The Worcester Railers hosted the Reading Royals Friday night at the DCU Center in their first home contest of the new year and held a 4-2 lead with under two and a half minutes to go, only to stand around and watch it disappear before losing 5-4 in overtime. It was their eighth consecutive loss to their ECHL North Division rivals.
It’s become painfully obvious that the current edition of the Railers is what this team truly is. The record-breaking season-opening winning streak is long gone and using even the rosiest of colored glasses it’s clear that those games were the aberration, and trying to recapture the team’s early season success with its current lineup is doomed to fail.
Every ECHL team deals with recalls, injuries, and players missing for other various reasons. Worcester has completely failed at it. They have made zero trades. They haven’t been able to claim anyone off waivers. The best signing they’ve made during the season is Jeff Solow. When your best signing is a 5/6 defender, you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you.
And the Railers certainly have a lot of work to do.
As we look at the actual game, Reading took a 1-0 lead at 8:06 of the opening period when Charlie Gerard converted on an odd-man rush. It stayed that way for over twenty minutes of action before Jared Brandt was able to pull his team back to even.
Just 48 seconds later the Railers would grab a 2-1 lead on a goal by Billy Jerry that, as you can tell by the video, was originally credited to Myles McGurty.
Reading would tie it on the power play with Max Newton’s first of the game, and it would stay 2-2 heading into the third period.
After letting pretty much everything go all game referee Austin O’Rourke somehow decided that the third stanza was the time to start calling ticky-tack penalties, but the Railers took advantage of one of their opportunities as Zack Bross picked up his first professional goal.
Worcester would get one more chance with the man advantage, and it was Nolan Vesey who lit the lamp to make it 4-2 with 2:25 remaining in regulation.
And that should have been it. Literally, nothing that happened after that should have happened.
But it did.
With the Railers essentially standing there while Reading skated with an extra attacker, Newton grabbed his second of the game at 18:13 to make it 4-3. Then as time was winding down and the Royals bench screaming for the six skaters on the ice Jordan Timmons scored with 8.5 seconds left in regulation to tie it.
Everyone in the house knew what was coming next, and it happened when Newton converted unassisted at 3:12 for the hat trick.
Scratches for the Railers were Phil Beaulieu (IR/unknown), Blake Christensen, Jack Quinlivan (IR/unknown), and Jeff Solow (ill). Bret Moran was the backup goaltender. Solow is listed on the game sheet but was not at the DCU Center. Also listed on the game sheet was the recently re-signed Derek Osik, but if he played at all it was a very small number of shifts. Christensen is either sick or injured as Worcester went with 16 skaters, and when asked why 210Sports was told every healthy player was in the line-up, which is a bit odd because Worcester is, at posting time, two under the roster maximum of 20 active players and two on the reserve list.
It was a busy week for transactions on Tuesday, with Andrei Bakanov being called up to the Thunderbirds and both Blade Jenkins and Trevor Cosgrove heading back to Bridgeport. Railers general manager Jordan Smotherman brought back both Conor Breen and Derek Osik during the week, but with Connor McCarthy being loaned back to Worcester on Friday Breen was released again. One transaction was mysteriously missing as Ken Appleby is still on the Bridgeport roster, and played against Springfield on Friday night. The AHL Islanders have three goalies on the roster, with Jakub Skarek and Cory Schneider also listed.
There was one other recall last week as Railers broadcaster Tim Foley was summoned to Total Mortgage Arena to do the Bridgeport play-by-play for Alan Fuehring, who was off to Vancouver to do the New York Islanders game. While it would be far more exciting to say Foley was kidnapped from Worcester and driven in a mysterious white van down to Bridgeport and forced to call the game at knifepoint, as you might expect the real story is a lot less interesting, with Foley being told about a week prior that he would be filling in. Foley reported no hiccups, noting the hardest part was just familiarizing himself with both rosters. Like players, broadcasters are always looking to move up, and you can bet Foley’s brief taste of AHL action will make him hungrier to get there full-time.
Over on LFG Railers the balloting for last week’s Railers’ Player of the Week was held, and Bobby Butler was a winner in a run away with 79% of the votes cast. Nolan Vesey, Anthony Repaci, and Noah Delmas were the other three finalists.
It’s very rare that this writer gets to correct former Worcester Telegram reporter Bill Ballou on anything related to Worcester pro hockey as he’s the only person who has more notes and information on the IceCats, WorSharks, and Railers than I do, but in his latest missive on MassLive concerning local connections to the Stanley Cup, while he not so shockingly had one person I didn’t know about, he missed six others. The one I was missing was Joel Farnsworth, the last IceCats equipment manager who held the same post for the St Louis Blues when they won the Cup. Ballou’s list missed six IceCats with Cup connections with Donald Dufresne, Gary Leeman, Darren Rumble, and Geoff Smith all making it as players and Todd Reirden and Marc Bergevin as executives. I brought the list over to Ballou and he took the info in stride, very happy to find out more than he knew before. Then a bunch of us hung around and listened to Ballou tell stories for twenty minutes. A win-win situation if there ever was one.
The three stars of the game were:
1. REA – 17 Max Newton
2. WOR – 11 Nolan Vesey
3. WOR – 37 Reece Newkirk
The 210Sports Player of the Game was Myles McGurty.
Even Strength Lines
Repaci / Coughlin / Vesey
Newkirk / Beaudoin / Butler
Bross / Jerry / Ryan
Brandt / McGurty
Delmas / McCarthy
Reading 1 1 2 1 – 5
Worcester 0 2 2 0 – 4
1st Period-1, Reading, Gerard 11 (Newton, Bradley), 8:06. Penalties-McFadden Rea (tripping), 13:19.
2nd Period-2, Worcester, Brandt 4 (Newkirk, Beaudoin), 8:50. 3, Worcester, Jerry 1 (McGurty, Ryan), 9:38. 4, Reading, Newton 16 (McFadden, Bradley), 13:20 (PP). Penalties-Butler Wor (hooking), 0:45; Gerard Rea (interference), 2:50; McFadden Rea (cross-checking), 10:18; Newkirk Wor (holding), 12:59; Paliani Rea (hooking), 15:47.
3rd Period-5, Worcester, Bross 1 (Newkirk, Terchiyev), 15:17 (PP). 6, Worcester, Vesey 10 (Repaci, Evers), 17:35 (PP). 7, Reading, Newton 17 (Bradley), 18:13. 8, Reading, Timmons 3 (Millman, McFadden), 19:51. Penalties-Jerry Wor (cross-checking), 2:29; Butcher Rea (high-sticking), 4:28; served by Ryan Wor (bench – too many men), 6:28; Gerard Rea (hooking), 13:28; Gerard Rea (misconduct), 15:17; Newton Rea (tripping), 16:30.
1st OT Period-9, Reading, Newton 18 3:12. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Reading 6-11-18-2-37. Worcester 9-9-6-0-24.
Power Play Opportunities-Reading 1 / 4; Worcester 2 / 7.
Goalies-Reading, Maier 7-2-1-0 (24 shots-20 saves). Worcester, Tikkanen 10-8-1-0 (37 shots-32 saves).
Referees-Austin O’Rourke (10).
Linesmen-Stephen Drain (52), Ryan Bradshaw (76).
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