GLENS FALLS, NY – The Worcester Railers had lost three in a row to North Division opponents and really needed a win to get back on track as the playoff push continues, and used a four point night from veteran Bobby Butler to defeat the Adirondack Thunder 5-1 Friday night at the Cool Insuring Arena.
All season long the Railers have had issues with turnovers in their own end, and early on Friday night was no exception as two separate times Worcester goaltender Ken Appleby made saves after his defenders coughed the puck up.
The adage is “three strikes and you’re out”, and the third time it happened not only couldn’t Appleby make the save he was the cause of the turnover. Adirondack captain Pete MacArthur was the eventual goal scorer at 11:28 of the opening period.
That deficit didn’t last too long as Mitchell Balmas knotted the score 1-1 with a great wrist shot from about 15-feet out.
The second period was one of the oddest this writer has ever seen, with both the Railers and Thunder somehow being unable to score. Shooters seeing wide-open nets and completely missing or goalies down and out somehow finding a way to stop what looked to be a sure goal was the way of that frame.
It was Worcester that snapped out of it first, as the boys in orange grabbed two in the period’s final minute. It was Balas again that put the puck in the net at 19:00 to make it 2-1.
Twenty-nine seconds later Anthony Repaci made it 3-1
With assists on both Balmas strikes Butler decided it was time for him to pot one of his own as he made it 4-1 early in the third frame.
With nothing to lose and needing a miracle, the Thunder pulled their goalie late in the period. Butler then notched his second of the game and fourth of the season to make it the 5-1 final.
Scratches for the Railers were Felix Bibeau (IR/lower body), Blake Christensen (unknown injury), Liam Coughlin (IR/unknown), Grant Jozefek (IR/upper body), Chris Ordoobadi (IR/unknown), Ethan Price, and Jordan Smotherman (unknown injury). Colten Ellis was the backup goaltender.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock all Railers fans know that fan-favorite Ross Olsson was traded this week to the Orlando Solar Bears in exchange for defenseman Nolan Valleau. It’s one of those trades that causes fan bases to become emotional over the loss of a player they know and love, but based on Worcester defensive issues this season the need for a veteran blueliner made Railers GM Dave Cunniff have to make a hard choice. Hockey is about winning games, and as much as we all will miss Olsson this was probably the right move for the team.
March 25th was one of three dates in Worcester pro hockey where a team from the city had never won, so with the Railers 5-1 victory, we can scratch this one off the list. That leaves just November 18 (0-6-1; 2 OTL, 1 tie) and March 4 (0-7-2; 2 OTL, 2 SOL) to go. This season the Railers didn’t play on November 18th and lost to Reading 5-3 on March 4th.
There was a large contingent of Worcester fans at the Cool Insuring Arena Friday night, and that number is expected to grow for Saturday’s contest. The Friday/Saturday series made the three-hour trek from Worcester to Glens Falls look very attractive for Railers fans for a nice road weekend of hockey. While this writer can’t say what the Thunder fans at the arena thought, after Friday night’s win it was obvious the serving staff at the Queensbury hotel bar was certainly glad to see us.
The three stars of the game were:
1. WOR – 8 Bobby Butler
2. WOR – 86 Mitchell Balmas
3. WOR – 35 Ken Appleby
The 210Sports Player of the Game was Jacob Hayhurst.
Even Strength Lines
Vesey / Beaudoin / Repaci
Jandric / Newton / Coskey
Balmas / Hayhurst / Butler
McCarthy / McGurty
Spetz / Sredl
Verrier / Markell
In the North Division
Newfoundland 4, Maine 3
South Carolina 3, Trois-Rivieres 0
Norfolk 3, Reading 2
Our affiliates last night
Springfield 3, Hartford 2
Worcester 1 2 2 – 5
Adirondack 1 0 0 – 1
1st Period-1, Adirondack, MacArthur 8 (Harper, Long), 11:28. 2, Worcester, Balmas 4 (Butler, Spetz), 14:03. Penalties-Jerry Adk (holding), 3:49; Kasel Adk (tripping), 18:10.
2nd Period-3, Worcester, Balmas 5 (Butler, Hayhurst), 19:00. 4, Worcester, Repaci 19 (Vesey, Beaudoin), 19:29. Penalties-Newton Wor (tripping), 9:25; Butler Wor (hooking), 12:15; Irvine Adk (holding), 16:05; Newton Wor (roughing), 17:59; Mazza Adk (roughing), 17:59.
3rd Period-5, Worcester, Butler 3 (McGurty, Hayhurst), 4:03. 6, Worcester, Butler 4 (Balmas, Verrier), 18:30 (EN). Penalties-McCarthy Wor (slashing), 0:21.
Shots on Goal-Worcester 17-11-9-37. Adirondack 8-15-14-37.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 0 / 3; Adirondack 0 / 3.
Goalies-Worcester, Appleby 11-10-0-1 (37 shots-36 saves). Adirondack, Kasel 7-13-1-0 (36 shots-32 saves).
Referees-Matt Menniti (31).
Linesmen-Guillaume Brunelle (81), Brandon Wormley (41).
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