Railers squander three-goal lead, lose 4-3 in OT to Maine

The Worcester Railers took on the Maine Mariners at the DCU Center Saturday night in the first of three consecutive matchups between the ECHL North Divison rivals as both battle for the fourth and final divisional playoff spot, and the Railers did the unthinkable in losing a three-goal third-period lead to end up on the wrong end of a 4-3 overtime score.

In sports the term “choke” is massively overused, but it’s had to find a better description as to what Worcester did Saturday night. The Railers seemed to have the game in hand entering the third frame up three goals, and even allowing an early Mariners strike Worcester looked still have things under control until they allowed two goals in 26 seconds with under four minutes to go in regulation.

Now it makes Sunday’s DCU Center rematch and Wednesday’s game at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland pretty much must-wins for Worcester, and they both need to be in regulation.

It was a scoreless opening period, and that was mostly thanks to Railers goaltender Colten Ellis, who made three or four very impressive saves. This was the one Worcester tweeted the highlight of, but he had a glove save that was arguably better.

All of the Railers offense came in the second period, starting with Jacob Hayhurst’s NHL 94-style power play goal.

A bit later Liam Coughlin and Mike Cornell teamed for some B-C button action themselves.

Coughlin’s greasy goal made it a 3-0 score and it looked like the rout was on.

But looks are deceiving, and with Maine grabbing the next four goals what fans got was a heartbreaking loss.

Scratches for the Railers were Nick Albano, Bobby Butler (IR/unknown), Will Cullen (IR/unknown), Grant Jozefek (IR/upper body), Connor McCarthy (IR/unknown), Reece Newkirk (upper body), Ross Olsson, and Chris Ordoobadi. Jimmy Poreda was the backup up goaltender.

There might be another addition to Worcester’s injured list with Mitchell Balmas missing the last half of the third period when he lost his balance after a breakaway bid and was pushed into the board by Maine’s Mathew Santos. Balmas wasn’t putting any weight on his right leg as he was helped off the ice.

The Railers wore Worcester Red Sox-style jerseys, and as one would expect on a jersey designed by Railers COO Mike Myers, were impressive looking.

Unfortunately, as you can tell from the picture, there aren’t any shoulder numbers as baseball jerseys don’t use them. It made identifying some of the players a bit difficult, including this writer who misidentified Cole Coskey for Reece Newkirk in jotting down the lines. It really was just a minor inconvenience that I’ll make sound like it’s the end of the world, but it’s easy to forget how much we rely on the little things until they aren’t there anymore. The jerseys were auctioned off to benefit The Be Like Brit Foundation, as was the Booster Club’s share of the 50/50 raffle.

Prior to puck drop there was a moment of silence for fallen Massachusetts State Trooper Tamar Bucci, who was killed in a crash with a tractor-trailer on Interstate 93 late Thursday night as Trooper Bucci attempted to pull over to help a car in the breakdown lane on the northbound side of the highway in Stoneham. Bucci was first assigned to the Brookfield Barracks, and then moved over to the Medford Barracks recently, and had been a Trooper for less than two years. Bucci is survived by her parents, two sisters, stepbrother, and stepsister. She is the 22nd member of the Massachusetts State Police to die in the line of duty.

Late in last night’s game, there was a scenario that was correctly ruled “no goal” by referee Casey Terreri where he blew the whistle and then the puck crossed the goal line. Or maybe more correctly, it was the correct call in the ECHL. In the NHL, that might have been a good goal. It’s rule Rule 37.3 (i), which is an NHL rule about the duties of the Video Goal Judge and is a rule that doesn’t exist in the ECHL or AHL. It allows for continuous action goals after the whistle where the whistle had no impact on the play. Based on the side view it’s not possible to see if Blake Christensen hit the loose puck before or after the whistle. If the overhead view had shown he hit the puck before the whistle, that would have been a candidate for video review in the NHL and might have counted as the went into the net untouched by Maine. Obviously none of that matters for the Railers, it’s just one of those interesting rules issues that pop up every now and again.

The three stars of the game were:
1. MNE – 10 Nick Master
2. WOR – 92 Colten Ellis
3. MNE – 35 Stefanos Lekkas

The 210Sports Player of the Game was Liam Coughlin.

Even Strength Lines
Smotherman / Coughlin / Price
Vesey / Beaudoin / Repaci
Coskey / Hayhurst / Balmas

Spetz / McGurty
Osmanski / Sredl
Furgele / Cornell

In the North Division
Reading 4, Wheeling 2
Newfoundland 4, Adirondack 0
Indy 4 Trois-Rivieres 3

Our affiliates last night
NY Islanders 2, St. Louis 1
Bridgeport 4, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 2
Providence 5, Springfield 1

Maine 0 0 3 1 – 4
Worcester 0 3 0 0 – 3

1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Smotherman Wor (tripping), 11:32; Horvath Mne (roughing), 13:54; Christensen Wor (roughing), 17:35.

2nd Period-1, Worcester, Hayhurst 11 (Smotherman, Repaci), 2:57 (PP). 2, Worcester, Cornell 2 (Coughlin), 5:23. 3, Worcester, Coughlin 8 (Furgele, Coskey), 14:45 (PP). Penalties-Kallen Mne (high-sticking), 2:51; Doherty Mne (high-sticking – double), 13:48; Christensen Wor (tripping), 17:58.

3rd Period-4, Maine, Shea 9 1:40. 5, Maine, Jeri-Leon 9 (Malatesta, Master), 16:19. 6, Maine, Jermain 5 (Malatesta), 16:47. Penalties-Balmas Wor (hooking), 7:05; Santos Mne (boarding), 9:15; Cornell Wor (roughing, misconduct – continuing altercation), 9:15.

1st OT Period-7, Maine, Master 11 (Malatesta, Jeri-Leon), 6:41. Penalties-Beaudoin Wor (tripping), 4:35.

Shots on Goal-Maine 13-11-13-6-43. Worcester 7-19-7-1-34.
Power Play Opportunities-Maine 0 / 5; Worcester 2 / 4.
Goalies-Maine, Lekkas 14-11-1-0 (34 shots-31 saves). Worcester, Ellis 12-4-4-1 (43 shots-39 saves).
Referees-Casey Terreri (14).
Linesmen-Matthew Hallock (85), Ryan Robinson (96).

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