The Worcester Railers went into Saturday’s match-up against the Trois-Rivieres Lions at the DCU Center after losing Friday night’s contest 6-0 and not having scored a goal against their ECHL North Division rivals in nearly four full periods of play. The Railers tacked on another 54 minutes of offensive futility before striking twice in 62 seconds to tie it. Steve Jandric’s overtime goal gave the Railers the much-needed bonus point and sent the 6,135 fans in attendance into a frenzy.
After getting blown out of their own building Friday Worcester needed to come out of the games flying, and they did. Unfortunately, it didn’t result in the most important thing you need to win hockey games: a goal.
And has happened far too often lately the Railers found themselves outplaying an opponent and then falling behind on either a defensive miscue or a misplayed puck. This time it wasn’t either of those, it was an unlucky deflection as Mathieu Gagnon’s harmless-looking wrist shot from the blueline hit Worcester defenseman Austin Osmanski and deflected past Worcester netminder Ken Appleby at 17:59 of the first period.
Trois-Rivieres would make it a 2-0 lead before many fans had made it back to their seats after the first intermission when Mitchell Balmas’ power play one-timer went wide and sent the Lions back the other way on a shorthanded two on one. Tim Vanstone took it the whole way, beating Appleby high to the glove side just 42 seconds into the middle frame.
From that point Worcester struggled to get anything going, not getting many high-quality chances and those they did get were turned aside fairly easily by Lions goaltender Arturs Silovs. Their offensive woes were so bad that the Railers managed just four shots on what was nearly a full two-minute five-on-three advantage, none of them testing Silvos in the least. As that power play ended the boo-birds could be clearly heard throughout the DCU Center.
It looked like Worcester’s post-season hopes were going to take another huge hit when suddenly the red light was on as Jordan Smotherman found Max Newton all alone in front with 5:37 left in regulation.
Still needing a goal the Railers dug deep and got a little luck as Silvos never saw the Osmanski wrist shot from the point just 1:02 after Newton’s goal, and it was 2-2 with the crowd back in it.
But Worcester’s work wasn’t done as they needed to kill a late penalty to keep the game all square. They managed that, and while fans likely would have been happy to escape with the point they essentially stole from the Lions the Railers had other ideas, and Jandric was the hero.
Jandric talking about his game-winner
The Railers head to Adirondack for a Sunday afternoon contest against the Thunder, and then it’s off to Trois-Rivieres for the final three games of the regular season next week. And if the Railers want to extend their play beyond that, they’ll need more wins like Saturday night’s.
Scratches for the Railers were Blake Christensen (IR/unknown), Grant Jozefek (IR/upper body), Brendan Less, Chris Ordoobadi (IR/unknown), and Ethan Price (DNP). Colten Ellis was the backup goaltender.
With this writer’s work schedule being a bit messed up and the Railers’ poor play as of late making it hard to find anything worth writing we’re a little behind again on the transactions. Since the last update, Harrison Markell was suspended by the team in what was just a paperwork transaction to keep Markell’s playing rights. He’s headed back to Dartmouth to finish school, and by suspending him the Railers don’t run the risk of losing him to waivers and can add him back to the roster if needed. Ken Appleby returned to Worcester after his long weekend in Bridgeport, so the Railers once again thanked Matt Jenkins for sitting on the bench in Newfoundland and then released him. Prior to Friday’s game, Bridgeport recalled Cole Coskey, and on Saturday Reece Newkirk and Felix Bibeau also went up to the AHL Islanders.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of color vs color games, and this weekend’s set against the blue-wearing Lions was just screaming for the Railers to don their orange sweaters, but unfortunately, Worcester decided to go with their white home jerseys. No amount of prompting that Booster Club president Ruch Lundin and I did Friday night to get them to change for Saturday worked, although to be honest, it was little more than us needling Railers COO Mike Myers about it for a minute or two on Friday night.
The Railers are now finished with the home portion of their 2021-22 schedule, and while they aren’t jumping for joy with the 3,854 per game average attendance, with all the COVID issues this season and some untimely poor weather holding down some expected large crowds they can take a broader view of that number and know that with the trend moving toward everything getting back to normal for next season should get them back to the pre-COVID levels. A solid summer offseason will once again help create some momentum toward opening night in October, building confidence in a safe experience at Railers games.
The same is true with the DCU Center as a whole, with building General Manager Sandy Dunn saying the arena side is pretty much right on schedule emerging from COVID, while the convention center is running right around 60%. The summer months are always slow for arenas and conventions in the northeast, and she expects that come the fall, presuming there are no setbacks with COVID, everything will be business as usual. With there being so many people around I didn’t get a chance to ask about any possible arena upgrades over the summer, but I’m hoping to get a chance for a longer conversation about it in the near future.
And one last thing as it’s Railers related…DJ Ryan McConville, who is responsible for just about every sound that comes over the speakers in the arena during game operations, got engaged at center ice after Saturday night’s game to girlfriend Dee Byrnes. Showing some of us the ring pregame McConville was visibly nervous, but there wasn’t any doubt in most of our minds she was going to say yes. We all wish the happy couple the best for the future.
The three stars of the game were:
1. WOR – 44 Steve Jandric
2. WOR – 4 Austin Osmanski
3. WOR – 21 Max Newton
The 210Sports Player of the Game was Jared Brandt.
Even Strength Lines
Vesey / Beaudoin / Repaci
Butler / Coughlin / Smotherman
Jandric / Hayhurst / Balmas
Osmanski / McCarthy
Spetz / McGurty
Brandt / Sredl
In the North Division
Reading 5, Maine 3
Our affiliates last night
St Louis 6, NY Islanders 1
Providence 6, Bridgeport 2
Hershey 5, Springfield 2
Trois-Rivières 1 1 0 0 – 2
Worcester 0 0 2 1 – 3
1st Period-1, Trois-Rivières, Gagnon 5 (Ducharme, Nellis), 17:59. Penalties-Brodeur Tr (delay of game), 18:44.
2nd Period-2, Trois-Rivières, Vanstone 4 0:42 (SH). Penalties-McGurty Wor (slashing), 3:47; Johnson Tr (tripping), 15:08; Vesey Wor (hooking), 17:25; Orysiuk Tr (holding), 19:18.
3rd Period-3, Worcester, Newton 3 (Smotherman, Coughlin), 14:23. 4, Worcester, Osmanski 5 (McCarthy, Balmas), 15:25. Penalties-Archambault Tr (slashing), 2:04; Nantel Tr (delay of game), 9:22; Brook Tr (high-sticking), 9:26; Coughlin Wor (tripping), 17:48.
1st OT Period-5, Worcester, Jandric 3 (Newton), 1:29. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Trois-Rivières 12-8-2-0-22. Worcester 17-5-14-2-38.
Power Play Opportunities-Trois-Rivières 0 / 3; Worcester 0 / 6.
Goalies-Trois-Rivières, Silovs 5-2-1-0 (38 shots-35 saves). Worcester, Appleby 13-11-0-1 (22 shots-20 saves).
Referees-Nolan Bloyer (31).
Linesmen-Evan Reddick (67), Sam Schildkraut (46).
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