The Worcester Railers took on the Newfoundland Growlers Saturday night at the Conception Bay South Arena in the middle game of a three-game set, and the Railers broke one franchise record and tied another in a wild third period that saw them score three unanswered goals to defeat the Growlers 5-2.
Things started off a lot like Friday night’s contest as the struggling Railers offense peppered a Growlers goaltender, only this time it was rookie Keith Petruzzelli instead of Evan Cormier, but they couldn’t get any past the Wilbraham, Mass native and found themselves down a goal after twenty minutes when Matteo Pietroniro collected a loose puck off a Colin Adams blocked shot and skated around Worcester netminder Ken Appleby and tucked the puck home at 7:46.
For the second game in a row, Worcester played a decent second period, avoiding the costly turnovers that have plagued them in the frame recently. It was only fitting that the Railers would tie it after a Newfoundland turnover in their zone.
Special teams have been an issue for many seasons for Worcester, and their anemic power play wasn’t going to get any help with the Growlers having the best penalty kill in the ECHL, but sometimes all it takes is a little luck and a nice pass to make things work.
It appeared to everyone in the building and those watching the live video stream that Nathan Noel tied the game 2-2 for the Growlers with 57.6 seconds left in the middle stanza when he tipped one past Appleby, but referee Morgan MacPhee waved the goal off. After a length discussion play continued, with the PA announcer appearing to say referee MacPhee blew the play dead because he lost sight of the puck. An oddity considering the puck was clearly visible in the net behind Appleby.
So just like Friday night, Worcester took a one-goal lead into the third period, and in almost a carbon copy of Friday, Newfoundland would get the equalizer early in the frame. This time it was just after a power play instead of with the man advantage, but Trent Bourque’s tally meant the same thing: a 2-2 game.
One of the things that didn’t happen Friday was Ross Olsson playing as the forward was a healthy scratch. He had a pretty good game Saturday, and it was his first goal of the season that gave Worcester the lead.
Less than a minute later and with Newfoundland still reeling, Drew Callin gave his team a little breathing room.
With the Growlers staggered it was Liam Coughlin who threw the knockout punch, tying the Railers record for two fastest goals at 15 seconds and setting a new mark for the three quickest goals at 3:02.
The two teams will meet again on Sunday at 2:30pn ET in the series finale.
Scratches for the Railers were Brent Beaudoin (IR/unknown), Karl Boudrias, JD Dudek, Tyler Poulsen, Jordan Smotherman, and Nolan Vessey. Matt Jenkins was the backup goaltender.
Last weekend this writer was approached by someone asking about “The Great Pants Controversy, part two”–their words, not mine–pointing out that goaltender Ken Appleby is wearing hockey pants that don’t match the rest of the Railers. We all remember part one, where Mitch Gillam was forced to wear his old red Cornell University pants while the NHL inspected his new Railers pants to determine if they conformed to the rules. They did, of course, but the inspector took their sweet time and Gillam didn’t get to wear his new ones until January 5th. It’s nothing so nefarious this time. Appleby is wearing the pants of the New York Islanders. It’s the same when Colten Ellis is in Worcester, he wears his St Louis Blues pants here. While the ECHL has a rule that says all players must be dressed uniformly, it is generally not enforced when it comes to goalkeeper’s pants as long as they have been approved for play by the NHL.
As this writer teased on Twitter, Saturday night’s Railers victory was something that had never happened before in Worcester pro hockey history: the team won on November 13th. Going into this season there were four dates in which a Worcester pro team had never won a game, and the first one on the schedule was last night. Previously Worcester pro teams were 0-9-1, with one overtime loss and a tie, on November 13th. The next winless date will end up passing without a Worcester pro victory as the Railers do not play on November 18th, where Worcester pros have gone 0-6-1 (2 OTL, 1 tie). The remaining two are late in the season, and both have games scheduled on them. So, more on this later.
The three stars of the game were
1. WOR – 72 Drew Callin
2. WOR – 23 Ross Olsson
3. NFL – 7 Matteo Pietroniro
The 210Sports Player of the Game was Liam Coughlin.
Even Strength Lines
(Head coach Dave Cunniff mixed his lines early, so this is what the first run-through was)
Repaci / Hayhurst / Jozefek
Christensen / Bibeau / Thompson
Callin / Adams / Coughlin
Spetz / Cornell
Malatesta / McCarthy
McGurty / Furgele
Worcester 0 2 3 – 5
Newfoundland 1 0 1 – 2
1st Period-1, Newfoundland, Pietroniro 2 (Kapcheck, Centazzo), 7:46. Penalties-Power Nfl (hooking), 8:26; Melindy Nfl (interference), 12:19; McGurty Wor (interference), 17:41.
2nd Period-2, Worcester, Christensen 2 (Coughlin, Callin), 8:26. 3, Worcester, Hayhurst 3 (Olsson, Jozefek), 11:01 (PP). Penalties-McCourt Nfl (holding), 9:50; Olsson Wor (slashing), 19:54.
3rd Period-4, Newfoundland, Bourque 1 (Melindy), 2:38. 5, Worcester, Olsson 1 (Callin), 9:42. 6, Worcester, Callin 1 12:29. 7, Worcester, Coughlin 1 (Bibeau), 12:44. Penalties-Thompson Wor (tripping), 4:31; Olsson Wor (roughing), 5:30; Noel Nfl (roughing, misconduct), 5:30; Melindy Nfl (cross-checking), 7:01; Thompson Wor (tripping), 10:46; Pietroniro Nfl (misconduct – continuing altercation), 12:10; Melindy Nfl (cross-checking, misconduct – inciting), 16:50.
Shots on Goal-Worcester 14-14-12-40. Newfoundland 8-13-11-32.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 1 / 6; Newfoundland 0 / 4.
Goalies-Worcester, Appleby 1-2-0-1 (32 shots-30 saves). Newfoundland, Petruzzelli 4-1-0-0 (40 shots-35 saves).
Referees-Morgan MacPhee (15).
Linesmen-Darryl Butt (70), Jim Vail (75).
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