The Worcester Railers opened their preseason slate Saturday night at Worcester Ice with a game against the Maine Mariners, and after sixty minutes the Railers found themselves on the wrong end of a 1-0 final.
The good news is the Worcester defense looks significantly better than last season. Despite allowing 25 shots the Railers team defense really limited Maine’s legitimate scoring chances, which took some pressure off goaltender Ken Appleby. The veteran netminder looked in mid-season form, making two or three high-quality saves, and showed he hasn’t lost his stellar rebound control.
The Mariners did hit two posts and a crossbar, but only one of those was from an angle where it could be said Worcester caught a break.
The offense is another story entirely, or perhaps more correctly, looked like the same old story. The Railers were credited with 15 shots on net, and virtually none of them tested Maine goaltender Brandon Bussi. Once again the Worcester faithful saw far too much passing and not enough shooting, and to add insult to injury the passing itself wasn’t very good.
Plus if new head coach Jordan Smotherman could tell his team you don’t need to tee the puck up to shoot it that would be nice too. Every moment you give the defense to react increases the chance your shot will be blocked. And Maine blocked many shots last night.
The one goal in the contest was scored by Mariners forward Nick Master at 9:49 of the middle period. The Railers say Master put in his own rebound, those that were watching near this writer thought it bounced in off Worcester defender Christian Evers. In the long run, it doesn’t matter, the red light went on and that was the eventual game-winner.
And if the Railers want to win games this season, they’ll need to put the red light on too.
Scratches for the Railers were Collin Adams, Trevor Cosgrove, Noah Delmas, Blade Jenkins, Connor McCarthy, Brent Moran, and Reece Newkirk. All were listed as healthy scratches. Henrik Tikkanen was the backup goaltender.
Before training camp started Railers fans were shocked to see Chris Ordoobadi listed as being released, as he was expected to bring some much-needed physicality to the team. Turns out Ordoobadi was injured in a workout, and after he’s healed, which is expected to take up to six weeks, he will likely be re-signed. Ordoobadi was seen at Worcester Ice Saturday night talking with fans and Railers front office people.
The posting of penalty times on the scoreboard at Worcester Ice turned into a story of its own, going from mildly humorous to outright annoying as the game progressed. Somehow the Railers opening penalty made it up correctly, but when Worcester’s Nolan Vesey and Maine’s Connor Doherty were assessed matching interference minors–we’ll ignore that wasn’t the correct penalty calls to make–they couldn’t get Vesey’s time up on the clock correctly. Despite the fact it was matching penalties so only one timer was really needed the game was delayed until it was fixed. When the timers hit zero the doors should have opened for both players to emerge, but play continued with both in the box. It seems the scorer at the penalty boxes had them each serving four-minute minors.
The next penalty was to Nick Master for delay of game at 17:35 of the opening frame. Once again the penalty time went up incorrectly. Eventually, they just took the penalty time off the clock as longtime Worcester penalty box attendant Dave Wilson knows how to do the math, opening the door when the game clock showed 25 seconds left in the frame. Every penalty from that point on until Jack Quinlivan’s boarding minor in the third period had some sort of clock malfunction, including, again, matching penalties where only one clock was really needed.
The view this writer and the team and league stats staff had Saturday night could best be called “obstructed view” at Worcester Ice. It’s impossible to see anything that happens on the near side of the ice because of how the seating is arranged. Now add that the Railers jerseys didn’t have shoulder numbers or nameplates on the back and you have a recipe for a stressful night for the usually well-oiled machine the stats guys are.
One other amusing hiccup for the night, hardly worth noting but as not much else happened during the game we’ll include it, was the staff at Worcester Ice changed the nets after the first intermission. During warmups and the first period, both nets were older and obviously well-used. A few seconds into the middle frame both Dylan “WooHockeyNews” Schofield and I noticed the nets had changed. Railers Booster Club president Rich Lundin, who was watching the game with us, concurred. Net switching is something that happens at the DCU Center all the time; the old “practice” nets are used for any on-ice event before the Railers and their opponents warm up, and the “gamers” are used for the pro teams. I guess the people at Worcester Ice missed that in the memo.
The three stars of the game were:
There were no three stars announced, so we’ll go with…
1) MNE – #10 Nick Master
2) WOR – #35 Ken Appleby
3) MNE – #40 Brandon Bussi
The 210Sports Player of the Game was Ken Appleby
Even Strength Lines
Vesey / Beaudoin / Repaci
Butler / Coughlin / Christensen
Jandric / Ryan / Bross
Rigali / Quinlivan / Price
Breen / McGurty
Brandt / Reagan
Evers / Beaulieu
In the North Division
Adirondack 4, Reading 1 (preseason)
Our affiliates last night
St Louis 5, Columbus 2
Bridgeport 3, Springfield 2
Maine 0 1 0 – 1
Worcester 0 0 0 – 0
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Breen Wor (interference), 0:37; Doherty Mne (interference), 4:54; Vesey Wor (interference), 4:54; Master Mne (delay of game), 17:35.
2nd Period-1, Maine, Master 1 (Fossier), 9:49. Penalties-Doherty Mne (roughing), 7:57; Coughlin Wor (roughing), 7:57; Repaci Wor (holding), 13:55.
3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Doherty Mne (slashing), 5:59; Quinlivan Wor (boarding), 9:24; Butler Wor (hooking), 12:42; Evers Wor (slashing), 17:12.
Shots on Goal-Maine 5-12-8-25. Worcester 7-2-6-15.
Power Play Opportunities-Maine 0 / 5; Worcester 0 / 2.
Goalies-Maine, Bussi 1-0-0-0 (15 shots-15 saves). Worcester, Appleby 0-1-0-0 (25 shots-24 saves).
Referees-Austin O’Rourke (10).
Linesmen-Matthew Heinen (93), Stephen Drain (52).
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