Saturday night at the DCU Center the Worcester Railers once again faced off against the Reading Royals, and the Railers took advantage of the Royals lackluster play for much of the game and put two points in their pockets with a 2-1 victory. The victory over Reading is the first Worcester win scoring two goals or less since beating Maine 2-1 on January 25, 2020.
Hockey is a lot like football in that forcing turnovers is a good way to put yourself in a great position to score. Saturday night was the perfect example of this as all three goals were scored as a direct result of a turnover, and all three were scored unassisted. As of posting time, it appears it was the first time in Worcester pro hockey history three or more goals were scored in a game without an assist being handed out.
Worcester’s first goal came when Reading defender Dominic Cormier casually flipped the puck up the boards towards a teammate, where Brent Beaudoin intercepted it and broke into the Royals zone.
The Railers’ second goal came when once again Cormier didn’t take care of the puck and Will Cullen intercepted the weak clearing attempt.
In the second frame, the Royals made it 2-1 when Jacob Pritchard intercepted Connor McCarthy’s clearing bid off the end wall and banked it off Worcester netminder Ken Appleby and in. It’s a safe bet if you asked Appleby he’d say he’d like another chance at that one as he was very deep in his net and not expecting a shot.
From there the much-maligned Railers defense did a decent job of keeping Reading at bay, forcing long-range shots that Appleby had great looks at. Worcester also got a couple lucky breaks, which all teams need once in a while to win, as the Royals couldn’t corral many bouncing pucks. Trevor Gooch had the best of the bids with an extra attacker but his attempted tip from right out in front went high over the net.
Scratches for the Railers were Cole Coskey (ill), Liam Coughlin (Commissioner’s Exempt List), John Furgele, Grant Jozefek (IR/upper body), and Jordan Smotherman (Commissioner’s Exempt List). Luke Peressini was the backup goaltender. Prior to the game, Austin Osmanski was recalled by Springfield.
Currently Worcester only has one injured player, Jozefek, who hasn’t played since December 8, but there could be a second name added to the list in Nick Albano. The rookie defenseman took a shot off the foot/ankle area in the second period and literally hopped to the bench, going immediately down the tunnel. He returned for a couple of shifts but then late in the frame was back in the dressing room. He was seen post-game with it wrapped up but was apparently walking on it, which would be a good sign.
Saturday was Marvel specialty jersey night, with the Railers wearing Thor jerseys that could be best described as “they could have been worse”. Worcester went with the secondary logo on the front, which fits the motif of the jersey but is akin to putting lipstick on a pig. It’s safe to say any jersey that isn’t designed by Railers COO Mike Myers isn’t going to be up to the standards Worcester fans are used to. The Royals wore white Loki jerseys–thanks to Eric Fellows for identifying them for me–which were actually pretty nice. The green and yellow logo really popped on the front and the green numbers on the back were very easy to read.
The ECHL’s All-Star break is an odd one, with the game itself taking place Monday in Jacksonville. What’s odd about it is there are three regular-season games scheduled for that date too, including another Railers/Royals tilt in Reading. Worcester’s representative is Railers goaltender Ken Appleby, who was given the choice to participate in the game or play in Monday’s game in Reading. Not having ever taken part in a professional all-star game, Appleby understandably chose to go to Jacksonville. Luke Peressini will man the net for Worcester in his absence. Left-winger Jacob Pritchard is Reading’s representative.
Lots of people only know hockey by watching it on television, and I can tell you after seeing well over 1,000 pro and college games in person that so much is missed by broadcasts. A perfect example was from last night in the first period when Appleby made an incredible save and in doing so managed to direct the puck away from a Royals player right in front of the net waiting for the rebound. 200-feet away Reading goaltender Kirill Ustimenko tapped his stick on the ice in appreciation of the save. In the second period, the roles were reversed, with Ustimenko making an absolutely amazing open-ice diving save. Down at the other end was Appleby, tapping his stick and nodding “yes”. Little things like that are what make the game great, and usually can’t be seen on TV.
A handful of people have asked me about linesperson Laura Schmidlein, who was injured in Wednesday night’s game against Maine and had to be helped from the ice. The Railers as a rule don’t comment on injuries to officials or opponents, so I went a different route and asked a friend who knows many ECHL linesmen. We should of course take this third-hand information with a grain of salt, but word is Schmidlein broke her right fibula, which is the non-weight bearing bone in the lower leg. A quick Google search says surgery for that kind of injury is likely, so we probably shouldn’t expect to see Schmidlein back out on the ice anytime soon.
The three stars of the game were
1. WOR – 35 Ken Appleby
2. WOR – 12 Brent Beaudoin
3. WOR – 44 Will Cullen
The 210Sports Player of the Game was Ross Olsson.
Even Strength Lines
Vesey / Beaudoin / Newkirk
Repaci / Besinger / Feasey
Olsson / Paliani / Ordoobadi
Boudrias / McGurty
Spetz / Albano
Cullen / McCarthy
Reading 0 1 0 – 1
Worcester 2 0 0 – 2
1st Period-1, Worcester, Beaudoin 7 17:16. 2, Worcester, Cullen 3 19:01. Penalties-Hausinger Rea (roughing), 11:31; Olsson Wor (roughing), 11:31.
2nd Period-3, Reading, Pritchard 9 13:54. Penalties-Olsson Wor (roughing), 5:54.
3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Cockerill Rea (hooking), 0:47; Cullen Wor (slashing), 4:37; Cockerill Rea (slashing), 6:22; Besinger Wor (tripping), 9:36.
Shots on Goal-Reading 12-12-12-36. Worcester 9-9-5-23.
Power Play Opportunities-Reading 0 / 3; Worcester 0 / 2.
Goalies-Reading, Ustimenko 3-5-2-0 (23 shots-21 saves). Worcester, Appleby 5-6-0-1 (36 shots-35 saves).
Referees-Trevor Wohlford (38).
Linesmen-Evan Reddick (67), Shane Kanaly (74).