Moran’s 31 saves lifts Railers to 3-2 win over Reading

It was a rematch Saturday night as the Worcester Railers and Reading Royals took to the ice in the back half of their home and home series and using some solid team defense and behind Brent Moran’s 31 saves the Railers once again skated away with two points in a 3-2 win over the Royals at the Santander Arena.

As this writer mentioned on Twitter last night, you wouldn’t think a game with 63 shots and five goals would be a game about defense and goaltending, but Saturday night was absolutely about those two things. A huge percentage of those 63 shots came from outside where the netminders weren’t screened or came from in close by well-marked attackers. When players did get great attempts, Moran and Reading netminder Nolan Maier were both making some incredible saves on those rare occasions.

The Railers have never had good luck playing in Reading, going a woeful 4-11-1-1 over the last five years in the Keystone State, and Saturday started off like it was going to be another long night as Worcester found themselves down 2-0 heading toward the end of the opening period on goals by Charlie Gerard at 14:04 and former Railers forward Devon Paliani at 15:32.

All season long Worcester has had issues allowing goals in the first and last minutes of periods, but Quin Ryan was finally able to turn the tide with a late-period power play goal to make it just a 2-1 deficit after twenty minutes.

Early in the second period, Anthony Repaci would knot the game 2-2 when he tried to center the puck from behind the Reading net and it hit Maier and went in.

Watching the action live it appeared that the Railers were lucky that offside isn’t reviewable in the ECHL as Bobby Butler’s pass along the blue line to Christian Evers looked to bounce just outside the zone before Evers received it and brought it back onto the blue line, but a look at the video this morning is inconclusive even at the slowest speed available, so that goal likely would have stood anyway.

It was still tied into the third period, and after big saves from both Maier and Moran in the stanza defenseman MacKinnon made his presence felt in the offensive zone.

In the three previous games between these squads, Reading had scored three extra attacker goals, so Worcester fans tuning in on FloHockey and on the radio were rightly a bit nervous as time was winding down. But Saturday night was different as the Railers surrendered just a single shot on goal, a long attempt by Gerard on an unscreened Moran, as Worcester extended their modest winning streak to three games.

Scratches for the Railers were Ken Appleby (injured), Phil Beaulieu (IR/unknown), Jared Brandt, Zack Bross, Noah Delmas (IR/unknown), Jack Quinlivan (IR/unknown), and Nolan Vesey. Austin Cain was the backup goaltender. On Bridgeport’s way to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, they dropped defenseman Ryan MacKinnon off in Reading. That may have been because three of Worcester’s blueliners got banged up in Friday’s win and a fourth was added to IR. Oddly, the one that looked to be the least injured, Brandt, was the one added to reserve as both Myles McGurty and Christain Evers played Saturday, with Evers using a full face shield. We’ll soon see if MacKinnon’s game with the Railers was a one-off or if this stint here is a bit longer.

In the game on Saturday MacKinnon donned the now-popular #44 jerseys, previously worn this season by Steven Jandric, Jake Schultz, and Trevor Cosgrove. That was MacKinnon’s fourth different number with the Railers, a franchise record. He previously wore #4, #10, and #24 with Worcester. The four different numbers also tie the city pro mark with the IceCats Brent Johnson (1,30,31,35) and Scott Roche (1,29,30,34), and the WorSharks Derek Joslin (6,24,25,36).

Saturday afternoon Bill Ballou confirmed that Trevor Cosgrove’s five-point night was indeed a Railers franchise record. He then added a couple things this writer already knew and had shared before, with the last Worcester pro player earning a five-point night being Matt Nieto of the WorSharks on December 6, 2013. Nieto, just recently traded from San Jose to Colorado, was also credited with two goals and three assists in the contest against the Portland Pirates at the DCU Center. That 8-3 win is notable as being the only multi-point game in Jimmy Bonneau’s AHL career. The city pro record is six points by Jim Campbell on December 28, 1999. Campell had a first-period goal and two in the middle stanza for the hat trick against the Saint John Flames at Worcester’s Centrum Centre. He also assisted on goals by Sylvain Blouin and Peter Smrek in the opening session, then set up Ladislav Nagy’s goal five minutes into the second.

