Nine is fine; Railers 5-3 victory over Norfolk sets ECHL record

The Worcester Railers played some morning hockey against the Norfolk Admirals at the DCU Center Tuesday during the team’s Public School Day Game, and with the Railers 5-3 victory they set a new ECHL record for most wins to start a season with nine. The nine wins in a row also set the Worcester pro hockey record.

One of the common threads of the Railers’ winning streak was getting out of the gates quickly, so of course in a game where they could set a new league mark they give up a goal on the first shot they face. After an icing call Norfolk won the ensuing faceoff, where eventually Kenny Hausinger jumped on a loose puck in front to beat Worcester netminder Henrik Tikkanen at 5:09 of the opening frame.

It was the captain Bobby Butler who grabbed the equalizer, as he picked a good time to score his first home goal since last season. With the assist, Quin Ryan notched his sixth point in seven games

The Railers would grab a 2-1 lead at 3:15 of the middle stanza when Myles McGurty hit Blake Christensen with a long diagonal cross-ice pass to set up a three-on-two entry into the Norfolk zone. Christensen then backhand flipped it to Jimmy Lambert rushing down the center, and his absolute laser of a wrist shot from about 30 feet out beat Admirals’ goaltender Cale Morris low to the glove side.

Norfolk would make it 2-2 at 11:23 of the period on some very nice transitional hockey. Worcester had numbers in the Admirals’ zone, but a bouncing puck was collected by Norfolk and they headed back the other way on a three-on-one. Joe Widmar would keep it the whole way, beating Tikkanen low to the stick side.

In a 2-2 game heading to the third period the next goal would be big, and it was Jacob Hayhurst that was the one to light the lamp, sending the 5,000 screaming school kids into a frenzy at 1:59. With referee Casey Terreri’s arm up to call a high-sticking penalty, Worcester worked the puck into the zone, with Phil Beaulieu eventually throwing a backhand pass toward Lambert in the slot. He saw Hayhurst streaking toward the far post, and his pass was tape to tape as Hayhurst deflected it in.

While it’s not currently listed as such Hayhurst’s goal on the delayed penalty should be an extra-attacker goal. Even though Liam Coughlin hadn’t made it into the play yet he was on the ice, giving Worcester six skaters. Coughlin should also get a “plus” on the play.

Reece Newkirk gave his team a little breathing room with a “right place, right time” goal at 5:06 when Collin Adams and Blade Jenkins were both fighting for a loose puck behind the Norfolk net. Suddenly the puck squirted out right to Newkirk’s stick, and his quick snapshot from under ten feet beat Morris high to the glove side.

Less than a minute later the Admirals would could Worcester’s lead to a single goal on a power play tally. With Lambert off for an NHL-level tripping minor former WorSharks defenseman Nick Schaus blasted one from the point that Tikkanen made the save on, but the puck bounded up in the air where Tag Bertuzzi batted it out of the air and in.

Hayhurst would get Worcester’s two-goal lead back with a nice unassisted tally at 11:15 after the Railers had hemmed Norfolk in their own zone. On a couple of occasions where the Admirals looked to have a chance to control the Railers’ pressure would give them the puck back. It was one of those plays right in front that Hayhurst took advantage of, and Morris had no chance.

Kind of like Norfolk all this weekend…

Scratches for the Railers were Connor Breen (IR/undisclosed), Brent Beaudoin, Zack Bross (IR/undisclosed), Noah Delmas, Jack Quinlivan (IR/undisclosed), and Nolan Vesey. Ken Appleby was the backup goaltender. Prior to the start of the game, Ryan MacKinnon was recalled to the Bridgeport Islanders. He might be there a while as he’s one of just three right-shooting defensemen currently on the roster.

A scoring change to report, add an assist to Myles McGurty on Jacob Hayhurst’s opening goal Saturday. The Railers stats staff is pretty good at getting the assists correct the first time around, but from their vantage point, there was no way to see that McGurty’s keep-in not only wasn’t controlled by an Admirals player but also went untouched to Jimmy Lambert’s stick. That assist gives McGurty six helpers in seven games. It took him over 40 games last season to reach six assists.

Collin Adams joined an elite Railers club Sunday with his second-period goal. That gave him a goal in all four periods of play, the first Worcester player to do that this season and just the tenth Railers player to accomplish the feat in a single season. No player has ever done it twice, but Anthony Repaci has a chance this season.

With Monday being an off day for both teams there being big news happening on that day seemed remote, but after a 1-7 start the Norfolk Admirals made a coaching change, with assistant coach Jeff Carr taking over for the departing Rod Taylor. The press release said Taylor “is leaving his position as head coach”, leaving the situation blurred enough that it’s hard to tell if he stepped away or was fired. It’s probably easy to guess which it was.

With the ECHL using an unbalanced schedule these past three games were the only time fans will see the Norfolk Admirals at the DCU Center this season, barring both clubs making it to the postseason. Worcester will travel to the Norfolk Scope twice this campaign for five total games, three over Thanksgiving and two just before Presidents’ Day.

The three stars of the game were:
1. WOR – 16 Jacob Hayhurst
2. NOR – 11 Joe Widmar
3. WOR – 23 Jimmy Lambert

The 210Sports Player of the Game was Blade Jenkins.

Even Strength Lines (unofficial, hard to tell from the video)
Jandric / Coughlin / Butler
Hayhurst / Lambert / Repaci
Jenkins / Adams / Newkirk
Ryan / x / Christensen

Evers / McGurty
Brandt / McCarthy
Cosgrove / Beaulieu

Our affiliates last night
NY Islanders 4, Calgary 3 (OT)
Boston 3, St. Louis 1

In the ECHL’s North Divison
No games scheduled

Norfolk 1 1 1 – 3
Worcester 1 1 3 – 5

1st Period-1, Norfolk, Hausinger 1 (Milan, Smith), 5:09. 2, Worcester, Butler 4 (Ryan, Coughlin), 10:32 (PP). Penalties-Hausinger Nor (slashing), 9:21; Katic Nor (slashing), 12:50.

2nd Period-3, Worcester, Lambert 3 (Christensen, McGurty), 3:15. 4, Norfolk, Widmar 4 (Williams, Bertuzzi), 11:23. Penalties-Evers Wor (slashing), 0:25; Schaus Nor (roughing), 8:56; Van Os Nor (high-sticking), 14:33; Thow Nor (cross-checking), 16:43.

3rd Period-5, Worcester, Hayhurst 3 (Lambert, Repaci), 1:59. 6, Worcester, Newkirk 4 (Jenkins, Adams), 5:06. 7, Norfolk, Bertuzzi 3 (Widmar, Schaus), 5:53 (PP). 8, Worcester, Hayhurst 4 11:15. Penalties-Burgess Nor (high-sticking), 1:59; Lambert Wor (tripping), 5:22; Lambert Wor (slashing), 7:55; Butler Wor (slashing), 14:28; Katic Nor (boarding), 17:08.

Shots on Goal-Norfolk 7-10-9-26. Worcester 10-10-11-31.
Power Play Opportunities-Norfolk 1 / 4; Worcester 1 / 7.
Goalies-Norfolk, Morris 1-5-0-0 (31 shots-26 saves). Worcester, Tikkanen 4-0-0-0 (26 shots-23 saves).
Referees-Casey Terreri (14).
Linesmen-Matthew Heinen (93), Robert Griffin (53).

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