The Worcester Railers began their post-ECHL All-Star Game schedule by playing their fourth game in a row against the Newfoundland Growlers, and like the first three at the Mary Brown’s Centre on The Rock Worcester once again couldn’t find the win column as they dropped a 3-2 contest Friday night at the DCU Center.
In the Railers’ first nine games of the season, they averaged an ECHL-best 4.8 goals per game. But in the 29 games since, they’re scoring just 3.1 goals per contest, which would be 17th in the league. With four days to look at his roster and make changes, Railers General Manager Jordan Smotherman chose to stand pat with what he had despite some on the roster not being able to find the net without the help of GPS.
There are plenty of players out there that can’t possibly do any worse, and we are absolutely at the point where a roster shakeup is needed.
Newfoundland got on the board first, right after Myles McGurty was stoned on a breakaway bid by Growlers netminder Dryden McKay, which this writer mentions only because he’s likely never used those words in that order before. In the Worcester end and with Newfoundland controlling the puck on the outside Keenan Suthers pushed Brent Beaudoin away from the front of the net. Beaudoin offered zero resistance and skated away. Brennan Kapcheck then fired from the point, and with no one marking Suthers, he grabbed the rebound and tucked it in around Worcester netminder Ken Appleby.
The Railers then broke one of hockey’s cardinal rules by allowing a goal in the final minute of a period when three different forwards forgot they were supposed to backcheck. Pavel Gogolev took an entry pass and was forced wide to the near side by Jared Brandt. At the far post, McGurty attempted to prevent a centering feed from behind the net. Textbook defense from the pair. Only Liam Coughlin, Blake Christensen, and Nolan Vesey didn’t pick up any of the Growlers’ players in the defensive zone. That left Nolan Walker behind the pair of defensemen all alone, and then the puck was in the net with 27.5 seconds remaining in the frame.
The Growlers made it 3-0 at 2:46 of the middle frame when, once again, no Worcester forward covered an oncoming Newfoundland forward, and a wide-open Todd Skirving beat Appleby from between the circles.
Late in the second period, after Worcester missed about a half-dozen golden chances to get on the board, Beaudoin got an “excuse me” goal to make it 3-1.
With time winding down and Appleby off for an extra attacker, Bobby Butler closed the gap to 3-2.
But after that Worcester couldn’t get the puck back into the Newfoundland zone as the final horn sounded and another one was added to the ever-increasing loss column.
Scratches for the Railers were Collin Adams, Phil Beaulieu (IR/unknown), Connor McCarthy, Brent Moran, and Jack Quinlivan (IR/unknown). Henrik Tikkanen was the backup goaltender.
There was a slew of transactions since the All-Star break, with Worcester once again releasing Derek Osik and surprisingly cutting defenseman Jake Schultz loose. Jordan Kaplan, who was claimed off waivers while the team was in Newfoundland, has been suspended by Worcester to retain his player right as he heads off to Europe. Trevor Cosgrove was assigned to the Railers by Bridgeport, and Ken Appleby was sent down to Worcester by the NY Islanders. With Appleby on the team, the Railers now have three goaltenders on the roster.
You wouldn’t think a fill-in FPHL defender getting cut would raise the ire of the fan base, but the release of Schultz has caused a bit of a ruckus. Even the most casual of fans can see the Railers badly need a shutdown defenseman, and Schultz appeared to be that guy before being moved up to forward as the flu went through the team. Even playing up front Schultz looked good, shining a pretty big light on how poorly a couple of the forwards on this team are playing. The Kaplan suspension makes the Railers not suspending Jeff Solow look even odder. Hopefully more on that later.
Trevor Cosgrove wore his third different number with the club Friday night, tying the franchise record. He started the season in #20, and with Artur Terchiyev in that jersey when Cosgrove was sent down New Year’s Eve Cosgrove was given the #44 sweater. That jersey was Schultz’s, or at least it was his until he was released, so Cosgrove was given #10, which last belonged to the thrice-departed Derek Osik. Cosgrove is the fifth Railers player to wear three different numbers with the team, joining Jared Brandt (5,25,26), Ryan MacKinnon (4,10,24), Ian Milosz (31,35,39), and Yanick Turcotte (20,42,51). The Worcester pro record for wearing the most different numbers is four, held by Brent Johnson (1,30,31,35), Scott Roche (1,29,30,34), and Derek Joslin (6,24,25,36). To complete the record, two of Milosz’s numbers and one of Roche’s were worn just sitting on the bench as the backup goaltender. Cosgrove and Milosz both wore their three different numbers in the same season, which is the Railers franchise mark.
Over on LFG Railers voting took place on last week’s Railers Player of the Week, and newcomer Nick Fea was a runaway winner with almost 80% of the votes cast. Linemate Quin Ryan was a distant second, with Jake Schultz and Zack Bross being the other two finalists.
The ECHL All-Star game was held Monday, with the league using some sort of odd format that ended up having the losers of the semi-finals playing for the three-on-three championship. The Destroyers, a team featuring half of the host Norfolk Admirals, defeated the Western Conference 2-0 in the championship game. Railers forward Collin Adams played for the Eastern Conference, scoring a goal and an assist in the round-robin tourney. Former Worcester forward Max Newton was his teammate, notching an assist. The Western Conference team featured two former Railers, Lincoln Griffin (two assists) and Eddie Matsushima (two goals).
The three stars of the game were:
1. NFL – 30 Dryden McKay
2. NFL – 25 Nolan Walker
3. WOR – 12 Brent Beaudoin
The 210Sports Player of the Game was Bobby Butler.
Even Strength Lines
Repaci / Newkirk / Butler
Fea / Beaudoin / Ryan
Vesey / Coughlin / Christensen
X / Jerry / Bross
Evers / McGurty
Cosgrove / Delmas
Trechiyev / Brandt
Newfoundland 2 1 0 – 3
Worcester 0 1 1 – 2
1st Period-1, Newfoundland, Suthers 9 (Kapcheck, Badini), 16:17. 2, Newfoundland, Walker 9 (Gogolev), 19:32. Penalties-Beaudoin Wor (high-sticking), 5:10; Suthers Nfl (high-sticking), 6:12; Suthers Nfl (hooking), 11:07.
2nd Period-3, Newfoundland, Skirving 16 (Plouffe, Kruse), 2:46. 4, Worcester, Beaudoin 11 (Fea), 16:39. Penalties-Gogolev Nfl (interference), 5:39; Newkirk Wor (hooking), 12:33; Gogolev Nfl (hooking), 16:39; Butler Wor (tripping), 19:03.
3rd Period-5, Worcester, Butler 14 (Newkirk), 18:39. Penalties-Suthers Nfl (tripping), 2:56; Appleby Wor (interference), 3:28; McGurty Wor (closing hand on puck), 12:28; Butler Wor (hooking), 15:06.
Shots on Goal-Newfoundland 16-10-11-37. Worcester 14-10-11-35.
Power Play Opportunities-Newfoundland 0 / 6; Worcester 0 / 5.
Goalies-Newfoundland, McKay 8-4-1-0 (35 shots-33 saves). Worcester, Appleby 9-4-1-0 (37 shots-34 saves).
Referees-Yannick Jobin-Manseau (30), John Lindner (6).
Linesmen-Sam Schildkraut (46), Nathan Frechette (49).
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