The Worcester Railers hosted the Adirondack Thunder Friday night at the DCU Center hoping to ride the momentum of Wednesday night’s thrilling shootout win toward another victory, but the win one, lose one trend continued as the Railers lost 3-2.
It was one of those games that absolutely should have ended up in the win column. While Thunder netminder Mareks Mitens was outstanding and made more than a half-dozen highlight saves Worcester continues to find ways to lose games, oftentimes because they try to make pretty plays instead of taking advantage of the opportunities right in front of them. Opponents have begun to pick up on that and will look to block passing lanes instead of taking on players directly.
Plus having the worst penalty kill in the ECHL isn’t helping matters much either. And it was the poor penalty kill that put Worcester down a goal twice in the contest.
The first was with Ross Olsson in the box for taking a silly tripping call while the Thunder looked to transition to offense, and Samuel Laberge collected his own rebound after a nice save by Railers goaltender Colten Ellis and fired it around the downed netminder with no Railers defender within ten feet of him at 8:17 of the opening period.
Worcester got a bit of luck to tie it when Olsson’s backhand pass deflected off Adirondack forward Tyler Irvine and in for the 100th power-play goal in Railers franchise history.
In the second frame, Worcester would outshoot the Thunder 20-5, but Adirondack capitalized on their chances in the frame and connected on the power play for the second time in the game. Karl Boudrias was the player in the box for Worcester for taking a hooking call when he allowed Blake Thompson to skate around him like Boudrias was a traffic cone, sending Thompson in alone toward the Railers net. Irvine was the eventual goalscorer at 10:37, firing a one-timer from 25-feet past Ellis.
Skating five on three, Liam Coughlin would tie it 2-2 at 17:03.
For some unfathomable reason referee Casey Terreri, who has a history of head-scratching calls in games he’s worked at the DCU Center, decided to review the play for goaltender interference despite the video clearing showing no Railers player even close to touching Mitens.
Robbie Payne would give the Thunder their third lead of the game when his backhander beat Ellis at 1:11 of the third with the Railers seemingly forgetting they were supposed to play defense.
Late in the period head coach Dave Cunniff would pull Ellis for an extra attacker, and for the 90 seconds they used six attackers the Railers generated zero scoring chances, had zero shots on goal, and only were still alive late in the game because all three of Adirondack’s attempts at the empty net were blocked by Worcester defensemen.
The Railers have a rare weekend without games, and they return to action Wednesday at 10am at the DCU Center against Maine in the annual school-day game.
Worcester’s scratches were Ken Appleby and Drew Callin, who were both added to the Commissioner’s Exempt List on Friday. The Commissioner’s Exempt List is for players who have tested positive for COVID, had close contact with someone who tested positive, or has symptoms and is waiting for test results. I’m not certain if there’s been official word on the vaccination status of the Railers team, or if they would even release such a thing, but scuttlebutt says the entire team and staff is indeed vaccinated. Presuming that’s the case, having close contact with someone who tested positive wouldn’t automatically place a player on that list.
With Worcester down a player, Dave Cunniff put on his general manager’s hat and signed Boston native Tommy Besinger to a contract. Besinger played seven games with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits earlier this season before being released in early November. He’s an Endicott College alum, transferring there after a half-season at Army-West Point, and was a former collegiate teammate of Ross Olsson.
Prior to the start of the game, the Railers held a moment of silence in recognition of the six firefighters who perished in the Worcester Cold Storage fire 22 years ago. Lt. Thomas Spencer, Lt. Timothy Jackson Sr., Lt. James Lyons III; and Firefighters Jeremiah Lucey, Paul Brotherton, and Joseph McGuirk all died in the line of duty attempting to rescue two homeless people who were reported to be in the building. The Franklin Street fire station now occupies the lot the Cold Storage building was on, and a a memorial out front recognizes their heroism.
Work is still being done on determining if Ross Olsson was the first Worcester pro to record a hat trick and Gordie Howe hat trick in the same game. It absolutely hasn’t happened since the 2003-04 Worcester IceCats season, and my research on prior seasons has turned up nothing. Bill Ballou is still digging through box scores, but I suspect we’re looking at a first for Worcester hockey.
No work needs to be done to determine that the Railers’ five shootout goals Wednesday was a new city pro record. The previous record was four when the WorSharks lost an eight-round shootout in Manchester on December 5, 2009. Scoring five in six attempts is also a city best, beating numerous instances of Worcester teams going two for three and three for four. The Railers’ previous best for shootout goals was three, in seven rounds, at Adirondack on March 8, 2019. Tommy Kelley, Barry Almeida, and Bo Brauer were the goal scorers, with Evan Buitenhuis saving four of six attempts on top of his 41 saves in the game.
The three stars of the game were
1. ADK – 29 Robbie Payne
2. ADK – 30 Mareks Mitens
3. WOR – 7 Liam Coughlin
The 210Sports Player of the Game was Colten Ellis.
Even Strength Lines
Olsson / Coughlin / Besinger
Repaci / Beaudoin / Smotherman
Vesey / Hayhurst / Jozefek
Spetz / Furgele
Malatesta / McGurty
Boudrias / Cullen
Adirondack 1 1 1 – 3
Worcester 1 1 0 – 2
1st Period-1, Adirondack, Laberge 1 (MacArthur), 8:17 (PP). 2, Worcester, Olsson 6 (Smotherman, Malatesta), 9:35 (PP). Penalties-Irvine Adk (roughing, boarding), 0:17; Hayhurst Wor (roughing), 0:17; served by Smotherman Wor (bench – too many men), 1:13; Olsson Wor (tripping), 6:28; Masonius Adk (interference), 8:38; Hamilton Adk (delay of game), 18:56.
2nd Period-3, Adirondack, Irvine 8 (Laberge, Thompson), 10:37 (PP). 4, Worcester, Coughlin 4 (Hayhurst, Vesey), 17:03 (PP). Penalties-Boudrias Wor (hooking), 9:49; Rivera Adk (tripping), 15:59; Mazza Adk (cross-checking), 16:44; Lijdsman Adk (boarding), 17:43; Hayhurst Wor (slashing), 17:48.
3rd Period-5, Adirondack, Payne 4 (MacArthur, Long), 1:11. Penalties-Carrier Adk (tripping), 6:59; Furgele Wor (holding the stick), 12:33.
Shots on Goal-Adirondack 12-5-6-23. Worcester 10-20-10-40.
Power Play Opportunities-Adirondack 2 / 5; Worcester 2 / 7.
Goalies-Adirondack, Mitens 5-4-1-0 (40 shots-38 saves). Worcester, Ellis 3-3-0-0 (23 shots-20 saves).
Referees-Casey Terreri (14).
Linesmen-Chris Provost (50), Brent Colby (77).