Hopefully, Worcester fans know how good we have it with Mike Myers designing the specialty jerseys the Railers use. Every single one he designs is outstanding, to the point where when Worcester was going to wear an “ugly sweater” Christmas jersey in 2018-19 Myers couldn’t make them the stereotypical ugly sweater that’s now trendy at Christmas, once quipping, “I couldn’t do it, no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t make them ugly”. This is important because Saturday was “Affiliation Night” in Reading where the Royals wore Philadelphia Flyers orange colored jerseys, and these jerseys were ugly. They could have done so much more with them, and wow, what they did was not good.

Looks like there was some fun and games last night at the Trois-Rivieres/Adirondack matchup in Glens Falls last night as former Worcester Railers defenseman Ivan Chukarov earned himself a match penalty for fighting. It was for rule 46.15, which is either fighting with tape on your hands or throwing a sucker punch. Looking at the video you can see Chukarov throwing a ton of gloved punches at several Lions players, which is a no-no. The video also shows Trois-Rivieres forward Chad Pietroniro throwing a gloved punch at former Railers defenseman Grant Jozefek, which referee Austin O’Rourke didn’t call. I suspect the ECHL Player Safety Department will be having a look at that whole situation.

The three stars of the game were:
1. WOR – 44 Ryan MacKinnon
2. WOR – 81 Anthony Repaci
3. REA – 9 Charlie Gerard

The 210Sports Player of the Game was Brent Moran.

Even Strength Lines
Bakanov / Newkirk / Butler
Fea / Adams / Ryan
Christensen / Beaudoin / Repaci
X / Coughlin / Jerry

Evers / McCarthy
Cosgrove / McGurty
Terchiyev / Mackinnon

Our affiliates last night
NY Islanders 2, Vegas 1 (OT)
Colorado 4, St. Louis 2
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 3, Bridgeport 1
Springfield 6, Bellville 1

In the ECHL’s North Division
Newfoundland 3, Cincinnati 1
Adirondack 5, Trois-Rivieres 3
Maine 6, Norfolk 2

North Division Standings
Newfoundland 61 (.744)
Reading 52 (.667)
Maine 48 (.649)
Worcester 47 (.560)
Trois-Rivieres 32 (.400)
Adirondack 32 (.421)
Norfolk 17 (.213)

Worcester 1 1 1 – 3
Reading 2 0 0 – 2

1st Period-1, Reading, Gerard 18 (Sellar), 14:04. 2, Reading, Paliani 6 (Felix, Hoffmann), 15:32. 3, Worcester, Ryan 12 (Adams, MacKinnon), 19:08 (PP). Penalties-Gerard Rea (slashing), 3:52; Butler Wor (hooking), 10:18; Millman Rea (tripping), 17:42.

2nd Period-4, Worcester, Repaci 8 (Cosgrove, Evers), 2:57. Penalties-Newton Rea (slashing), 0:52; McCarthy Wor (cross-checking), 6:13; Newton Rea (high-sticking), 6:26.

3rd Period-5, Worcester, MacKinnon 2 (Newkirk, Bakanov), 11:29. Penalties-Jerry Wor (fighting – major), 15:38; Felix Rea (fighting – major), 15:38.

Shots on Goal-Worcester 11-12-7-30. Reading 11-14-8-33.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 1 / 4; Reading 0 / 2.
Goalies-Worcester, Moran 2-2-0-0 (33 shots-31 saves). Reading, Maier 11-5-2-0 (30 shots-27 saves).
Referees-Steven Sailor (5).
Linesmen-Noah Merrow (57), Rich Jondo (75).

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