-0 win
(RAILERS) It was two streaks down and one streak up for the Railers Friday night as they blanked the South Carolina Stingrays, 3-0, with Colten Ellis recording his first professional shutout. As the streaks went, that was the biggest. The whitewash was the first for a Railers goaltender since Evan Buitenhuis won at Brampton, 2-0, on Dec. 4, 2019. It was the first for a Worcester goaltender on home ice since Mitch Gillam shut out Adirondack, also 2-0, on March 18, 2018. The streaks were 94 games between shutouts overall, 96 at the DCU Center. Ellis made 23 saves. Just eight came in the first 40 minutes, then the Stingrays got desperate in the last 20 and fired 15 pucks on net. Offensively, Worcester got another big night from Blake Christensen. He had a goal and two assists, setting up Reece Newkirk and Jacob Hayhurst for their goals. Sometimes, goalies can be lulled to sleep by inactivity, which is good if that means their team is scoring bunches of goals. Worcester had only two, though, until Christensen hit an empty net in the last minute. That was because South Carolina goaltender Hunter Shepard was spectacularly good. Ellis was ready for the third period onslaught. “I’ve been used to that,” he said of the uneventful first two periods. “I’ve been on some really good teams like this one before. The boys did a great job limiting their shots, limiting their chances in the first two periods, and in the third blocking shots and just doing all the right things to let me get (the shutout).” The streak the Railers extended was the most important one. Worcester has won four in a row to maintain its spot as the third-place team in the North Division. The Railers are 15-5-4 in their last 24 games to climb from sixth place to third. The victory also snapped Worcester’s streak of never having beaten South Carolina. The Railers had been 0-4-1 all-time versus the Stingrays and 0-3-0 at the DCU Center. Christensen has goals and points in three straight games at 4-3-7 and is 6-3-9 in his last five. He has developed a remarkable knack for scoring at critical times, like Friday night’s empty-netter. Christensen has 16 goals for the season, 10 in the third period. It took the Railers just 6:25 to create a 1-0 lead as Newkirk notched his eighth of the season with a sizzling wrist shot from between the circles. Christensen set him up with a precise pass from the left boards. Hayhurst, who had multiple great chances throughout the period, made it 2-0 at 12:06. Christensen was the setup man once again with Myles McGurty adding an assist. Hayhurst converted a pass from behind the net for his 13th. The shots were 19-5 for the period and if not for Shepard Worcester might have had a 5-0 lead. The Railers controlled play in the second period as well but their chances were not as good as in the first and the Stingrays went into the final period with a chance to win a game they probably had no business winning. “Their record isn’t very good,” coach Dave Cunniff said of the opposition, “but they’re in every game. I knew going into it that we were going to have to work for it. I’m not surprised it was a two-goal game.” Throughout the year, Cunniff has had high praise for his goaltending and Friday night was more of the same. “For a young guy, it’s really impressive to see him keep his focus,” he said. “He didn’t get a lot of chances in the first two periods, and then in the third we gave up some opportunities. For him to still be dialed in doesn’t surprise me because he’s a great goalie.” Worcester returns to divisional play Saturday and Sunday with games here against the powerful Newfoundland Growlers, always one of the best teams in the ECHL. This season is no different and the Growlers head into the games winners of four in a row and 8-2-0 in their last 10. They have dominated the Railers through the years, going 14-5-2 versus Worcester including 7-3-0 at the DCU Center. This looks like a different Railers team from previous seasons, though. The next two games might show just how different. MAKING TRACKS_ Mitchell Balmas went up to Springfield while Felix Bibeau who was assigned here. Bibeau’s return meant that there were six Railers in the starting lineup Friday night who played for Worcester on opening night in Maine on Oct. 22. The other five were Nolan Vesey, Connor McCarthy, Jordan Smotherman, McGurty and Anthony Repaci. Bibeau was hurt on what looked like a freak play in the last minute and had to be helped off the ice. … McGurty was plus-3 and is plus-13 in his last 15 games.

2023 vs Maine 6-4 loss
(RAILERS) The Railers were beaten by the Maine Mariners Saturday night, 6-4, and while it was disappointing loss the night was not a total loss as the Adirondack Thunder dropped a shootout game in Newfoundland. That cut Worcester’s magic number for clinching a playoff berth by one but the way things started at the DCU Center, it could have been more.
The Railers came roaring out of the gate in the first period and took a 3-1 lead into the second. Then the Mariners took over, scoring four unanswered goals. The basics were this: Jacob Hayhurst, Andrei Bakanov and Liam Coughlin had first period goals for Worcester while Austin Albrecht scored for the Mariners. Worcester’s 17-10 edge in shots on goal reflected the tenor of the period. Alex Kile, Chase Zieky and Carter Johnson scored for Maine in the second as the Mariners took a 4-3 lead into the final 20 minutes. Tyler Hinam made it 5-3 at 8:11 but the Railers got some life on Coughlin’s second goal of the night at 16:36. Alas, Coughlin was called for elbowing Connor Doherty at 17:09 and Nick Master converted the power play chance for Maine. After that 17-10 edge in shots in the first period, Worcester was outshot by 31-17 the rest of the way. “We didn’t manage the puck,” coach Jordan Smotherman said. “We just decided we weren’t going to play the game….We did all the things we talked about not wanting to do before the game. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy.” Coughlin has scored five goals in these two games versus Maine but his elbowing penalty on Connor Doherty was untimely at the very least. “I only saw it on the replay on the board,” Smotherman said. “A guy who’s known for embellishing a little bit takes a rub in the face and the penalties are like 9 to 2 in the game. There should be a little clock management involved.” The Railers, the league’s least penalized time, have spent a lot of time in the penalty box the last two nights as the Mariners have had 11 power plays. Zieky, who has been very hot against Worcester in recent games, was 1-2-3 for Maine. Nolan Vesey and Bobby Butler both had two assists for the Railers while Ken Appleby made 35 saves, Michael DiPietro 30 for the Mariners. The teams play again Sunday afternoon in Maine and Worcester needs to play the way it did up there Friday night.
“Three in threes can go either way,” Smotherman said, “but if we go out and play the way we’re supposed to play we should, we can give ourselves a chance to win, but we can’t lay an egg like we did tonight.” About the magic number to clinch a playoff spot. The Railers have 65 points and 11 games left. The Thunder has 58 and 12 games left. Adirondack can finish with 82 points at the most. The Railers have 65, so need 18 more to clinch. That can come in the way of points they achieve, or points the Thunder don’t get. The first tiebreaker is most wins and Worcester has seven more than Adirondack at this point. Since the teams play either other eight times in the season’s last 10 games, if the Thunder picks up seven wins most of them will be at the Railers’ expense. That would not bode well for Worcester’s post-season hopes. MAKING TRACKS – Coughlin is just the second Railers player to have five goals in back to back games. Shane Walsh did it in December of 2019. … Smotherman went with the same lineup as Friday night. Again, it did not include Anthony Repaci who has gone home for a death in the family. … The Railers wore Boston basketball themed jerseys which seemed to please the crowd, which was a good one at 5,121. That was tied for the seventh best of the season along with the same number on Feb. 11. … Anthony Callin picked up his first pro point via an assist on Coughlin’s first goal. … Bakanov’s goal was his first since Feb. 17 and his first ever at the DCU Center. … The victory gave Maine the VIP Tires & Service Rivalry Cup. … The Mariners are 19-9-2 on the road this season.


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