The Worcester Railers and Reading Royals hooked up for the back half of their home and home series Saturday night at Santander Arena in the Keystone State, and it was more of the same as the Railers warm-body lineup continues to be unable to consistently compete in the ECHL in a 2-1 Railers loss.
Early on in the season, Worcester was the top dog in the ECHL as the best team in the league. As of Sunday morning, they might be listed as being in third place in the North Division with 40 points, but because every one of their rivals has multiple games in hand points percentage is the column to look at, where the Railers have tumbled to fourth in the standings. For the entire league, they’ve dropped from first to 13th. Since the 9-0 start, Worcester is 10-13-2.
The game itself was scoreless deep into the middle frame until a bad Railers defensive pairing line change sent Tyler Kirkup and Alec Butcher into the Worcester zone on a two-on-one break. Defender Jake Schultz played it well, forcing Kirkup to shoot by blocking the passing lane after the initial pass between the attacking forwards. Kirkup’s shot beat Henrik Tikkanen high to the stick side at 18:05.
Reading’s second goal, scored by Shane Sellar at 3:12 of the third period, should not have counted. A few seconds earlier a Butcher shot was deflected from in front of the Worcester net over the head of referee Steven Sailor and just into the protective netting at the end of the ice. It’s clear on the video the puck hits the netting. That should have resulted in a whistle, but play continued as none of the three officials on the ice noticed, and eventually Sellar beat Tikkanen to that same high stick side.
While that play would be reviewable in the NHL–presuming anyone would have known to do it–it isn’t reviewable in the ECHL.
Worcester didn’t give up, and Brent Beaudoin made it 2-1 at 5:23 after some nice tic-tac-toe passing gave him all 24-square feet to shoot at.
But that was as close as the Railers ragtag lineup could get them as they dropped their ninth consecutive contest to Reading.
Scratches for the Railers were Phil Beaulieu (IR/unknown), Blake Christensen (unknown), Jack Quinlivan (IR/unknown), and Jeff Solow (ill). Bret Moran was the backup goaltender. Being two players under the roster maximum the Railers brought back defenseman Jake Schultz from the FPHL’s Binghamton Black Bears. While Schultz puts up points in the FPHL he’s really a solid defense-first defender in the ECHL, and really deserves a longer look-see considering Worcester really needs that type of player on the back end. The Railers ended up going with ten forwards and seven defensemen.
Longtime readers will know this writer’s biggest complaint is there aren’t enough games where both teams wear their color jerseys, and Saturday night was one where it worked perfectly with the Royals wearing dark Star Wars/Mandalorian-themed jerseys and Worcester donning their orange fifth-anniversary sweaters. To be blunt, it would have worked perfectly Friday night with Reading wearing their usual purple roadies too. Every North Division game could be color vs color for Worcester, with their orange jerseys working well against every team’s colors except maybe Adirondack’s primary red color sweaters. In that case, the Railers could just wear their blues. Glad we could solve that problem.
The ECHL will likely be handing out an automatic one-game suspension to Christain Evers for his instigator minor at 15:38 of the third period as he went after Reading’s Brendan Hoffmann after Hoffmann had elbowed Bobby Butler in the head, sending the Railers captain to the ice. In addition to the game off Evers gets, in the very short fight he got beat up for his troubles. Butler ended up not missing a shift. Unless something odd happens, and let’s be honest, this is the ECHL, Hoffmann shouldn’t be seeing a suspension for the elbow.
For the second game in a row, we’re going to mention Railers broadcaster Tim Foley because doing play-by-play from Santander Arena is not an easy thing to do as his broadcast position is the opposite of what the camera feed shows on FloHockey. It used to also be tough because the video production was the absolute worst in the ECHL, but on Saturday night it was very good, excepting the end of the game where they superimposed video of the Railers’ empty net in the lower left of the screen. Accidental or intentional, it was an eyesore. As this writer types this out it’s possible the then-named Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland had the same issues with camera positions before its renovation in 2014. Might need to reach out to former Maine Hockey Journal owner Chris Roy on that one.
The three stars of the game were:
1. REA – 16 Shane Sellar
2. REA – 11 Alec Butcher
3. REA – 27 Garrett McFadden
The 210Sports Player of the Game was Brent Beaudoin.
Even Strength Lines
Repaci / Coughlin / Vesey
Newkirk / Beaudoin / Butler
Ryan / Jerry / Bross
Brandt / McGurty
Evers / McCarthy
Terchiyev / Delmas
Worcester 0 0 1 – 1
Reading 0 1 1 – 2
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Sellar Rea (hooking), 15:30.
2nd Period-1, Reading, Kirkup 4 (Butcher, Sellar), 18:05. Penalties-Bross Wor (roughing), 4:41; Bradley Rea (roughing), 4:41.
3rd Period-2, Reading, Sellar 8 (McFadden, Butcher), 3:12. 3, Worcester, Beaudoin 9 (Newkirk, Butler), 5:23. Penalties-Evers Wor (instigating, fighting – major, game misconduct – instigator in final 5 minutes or ot), 15:28; Hoffmann Rea (elbowing, fighting – major), 15:28.
Shots on Goal-Worcester 9-12-8-29. Reading 9-16-9-34.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 0 / 1; Reading 0 / 0.
Goalies-Worcester, Tikkanen 10-9-1-0 (34 shots-32 saves). Reading, Maier 8-2-1-0 (29 shots-28 saves).
Referees-Steven Sailor (5).
Linesmen-Rich Jondo (75), Nicholas Gutekunst (79).
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