The Worcester Railers went 591 days between shots on goal so they had plenty saved up to take in Friday’s season opener against the Maine Mariners at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, Maine, but despite taking a franchise record 54 of them they could only put three behind Mariners goaltender Jeremy Brodeur in a 6-3 loss.
The Railers sent a first-period record 26 shots on Brodeur but it was Maine that lead 2-1 after twenty minutes. The Mariners opened the scoring at 13:50 of the frame when Eduards Tralmaks notched his first of three on the night by popping a rebound home past Railers netminder Justin Kapelmaster, who did not appear to have his skate up against the near post allowing for the opening the puck went through.
Worcester was able to get the equalizer on a four on three power play.
It seemed the teams would head to the first intermission tied, but the Railers broke one of hockey’s Cardinal Sins by allowing a goal in the final minute of the frame when Pascal Laberge banged home a rebound after a Worcester turnover deep in their own zone. Maine would follow that up with the only goal of the middle period, by Lewis Zerter-Gossage, to take a 3-1 lead after forty minutes.
During the second intermission Worcester broadcaster Cam McGuire interviewed Railers beat reporter Bill Ballou and asked the writer what Worcester, who was already outshooting the Mariners 38-21, needed to do to get back into the contest. Ballou always cuts to the chase and answered with the obvious “score more often”.
Jacob Haynurst must have been listing in the dressing room, because just 51 seconds into the third period he got Worcester within one
From there it didn’t take long for the Railers to tie it 3-3, 25 seconds to be exact, with Mike Cornell connecting from in close off a pass from Anthony Repaci just as the video stream from Maine collapsed and died.
That turned out to be an omen as the Railers did the exact same thing, allowing three goals over the rest of the period, two by Tralmaks to complete the hat trick, as Worcester came back home with a loss in their pocket.
The two teams square off again in Worcester’s home opener Saturday, with puck drop scheduled for 7:35.
Scratches for the Railers were Brent Beaudoin, Karl Boudrias, Liam Coughlin (14-day IR/unknown), JD Dudek, Ross Olsson (14-day IR/unknown), Tyler Poulsen, and Charlie Spetz (14-day IR/unknown). Colten Ellis was the backup goaltender. Despite having healthy defensemen available to scratch Railers head coach Dave Cunniff chose to go with 11 forwards and five defensemen.
Even though the ECHL season-opening roster was released just a couple days ago Worcester already has managed to rack up four transactions, with the Springfield Thunderbirds making use of the short distance between the clubs in recalling Nic Pierog and Blake Christensen from the Railers and assigning Mathias Laferriere and Keean Washkurak to Worcester. Judging by who’s available to be sent to the ECHL on both Bridgeport’s and Springfield’s rosters we may be seeing a lot more transactions coming from the Thunderbirds than the Islanders.
Coming into this season the Railers had used 112 players that had combined for a total of three NHL games played, all of them belonging to Ben Thomson. In last night’s line-up they had two players that accounted for 28 NHL games played, with captain Jordan Smotherman playing four games with the Atlanta Thrashers over a couple of seasons and Paul Thompson’s 24 NHL games played with the New Jersey Devils and Florida Panthers. Of the three only Smotherman has scored a goal as he beat Florida’s Craig Anderson in the second period on April 1, 2008
One thing coach Cunniff is going to have to work on, and quickly, is getting rid of the silly penalties the Railers took Friday night. Now maybe it was just the nerves of the rookie-laden lineup, but three different power plays were erased by penalties from young players with none of them being the “we had to” type penalty. Unlike past seasons where the previous coach essentially ignored them Cunniff has come out and said they work on special teams every single practice, so he’ll have plenty of time to correct any potential issue after this weekend.
It’s good to know that both Cunniff and this writer were seeing the same things. Late in the second period I tweeted the Railers weren’t screening Mariners goaltender Jeremy Brodeur enough, and like his Hall of Fame father Martin, if he can see it he’s going to stop it. Cunny mentioned that same thing in his postgame comments to Bill Ballou. “I think we let their goalie see the pucks,” Cunniff said. “They have good goaltending and we allowed him to see the first shot so he was able to control all the rebounds. We went to the net consistently and got second and third chances but the percentages just weren’t there for us, unfortunately, so we didn’t get the breaks.” Oddly, Ballou’s postgame story appears on the Railers team site and not the Telegram, where they have the ubiquitous “staff report” instead.
The three stars of the game were
1. MNE – 3 Eduards Tralmaks
2. MNE – 35 Jeremy Brodeur
3. MNE – 41 Justin Brazeau
The 210Sports Player of the Game was Anthony Repaci.
Even Strength Lines
Smotherman / Bibeau / Thompson
Vesey / Hayhurst / Jozefek
Repaci / Adamas / Callin
Washkurak / x / LaFerriere
Malatesta / Cornell
Albano / McCarthy
Worcester 1 0 2 – 3
Maine 2 1 3 – 6
1st Period-1, Maine, Tralmaks 1 (Askew, Master), 13:50. 2, Worcester, Albano 1 (Repaci, Adams), 16:18 (PP). 3, Maine, Laberge 1 (Brazeau), 19:18. Penalties-St-Louis Mne (cross-checking), 14:39; Bibeau Wor (slashing), 14:59; Robbins Mne (tripping), 15:36.
2nd Period-4, Maine, Zerter-Gossage 1 (Master, Martin), 14:49 (PP). Penalties-Master Mne (tripping), 6:06; Repaci Wor (interference), 7:19; served by Laberge Mne (bench – too many men), 10:58; Smotherman Wor (interference), 14:41; Thompson Wor (unsportsmanlike conduct), 20:00; Doherty Mne (roughing), 20:00.
3rd Period-5, Worcester, Hayhurst 1 (McCarthy), 0:51. 6, Worcester, Cornell 1 (Repaci), 1:16. 7, Maine, Tralmaks 2 (Zerter-Gossage), 7:34. 8, Maine, Tralmaks 3 (Brazeau, Kim), 12:35 (PP). 9, Maine, Santos 1 (Robbins), 17:50. Penalties-Malatesta Wor (roughing), 11:14; Askew Mne (roughing), 11:14; Jozefek Wor (holding), 11:20; Kim Mne (delay of game), 14:19; Tralmaks Mne (elbowing), 18:59.
Shots on Goal-Worcester 26-12-16-54. Maine 11-10-13-34.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 1 / 6; Maine 2 / 3.
Goalies-Worcester, Kapelmaster 0-1-0-0 (34 shots-28 saves). Maine, Brodeur 1-0-0-0 (54 shots-51 saves).
Referees-Alex Normandin (26).
Linesmen-Shane Kanaly (74), Evan Reddick (67).
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