The Worcester Railers took their rag-tag lineup to Reading, Pennsylvania New Year’s Eve afternoon for a match-up against the Royals at Santander Arena, and could only manage a franchise low 14 shots during the road contest in a 2-0 loss.
Rookie Brody Claeys was making his first ECHL start in goal for Worcester, and he was nothing short of spectacular. The rookie showed no nerves at all, getting into a groove quickly and making many solid saves early on. It was in the game’s final 40 minutes where Claeys shined, at one point making a handful of big saves in quick succession, and followed that with two amazing saves less than a minute apart.
Reading managed to score twice in the third period, the first by old friend Patrick McNally on the power play at 3:49. The Railers entered the contest with the worst penalty kill in the ECHL and that won’t improve after Friday’s contest. Thomas Ebbing made it 2-0 at 6:09 when Worcester couldn’t clear the puck out of their zone and Charlie Spetz got picked off by the net as Ebbing wheeled around and knocked the puck in.
With the offense sputtering, and using that word might actually be giving the Railers more credit than they deserve, head coach Dave Cunniff wasn’t able to get Claeys off for an extra attacker until there was under a minute in the game. Not that it mattered, Worcester was unable to register a shot with the extra attacker anyway.
Scratches for the Railers were Scratches for the Railers were Brennan Feasey (Commissioner’s Exempt List), Jacob Hayhurst (Commissioner’s Exempt List), Grant Jozefek (upper body), Myles McGurty (Commissioner’s Exempt List), Reece Newkirk (Commissioner’s Exempt List), and Nolan Vesey (Commissioner’s Exempt List). Jason Pawloski was the backup netminder.
The transactions list for Worcester continues to grow, and there were plenty on Saturday and pregame Sunday. On Saturday, Drew Callin and Blake Christensen were recalled by Springfield, and Zach Malatesta was sent to the Indy Fuel to complete the trade that gave the Railers the player rights to Nic Pierog. The timing of that could be better, considering that Pierog left for Europe after playing just five games for Worcester this season. As expected, the Hart brothers were released after Wednesday’s game.
Sunday morning the Railers signed several players, including a familiar name. General manager Dave Cunniff re-signed fan favorite signed Matt Gaudreau, who is currently an assistant coach USPHL Premier’s Philadelphia Hockey Club. Also signed were forwards Justin Selman, Beau Starrett, and Connor Leen, and defensemen Garrett Gallagher and R.J. Burns.
A little more on the (-5) put up by Jacob Hayhurst and Drew Callin Wednesday afternoon. It was known that they tied the Worcester pro record for worst in a single game with Steve Staios, Nick Petrecki, and Rob Powers, but it took a bit of digging through notes to find the fourth player they tied. After looking through a few notebooks it turns out the mystery player is Chad Dameworth. Just to complete the record, Peter Smrek holds the city record for best single-game rating, going plus-6 against Hartford at the then-named Centrum Centre on October 26, 2000.
With four postponements between the two clubs, the New Year’s Eve game ended up being their first match-up on the ice. That being the case we’ll take a look at some roster connections between the Railers and Royals. Worcester wouldn’t have had any, but they signed Gaudreau, who played for Reading in the 2019-20 season. The Royals have two former Railers on their squad. Defenseman Patrick McNally played 29 for the Railers (12-12-24) in 2017-18, and Frankie DiChiara played the entire 2017-18 season with Worcester (9-14-23). Garret Cockerill is another Massachusetts connection, playing four seasons at Northeastern (2014-18). Kenny Hausinger, who the Railers signed to play in the 2019-20 season before they opted out, played four years at UMass-Lowell.
The 210Sports Player of the Game was Brody Claeys.
The three stars of the game were:
1. REA – 32 Tristan Cote-Cazenave
2. REA – 5 Patrick McNally
3. WOR – 30 Brody Claeys
Even Strength Lines
Smotherman / Beaudoin / Besinger
Ordoobadi / Paliani / Repaci
Selman / Starrett / Leen
Spetz / Albano
Furgele / Boudrias
Gallagher / Burns
Worcester 0 0 0 – 0
Reading 0 0 2 – 2
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Cormier Rea (hooking), 7:51.
2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Selman Wor (boarding), 7:37.
3rd Period-1, Reading, McNally 3 (Bajkov, Gagnon), 3:49 (PP). 2, Reading, Ebbing 4 (Morrison, DiChiara), 6:09. Penalties-Furgele Wor (tripping), 2:54; Spetz Wor (hooking), 14:42.
Shots on Goal-Worcester 4-5-5-14. Reading 9-17-18-44.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 0 / 1; Reading 1 / 3.
Goalies-Worcester, Claeys 0-1-0-0 (44 shots-42 saves). Reading, Côté-Cazenave 1-0-0-0 (14 shots-14 saves).
Referees-Alexander Ross (11).
Linesmen-Matt Fox (63), Colin Gates (52).
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