Railers continue playoff push with 5-4 victory over Adirondack

The Worcester Railers hosted the Adirondack Thunder Friday night at the DCU Center in a battle of ECHL North Division rivals with Worcester hoping for two points to catch the Maine Mariners for the final divisional playoff spot and to keep the Thunder in the rearview mirror, and using multiple-point nights from five different players defeated Adirondack 5-4.

At this point in the season with playoff spots being determined by points percentage the Railers need to beat the teams around them in the standings in regulation, and while the Thunder are a good distance back of fifth-place keeping them out of the playoff chase is nearly as important to the Railers as staying in it themselves.

As has happened more frequently since the Railers lineup stabilized, it was Worcester getting on the board first with a power play goal just 1:55 into the contest.

There are good penalties and bad penalties, and McGurty’s first-period crosscheck was a good penalty to take as it stopped a high-quality scoring chance as the Thunder swarmed the Worcester net. McGurty got his two-minutes worth, taking out two Adirondack players to help keep the puck out of the net. Unfortunately for the Railers, their improving penalty kill had a hiccup and despite Ken Appleby making some great saves the Thunder were able to convert on the man advantage to make it 1-1.

The squads went to intermission tied, but it took just 19 seconds into the middle stanza for Worcester to retake the lead.

It’s not known if Ross Olsson yelled “bank” before his goal, but it counts all the same anyway.

Toward the end of the second frame, Worcester’s hard-fought lead would suddenly disappear when Adirondack connected for two quick strikes to tie it, with Luke Stevens scoring at 18:14 and then Ryan Smith connecting on the power play at 19:25.

Momentum was clearly on the Thunder’s side to start the third period, but slowly the Railers started to tilt the ice back toward the Adirondack end. It was more hard work that gave Worcester its lead back.

The play was reviewed for a kicking motion, but after just one view of the replay referee Sam Heidemann ruled it a good goal.

Just 68 seconds later the Railers would get a little breathing room.

And they’d need that extra goal as Smith connected for his second of the game at 11:50 and Worcester would face a six-on-four power play chance when Austin Osmanski was sent off for a high sticking minor with under three minutes to go. The Railers survived the onslaught and skated to the dressing room with two points.

Scratches for the Railers were Grant Jozefek (IR/upper body), Connor McCarthy (IR/unknown), Reece Newkirk, Chris Ordoobadi (IR/unknown), and Anthony Repaci (day to day/upper). Colten Ellis was the backup up goaltender. Defenseman Artur Terchiyev, signed by Worcester Friday, was also a scratch. Word was he was in the city and will practice with the team in the coming days.

While there’s been no official transaction listed, during Friday night’s game broadcaster Cam McGuire told the listening audience that defenseman Nick Albano had been traded to the Allen Americans for future considerations. He is the third Railers player to be sent to the Amerks this season, joining JD Dudek and Tyler Poulsen on the list. You could get away with calling the Americans “Worcester South” as there are now six former Worcester pro players on the roster. Former WorSharks Chad Costello, Jack Combs, and Spencer Asuchak also play for Allen.

About halfway through the middle period, it appeared to this writer that Jordan Smotherman had scored, but the red light did not go on, and play continued. Smotherman, who had left the ice on a line change, asked referee Sam Heidemann to review the play at the next stoppage of play. In the ECHL there is no coach’s challenge and the referee is under no obligation to go to the video. Heidemann, who was trailing the play and didn’t have the best view of it, talked it over with his linesmen and decided to take a look at it. After a fairly lengthy review, it was determined the puck didn’t cross the goal line. Railers COO Mike Myers and former longtime play-by-play man Eric Lindquist, who were both sitting on press row, also originally thought it was a goal. Worcester’s video production team erased all doubts by confirming the call of “no goal” on the ice.

And speaking of linesmen, it’s very rare that you see one in any level of pro hockey make obvious errors. We’re not talking about something a few inches offside, we’re referring to plays a couple feet offside. There were at least four instances of that in Friday’s game, which is usually a season’s worth. But they did get one right that many fans thought was wrong when they ruled Sebastian Vidmar onside on a play that lead to their second goal. Even on a first glance at the video, it looks offside, but slowing it down just a touch shows that while the linesmen closest to the play was out of position the trailing linesman got the play correct as the puck is clearly visible in the Railers zone and Vidmar’s skates are straddling the blue line.

For those people keeping track, and to be honest, if you are you might need to get out a little more often, the mystery hooking minor given to Railers forward Mitchell Balmas Wednesday night in Maine has been expunged from his record. Perhaps more importantly from the game, add an assist to Charlie Spetz on Cole Cokely’s opening goal and Jordan Smotherman no longer gets credit for Worcester’s third goal. That now reads “2. WOR Osmanski, (2) (Newkirk, Hayhurst), 17:54”. The boxscore still lists Ken Appleby as the starting goaltender as opposed to Colten Ellis but all the stats belong to Ellis, but we’ll let that one slide into oblivion.

The three stars of the game were:
1. WOR – 14 Jordan Smotherman
2. WOR – 24 Cole Coskey
3. WOR – 23 Ross Olsson

The 210Sports Player of the Game was Liam Coughlin.

Even Strength Lines
Vesey / Beaudoin / Butler
Smotherman / Coughlin / Coskey
Balmas / Hayhurst / Price
Olsson / / Christensen

Spetz / McGurty
Osmanski / Sredl

In the North Division
Newfoundland 6, Trois-Rivieres 1

Our affiliates last night
NY Islanders 5, Winnipeg 2
Hershey 2, Bridgeport 1
Charlotte 5, Springfield 1

Adirondack 1 2 1 – 4
Worcester 1 2 2 – 5

1st Period-1, Worcester, Smotherman 24 (Coughlin, Coskey), 1:55 (PP). 2, Adirondack, Kaplan 7 (Grasso), 12:37 (PP). Penalties-Masonius Adk (tripping), 1:07; Hamilton Adk (fighting – major), 7:45; Price Wor (fighting – major), 7:45; McGurty Wor (cross-checking), 11:55.

2nd Period-3, Worcester, Vesey 12 (Butler, Osmanski), 0:19. 4, Worcester, Olsson 19 (Christensen, Coskey), 5:50 (PP). 5, Adirondack, Stevens 3 (Vidmar, Mazza), 18:14. 6, Adirondack, Smith 7 (Irvine, Kaplan), 19:25 (PP). Penalties-Long Adk (holding), 4:01; Phillips Adk (holding), 10:12; Vesey Wor (slashing), 18:24.

3rd Period-7, Worcester, Smotherman 25 (Coughlin, Coskey), 8:03. 8, Worcester, Christensen 13 (Olsson, Furgele), 9:11. 9, Adirondack, Smith 8 (Kaplan, Thompson), 11:50. Penalties-Osmanski Wor (high-sticking), 17:37.

Shots on Goal-Adirondack 13-11-8-32. Worcester 11-12-11-34.
Power Play Opportunities-Adirondack 2 / 3; Worcester 2 / 3.
Goalies-Adirondack, Mitens 8-7-1-0 (34 shots-29 saves). Worcester, Appleby 8-9-0-1 (32 shots-28 saves).
Referees-Sam Heidemann (22).
Linesmen-Robert Griffin (53), Sam Schildkraut (46).

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