The Worcester Railers took on the Adirondack Thunder at the DCU Center Saturday night in the first of a pair of weekend games against their ECHL North Division rivals and in an ending that was perhaps a bit more exciting than it needed to be held on for a 3-2 victory.
Both teams came out of the gate flying, and they played some of the most entertaining hockey the building has seen recently in the opening twenty minutes. Both Railers goaltender Ken Appleby and Thunder netminder Brandon Kasel were sharp, combining for 23 saves and each limiting second chances with great rebound control.
It was Adirondack that would break through first when Myles McGurty was off for tripping former teammate Brennan Feasey. Appleby made two or three big saves on the penalty kill, but eventually Joe Masonius’ shot through a screen of players beat Appleby high glove at 2:18.
Worcester continued to get chances but couldn’t get the puck into the net. It started to look like it was going to take a greasy goal to get on the board, and that’s just what Ross Olsson delivered.
It looked like were headed to a video review, but referee John Lindner was adamant it was a goal and did not even make the slightest move to look at the video.
The game stayed tied into the third period when out of nowhere Anthony Pepaci gave Worcester the 2-1 lead on a play that looked like it was going to be nothing.
Kasel must have still been thinking about the Repaci goal 33-seconds later when Cole Coskey beat him with a wrist shot he probably should have stopped.
Adirondack then went into full pressure mode and the Railers weathered the storm pretty well, or at least until Nick Albano took an ill-advised cross-checking minor. Robbie Payne put one past Appleby from a sharp angle with five seconds left in regulation, and somehow the Thunder were able to make a last-second effort off the ensuing faceoff, forcing Appleby to make a big save just before the final buzzer to keep the score 3-2.
Scratches for the Railers were Karl Boudrias (Commissioner’s Exempt List), Grant Jozefek (IR/upper body), Danny Katic, Connor McCarthy (Commissioner’s Exempt List), Chris Ordoobadi (Commissioner’s Exempt List), Devon Paliani, Luke Peressini, and Ethan Price. Colten Ellis, who was re-assigned by the St Louis Blues from Springfield to Worcester, was the backup goaltender.
With the ECHL switching the jersey colors for home and away we will hopefully see more of one of this writer’s favorite things: both teams wearing non-white jerseys. If the visitor is wearing a black or other darker color jersey there’s no reason Worcester can’t wear their orange third jersey. In fact, Railers Booster Club president Rich Lundin pointed out that on Friday, the jersey switch date, Trois-Rivieres wore their blue jerseys, which would have been a perfect opportunity for the Railers to bring out their orange sweaters. I’ll also point out that while some say they loved the Trois-Rivieres’ jerseys I think the lack of stripping anywhere on them makes them look like pajamas. The Lions picked a great color and logo but designed terrible jerseys.
Got to speak in person to Railers COO Mike Myers last night for the first time in a few weeks. With all the scrambling that’s been going on to fill the lineup plus the usual holiday running around, Myzie hasn’t been around much during the games. I only mention it because the seeds of a potential Railers specialty jersey that were planted long before the team first took the ice in 2017 have started to sprout. Every Myers-designed specialty jersey looks incredible and this one will undoubtedly not be an exception. There will, hopefully, be a lot more on this in the future.
With all the complaining about referee Matt Menniti Friday night it’s only fair to point out that referee John Lindner called a really good game Saturday night. He called one penalty I disagreed with when it happened, an interference minor on Adirondack’s Jake Ryczek in the middle of the third period when Ryczek and Brent Beaudoin appeared to accidentally collide in the neutral zone on a Railers shorthanded rush. Watching the incident on the video referee Lindner absolutely got it right, Ryczek tried to make it look like an accident but he definitely targeted Beaudoin for the pick. A couple of times Linder skated by a player that was downed shaking his head, essentially indicating he thought the player might have taken a bit of a dive. Both times he did that he was right too. And I’m OK with him not calling embellishing minors either time.
The three stars of the game were
1. WOR – 35 Ken Appleby
2. WOR – 81 Anthony Repaci
3. WOR – 24 Cole Coskey
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
Adirondack 0 1 1 – 2
Worcester 0 1 2 – 3
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Carrier Adk (cross-checking), 17:27.
2nd Period-1, Adirondack, Masonius 4 (Stevens, Smith), 2:18 (PP). 2, Worcester, Olsson 10 (Smotherman, Coughlin), 13:14. Penalties-McGurty Wor (tripping), 0:37; Mazza Adk (interference), 13:14; McGurty Wor (cross-checking), 15:32.
3rd Period-3, Worcester, Repaci 9 (Beaudoin), 8:02. 4, Worcester, Coskey 3 (Butler), 8:35. 5, Adirondack, Payne 12 (Harper, Vidmar), 19:54 (PP). Penalties-Albano Wor (slashing), 9:58; Ryczek Adk (interference), 10:40; Ryczek Adk (cross-checking), 13:59; Ryczek Adk (tripping), 16:22; Albano Wor (cross-checking), 19:13.
Shots on Goal-Adirondack 11-13-10-34. Worcester 12-14-8-34.
Power Play Opportunities-Adirondack 2 / 4; Worcester 0 / 5.
Goalies-Adirondack, Kasel 2-3-1-0 (34 shots-31 saves). Worcester, Appleby 6-7-0-1 (34 shots-32 saves).
Referees-John Lindner (6).
Linesmen-Matthew Hallock (85), Robert Griffin (53).