For the second time in as many nights the Worcester Railers and Kalamazoo Wings met at the DCU Center, and Saturday night the two goaltenders played like Jedi as Colten Ellis and Trevor Gorsuch combined to stop 67 of 70 shots on Star Wars Night, but it was the K-Wings Justin Taylor showing he was the Master with an overtime game-winner to defeat Worcester 2-1.
Early on in the contest it was all Railers, who jumped out to a 13-0 shots advantage but Gorsuch looked like a sheet of plywood in net, making big stop after big stop. At one point the Railers had a five on three advantage for almost a minute, but despite some great chances, Gorsuch was up to the task. Kalamazoo didn’t get their first shot of the game until 9:31 of the first period, but from that point on Ellis was just as good as his counterpart.
Late in the opening frame, Cole Coskey skated into the Kalamazoo zone making many of the K-Wings’ skaters look foolish, and drew a penalty. With a fresh sheet of ice on the power play, Nick Albano got his team on the board.
From there it was all about the goaltending as both sides had tremendous chances that were turned aside by Ellis and Gorsuch. As the game went deep into the third period both teams knew the next goal would be huge, and players began diving all over the ice to block shots like it was the seventh game of a playoff series.
It was becoming clear that it would take a mistake for either team to light the lamp, and unfortunately for Worcester fans, it was the Railers that blinked when rookie defenseman Austin Osmanski took the wrong angle against onrushing Kalamazoo forward Matheson Iacopelli, and Iacopelli was able to skate in on Ellis all alone and beat the netminder to the blocker side at 17:29.
To overtime the teams went, where the K-Wings got the only two shots of the extra stanza, with Taylor banging home a rebound at 0:53 to send the Worcester fans home disappointed.
Scratches for the Railers were Will Cullen, Grant Jozefek (IR/upper body), Ross Olsson, Chris Ordoobadi, Jimmy Poreda, Ethan Price, and Matt Sredl (IR/unknown). Ken Appleby, who was re-assigned by the NY Islanders from Bridgeport to Worcester, was the back-up goaltender.
Fans always seem to get a bit perplexed when they read an ECHL transaction that reports that a team suspended a player and removed him from the roster. It’s almost always the same thing: the player has signed a contract with a European club and the ECHL team suspends the player to retain his rights. It’s virtually never a disciplinary issue, and that was the case with Danny Katic, who the Railers suspended Saturday. The team said there just wasn’t a spot open for him anymore and both parted ways amicably. It is possible Katic could return in the future, either later this season, or if Worcester gives him a qualifying offer, next season.
Katic wasn’t the only player fans were abuzz about being suspended as former Worcester netminder Evan Buitenhuis was also on the transaction listing on Saturday. A quick inquiry to the Wichita Thunder returned the expected answer, Buitenhuis is heading to Europe. It wasn’t the only Buitenhuis news of the night. Railers photographer Rich LeBlanc took an incredible picture during the team’s 2019-20 Teddy Bear Toss, and as soon as I saw it I knew that I needed to have one autographed. Pregame Saturday Rich handed me and Steve Hoover, the person who threw the giant stuff unicorn, autographed copies of the picture. As soon as I frame it, it will be sitting right next to my desk. Thank you again Rich!
Sports rulebooks are written in a manner to try and cover every possibility, and as such, you’ll see rules that hardly ever come into play. One of those is rule 19.4, which essentially boils down to that if there are coincidental penalties called in the last five minutes of regulation or in overtime and one of those penalties is a major that would result in a power play, that power play is awarded immediately. So in the case of one player getting a major and another a minor, the three-minute difference goes on the clock right away and a power play begins. It’s just an oddity that some fans, like Connecticut Post reporter Michael Fornabaio and myself, get a kick out of. But on Wednesday, the rarest of the rare happened in the Toronto Marlies @ Grand Rapids Griffins game as a late-game incident gave the Marlies the ultra-rare one-minute major power play when Toronto’s Brett Seney was called for a double-minor for roughing and the Griffins Dominik Shine got a major for fighting and a game misconduct at 17:08 of the third. The fans at the Van Andel Arena, apparently not realizing they were witnessing a momentous occasion, didn’t take to social media with pictures of the scoreboard showing the one-minute power play on the clock. I probably wouldn’t have framed it, but it would have been nice to see. The Marlies didn’t score but would hold on for a 4-3 win.
The three stars of the game were
1. KAL – 93 Justin Taylor
2. WOR – 92 Colten Ellis
3. KAL – 35 Trevor Gorsuch
The 210Sports Player of the Game was Nick Albano.
Even Strength Lines
Vesey / Beaudoin / Repaci
Newkirk / Hayhurst / Coskey
Butler / Coughlin / Smotherman
Spetz / Albano
Osmanski / McCarthy
Furgele / McGurty
Kalamazoo 0 0 1 1 – 2
Worcester 0 1 0 0 – 1
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Blaney Kal (tripping), 4:46; Jordan Kal (high-sticking), 6:00; Murray Kal (roughing), 16:30; Hayhurst Wor (roughing), 16:30; Taylor Kal (holding), 19:55.
2nd Period-1, Worcester, Albano 4 (Coughlin, Newkirk), 1:06 (PP). Penalties-Butler Wor (tripping), 3:24; Vesey Wor (high-sticking), 9:51; McGurty Wor (boarding), 15:05.
3rd Period-2, Kalamazoo, Iacopelli 6 (Taylor, Murray), 17:21. Penalties-Vesey Wor (holding), 9:17.
1st OT Period-3, Kalamazoo, Taylor 13 (Iacopelli, Kattelus), 0:53. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Kalamazoo 9-16-9-2-36. Worcester 19-8-7-0-34.
Power Play Opportunities-Kalamazoo 0 / 4; Worcester 1 / 3.
Goalies-Kalamazoo, Gorsuch 11-10-0-0 (34 shots-33 saves). Worcester, Ellis 7-3-2-0 (36 shots-34 saves).
Referees-Rocco Stachowiak (28).
Linesmen-Ryan Robinson (96), Matthew Hallock (85).