The Worcester Railers began the unofficial second half of the ECHL’s regular season Friday night at the DCU Center in a match-up against the Trois-Rivières Lions, where not only did Worcester have to play against an opponent wearing all blue but they also had to battle the three guys in stripes as two bad calls directly led to goals against in a 4-3 loss to the Lions.
The night started on a high note for Railers fans as the team announced the return of Bobby Butler, who came out of retirement and scored a goal and two assists on January 2nd in Worcester’s 5-3 win over Reading. From the moment the game was over Railers fans were hoping he would decide to come back on a more permanent basis, and for now, it appears they’re getting their wish.
Even Trois-Rivières getting the first goal of the night on a hard wrist shot by Shawn St-Amant at 4:21 of the first that Ken Appleby could only get a small piece of as it whizzed past him didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of the Worcester faithful.
It was the much-maligned Railers’ power play that got them back to even on a nice set piece that ended with a Ross Olsson goal.
The Lions would grab the next goal of the game, thanks in large part to an error by referee Matt Menniti and the two linesmen. It started with Cole Coskey attempting to lift the puck out of the Railers zone. His attempt wasn’t high enough, and Trois-Rivières defenseman Mathieu Gagnon was able to get a glove on it and deflected it into the Worcester bench. The resulting face-off should have taken place in the neutral zone and not in the Worcester end, but after the linesmen indicated the dot in front of the Railers bench referee Menniti inserted himself into the process and moved the faceoff to the right of Appleby.
You don’t have to be a mentalist to figure out what happens next as in the ensuing play Cedric Montminy knocked home a loose puck in front of Appleby to make it 2-1. Early in the second period, the Lions made it 3-1 when they converted on an odd-man rush when the Worcester defenders lost track of Justin Ducharme and left him alone in front to push home a rebound at 2:07 of the middle stanza.
Butler’s vision of the ice cut the deficit to one goal when he found Nolan Vesey streaking into the zone after a line change.
The power play struck for a second time in the game to tie the game 3-3
Late in the third-period referee Menniti did his best Terry Koharski imitation and called Reece Newkirk for interference on a play that was borderline at best, and as a call was well below what he had let go for the entire game up until that point. While on that penalty kill this writer said to those around his perch that the Railers needed to avoid going near a Lions player because the referee was going to call another penalty to give Trois-Rivières a five on three power-play like Worcester had earlier in the game.
And, of course, that happened.
The play was in the neutral zone when Jacob Hayhurst poke checked the puck away from Cameron Hillis and gained possession of the puck before Hillis tripped over Hayhurst’s stick. Once Hayhurst claimed the puck, which Hillis never touched after the poke check, Hillis becomes a defender and not a puck carrier. Since Hayhurst is now the puck carrier, he can’t be guilty of tripping. Referee Menniti, who was so out of position for the entirety of the play that he can’t be seen in the video for the preceding 30 seconds, called the trip.
Worcester did manage to kill both penalties and officially get back to even strength, but just three seconds after Hayhurst’s penalty expired Montminy scored the eventual game-winner.
Scratches for the Railers were Karl Boudrias (Commissioner’s Exempt List), Grant Jozefek (IR/upper body), Connor McCarthy (Commissioner’s Exempt List), Chris Ordoobadi (Commissioner’s Exempt List), and Devon Paliani. Newly signed Danny Katic and Etan Price were also scratches. Luke Peressini was the backup goaltender.
To make room for the new arrivals Worcester released Tommy Besinger and Brenan Feasey. The pair totaled a goal and an assist in 14 games played and combined for a minus-7 rating. Feasey was eventually claimed off waivers by Adirondack.
It was jersey reversal night in the ECHL, where teams switch from wearing dark jerseys at home to the lights. They’ll now stay that way through the end of the playoffs. Teams can work out jersey colors between themselves when one is wearing a specialty jersey that doesn’t match the default pattern.
As we often do in the first post of a weekend set we’ll look back as last week’s “Player of the Week”, as voted in the Railers Fans Facebook Group. We cheated a touch and added last Monday’s game in Reading to totals, and the runaway winner was Brent Boudoin. Cole Coskey, Anthony Repaci, and Nolan Vesey were the other nominees.
In some news that now potentially hurts the Railers, the ECHL is switching from total points to points percentage in determining who qualifies for the Kelly Cup playoffs. While it’s obvious that making up all the postponed games will be a scheduling nightmare, teams should absolutely be required to play those missed games because some teams, the Railers included, went out and signed players and put inferior teams on the ice to play those scheduled games. Any game not played should count as a loss for the teams not playing them.
The three stars of the game were
1. TR – 21 Cedric Montminy
2. WOR – 8 Bobby Butler
3. WOR – 35 Ken Appleby
The 210Sports Player of the Game was Ross Olsson.
Even Strength Lines
Vesey / Beaudoin / Repaci
Newkirk / Hayhurst / Coskey
Olsson / Coughlin / Smotherman
Spetz / Cullen
Albano / Sredl
Furgele / McGurty
Trois-Rivières 2 1 1 – 4
Worcester 1 2 0 – 3
1st Period-1, Trois-Rivières, St-Amant 12 (DeLuca, Leblanc), 4:21. 2, Worcester, Olsson 9 (Cullen, Hayhurst), 12:59 (PP). 3, Trois-Rivières, Montminy 8 (Galipeau, St-Amant), 16:01. Penalties-Nellis Tr (hooking), 8:29; DeLuca Tr (hooking), 10:57; Ducharme Tr (tripping), 12:02.
2nd Period-4, Trois-Rivières, Ducharme 8 (Archambault), 2:07. 5, Worcester, Vesey 5 (Butler, Newkirk), 7:34. 6, Worcester, Furgele 2 (Butler, Smotherman), 9:58 (PP). Penalties-Galipeau Tr (high-sticking – double), 9:49; Malouin Tr (fighting – major), 19:33; Olsson Wor (fighting – major), 19:33.
3rd Period-7, Trois-Rivières, Montminy 9 (Beaudoin, Leblanc), 16:32. Penalties-Newkirk Wor (interference), 12:57; Hayhurst Wor (tripping), 14:29.
Shots on Goal-Trois-Rivières 19-14-10-43. Worcester 15-12-10-37.
Power Play Opportunities-Trois-Rivières 0 / 2; Worcester 2 / 5.
Goalies-Trois-Rivières, Bérubé 1-1-0-0 (37 shots-34 saves). Worcester, Appleby 5-7-0-1 (43 shots-39 saves).
Referees-Matt Menniti (10).
Linesmen-Sam Schildkraut (46), Brent Colby (77).