The Worcester Railers returned to action after more than a week off and hosted the Florida Everblades on “Worcester IceCats” night at the DCU Center where too many middle period mental lapses led to three Florida scores and an eventual 4-2 loss.
The Railers were scheduled to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Worcester IceCats at the end of the 2019-20 season that got canceled due to COVID, so the celebration was postponed until Saturday night. After Shawn Heaphy, one of the original IceCats, and Worcester Hockey Hall of Fame member Terry “Mr. IceCats” Virtue dropped the ceremonial first puck fans were ready to see some action, and it was the Railers getting on the board first.
In the second period, the wheels would come off for Worcester. An Anthony Repaci turnover deep in the Everblades zone gave Florida a three on two break, and with trailer Chris McKay being unchecked he was able to blaze a low wrister that beat Worcester netminder Ken Appleby at 9:51 of the middle frame to tie it. The Everblades then took a 2-1 lead when a missed connection between Mike Cornell and Felix Bibeau kept the puck in the Worcester zone. As play continued Appleby made a save on Robert Carpenter’s bid, but Blake Winiecki was there to bang home the rebound at 13:30.
The Railers managed to right the ship, and 81 seconds later John Furgele got his team back to even.
But as the Tweet shows, that wasn’t all the scoring in the frame as Winiecki grabbed his second of the game at 16:32 that was pretty much just like his first goal, where Worcester was unable to clear their zone and in the ensuing play Winiecki was in front to bang home a rebound of a Carpenter bid.
Worcester had several nice chances to tie the game in the third but couldn’t put the puck into the net, and after some inexplicably poor play with an extra attacker Carpenter and John McCarron took advantage of the Railers inability to control the puck in the Florida zone and skated toward the Railers empty net two on none. After several passes back and forth eventually Carpenter put it in for the 4-2 final.
Scratches for the Railers were Collin Adams (IR/upper body), Bret Beaudoin, Karl Boudrias (IR/unknown), JD Dudek, Grant Jozefek (IR/Unknown), Tyler Poulsen. Justin Kapelmaster was the backup goaltender.
In the ten days since the Railers last played there’s been a slew of transactions, with Springfield recalling Nic Pierog and Colten Ellis and signing defenseman Nick Albano to a PTO. On Halloween, all three were back but Ellis’ stay was short as the Blues assigned him back to the Thunderbirds when Blues netminder Ville Husso went on the NHL’s Covid-19 protocol list, causing a chain of goaltender recalls. On November 1st the Islanders assigned goaltender Ken Appleby to Worcester. Appleby is on NHL contract and could have refused assignment to the ECHL, so there’s probably a story to find out there. Wednesday had six players switch spots between the active and injured reserve rosters, and Friday had Springfield recalling Pierog and re-signing Albano to a PTO. Albano made his AHL debut that night but didn’t hit the scoresheet.
Also since Worcester’s last game the saga of the Newfoundland Growlers being locked out of the Mary Brown’s Centre, the new name of the Mile One Center, has had another twist. The Railers games on November 12, 13, and 14 that were originally scheduled for there were moved to the Coca-Cola Coliseum in Toronto, but have now been moved back to The Rock and will now be played at CBA Arena in Conception Bay South, about 12 miles southwest of St John’s. Once again the game times are unchanged, but now the time zones come into play again so they’ll be a 5:30 ET start on Friday and Saturday, and a 2:20 ET start on Sunday.
With this being the first meeting of the season between the Railers and Everblades we’ll take a look at some of the connections between the teams. For Florida, defenseman Ben Masella is an original Railer having played 66 games for the team in 2017-18. He was traded by then-GM Jamie Russell after refusing to sign his qualifying offer. Blueliner Jake McLaughlin played four years at UMass-Amherst, and forward Joe Pendenza played four seasons for UMass-Lowell. For the Railers, defenseman Mike Cornell played parts of four seasons with the Everblades from 2013 to 2016, and goaltender Ken Appleby had a 27-8-5 record in 2019-20 in Florida. Masella did not dress Saturday night.
There was one hiccup in the Railers celebration of the Worcester IceCats. The glaring drawback was a massive error by the jersey vendor, and the word “error” is used kindly as there are plenty of other more apt non-postable words to describe what they did, or in the case, didn’t do. Despite having the jerseys for long over a year the vendor was unprepared for the jerseys to be numbered and lettered despite being told several times since the promotional schedule came out the date of the event, and actually suggested the event be postponed. The Railers were left to scramble for jerseys and turned to OT Sports, who in five business days were able to design and produce the jerseys used in the game. While this writer would love to name the offending jersey company I didn’t run into Railers COO Mike Myers to ask him about it, so for now we’ll refrain from outing the vendor.
The three stars of the game were
1. FLA – 41 Blake Winiecki
2. FLA – 37 Tomas Vomacka
3. WOR – 21 John Furgele
The 210Sports Player of the Game was Ken Appleby.
Even Strength Lines
Olsson / Coughlin / Smotherman
Repaci / Bibeau / Thompson
Christensen / Hayhurst / Vesey
Spetz / Cornell
Malatesta / McGurty
Furgele / McCarthy
Florida 0 3 1 – 4
Worcester 1 1 0 – 2
1st Period-1, Worcester, Christensen 1 (Vesey, Hayhurst), 7:33 (PP). Penalties-Neville Fla (unsportsmanlike conduct), 5:58; Thompson Wor (interference), 11:28; Koper Fla (elbowing), 11:54; Olsson Wor (delay of game), 16:04; Koper Fla (hooking), 19:49.
2nd Period-2, Florida, McKay 1 (Koper, Neville), 9:51. 3, Florida, Winiecki 3 (Carpenter, McLaughlin), 13:10. 4, Worcester, Furgele 1 (McCarthy, Hayhurst), 14:41. 5, Florida, Winiecki 4 (Carpenter, McCarron), 16:32. Penalties-McLaughlin Fla (hooking), 19:34.
3rd Period-6, Florida, Carpenter 2 (McCarron, Pendenza), 19:20 (EN). Penalties-Bibeau Wor (hooking), 15:41.
Shots on Goal-Florida 11-12-10-33. Worcester 14-11-10-35.
Power Play Opportunities-Florida 0 / 3; Worcester 1 / 4.
Goalies-Florida, Vomacka 2-0-0-1 (35 shots-33 saves). Worcester, Appleby 0-1-0-0 (32 shots-29 saves).
Referees-Trevor Wohlford (38).
Linesmen-Sam Schildkraut (46), Matthew Hallock (85).
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