Railers slowly sinking towards .500 with 3-1 loss to Greenville

The Worcester Railers continued on their six-game road trip with a Wednesday night contest at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina for a game against the Swamp Rabbits, and Worcester once again found themselves with a multiple-goal deficit they couldn’t make up in a 3-1 loss.

There are two things with the Railers that need to be fixed and done quickly or their tumble down the standings will find them once again out of the playoffs. One needs to be the abandonment of the “dump and chase”. The current group of players doesn’t win puck battles at all so all playing the dump and chase does is give up possession of the puck. You can’t score without the puck, and you can’t win if you don’t score.

The second is the penalty kill, which is next to last in the ECHL at 75%. You can win games without a great power play, but you can’t win them with a bad penalty kill. Luckily for Worcester, they’re the least penalized team in the ECHL or their penalty kill would have them blown out of games by the time the second period was over. Their lack of pressure on puck carriers while shorthanded is giving teams way too many chances, and eventually, the odds don’t work in your favor. It’s the same reason why the Railers give up so many extra attacker goals, no pressure on puck carriers.

The good news, if you can call it that, is it took until the second frame for the Railers to give up a goal in the first minute of a period. After a Ken Appleby save newcomer Max Johnson whiffed on a clearing attempt. Greenville forward Alex Ierullo grabbed the loose puck and fed Max Martin, whose blue-line one-timer beat Appleby at 1:00 of the middle frame. Tanner Eberle was given an unearned assist on the goal.

Greenville made it 2-0 at 8:08 after Worcester got caught standing around in their own zone, something they have found themselves doing for a lot of this season. Trevor Cosgrove twice failed to clear the puck out of the Worcester zone, and eventually, the puck ended up on the stick of Martin again. His shot deflected off the skate of Noah Delmas right to Ethan Somoza, who shot it into the yawning net.

Referee Tatu Kunto must have been seeing things when he called Conor Breen for holding at 8:51 because the video doesn’t show Breen committing anything close to an infraction. Breen did do a poor impression of a bullfighter on the play, but that’s hardly a penalty. The scoresheet says the penalty was served by Bobby Butler, who wasn’t on the ice during the play so it doesn’t seem like any penalty involving him happened off-screen.

In the long run, it doesn’t matter as Brett Kemp scored on the power play at 10:18 with no Railers player within 20 feet of him and two Swamp Rabbit teammates standing in front of Appleby.

Worcester’s lone goal of the contest came on the power play at 11:26 by Brent Beaudoin.

And that would be all the scoring as Worcester dropped to just two games over .500.

Scratches for the Railers were Collin Adams (IR/upper body), Zack Bross (IR/lower), Liam Coughlin (IR/unknown), Christain Evers (IR/unknown), Connor McCarthy, Myles McGurty, Jack Quinlivan (IR/unknown), Quin Ryan, and Nolan Vesey (IR/unknown). Prior to the game Bridgeport assigned Henrik Tikkanen to the Railers, and he was the backup netminder. Not needing three healthy goalies on the roster, Worcester released Brent Moran.

On Sunday Arnaud Durandeau became the first former Worcester Railers skater to be recalled to the NHL after playing for Worcester, and then became the first Worcester Railers player to appear in an NHL game after playing for the Railers on Monday when he suited up for the New York Islanders against the Pittsburgh Penguins. By all accounts, he acquitted himself well.

The first former Railers player to be recalled to the NHL was goaltender Eamon McAdam, who was summoned from the Newfoundland Growlers to sit on the bench for the Toronto Maple Leafs on October 15, 2018, when every Leafs netminder on the depth chart in front of him was injured. Until Wednesday afternoon it was generally accepted that the first player ever recalled to the NHL in Worcester pro hockey history was Les Kuntar, who was recalled from the Hershey Bears to the Philadelphia Flyers on May 5, 1995. Only it turns out that Jason Widmer played for the New York Islanders on May 2, 1995, against those same Flyers. There will need to be some discussions with Bill Ballou about this to get to the bottom of the issue. For the WorSharks, technically it’s Douglas Murray who was recalled first and appeared in an NHL game, but he was assigned to the WorSharks on a conditioning stint so he was never really supposed to be a “Worcester Shark” full-time. The first player who was recalled to San Jose due to his play here and played his first NHL game after playing for the WorSharks was Joe Pavelski.

As we did last week, we’ll mention a couple fundraisers going on. The first is the Worcester Railers Booster Club is holding a 50/50 raffle online during the Railers road trip to help raise funds to take care of the player’s apartments. If you’re a Massachusetts resident over the age of 18 you can purchase your tickets on the group’s 50/50 webpage. If you’re interested in making a donation to the club, you can visit their donation page.

The other is a cool one as the Worcester Fire Department’s hockey team is selling hockey jerseys to raise funds for their charitable activities. You can check out their selection right here. This writer has a black jersey, and the quality is amazingly good. The red and green can have a name added to the back, but not on the black as it has a flag in place of a nameplate. You can order jerseys through March 6th.

Now this is where this writer would normally post his hockey-free weekend was coming up and there wouldn’t be any posts until Sunday, but this season I’m trying something new and will attempt to cover the games of this upcoming weekend. The reason is I want to thumb my nose at the Worcester Telegram and show them it’s possible to actually cover a team, seeing as they seem to think that’s not possible. I have no idea what kind of posts will appear here this weekend, but there will be something.

The three stars of the game were:
1. GVL – 34 David Hrenak
2. GVL – 10 Max Martin
3. GVL – 16 Ethan Somoza

The 210Sports Player of the Game was Brant Beaudoin.

Even Strength Lines
Repaci / Beaudoin / Fea
Pappalardo / Johnson / Cosgrove
Bakanov / Jerry / Butler
Boutoussov / X / Ordoobadi

Faulkner / Beaulieu
Delmas / Victor
Brandt / Breen

Our affiliates last night
NY Islanders 2, Winnipeg 1
Hartford 5, Springfield 1

In the ECHL’s North Division
Idaho 3, Maine 1
Cincinnati 4, Norfolk 0
Newfoundland 6, Trois-Rivieres 1

North Division Standings
Team points (points percentage) games in hand vs Worcester
Newfoundland 73 (.730) 1
Maine 61 (.635) 3
Reading 59 (.615) 3
Worcester 53 (.520)
Adirondack 43 (.448) 3
Trois-Rivieres 40 (.400) 1
Norfolk 27 (.265) 0

Worcester 0 1 0 – 1
Greenville 0 3 0 – 3

1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Eberle Gvl (cross-checking), 9:13.

2nd Period-1, Greenville, Martin 8 (Ierullo, Eberle), 1:00. 2, Greenville, Somoza 14 (Martin, Cap), 8:08. 3, Greenville, Kemp 13 (Somoza, Martin), 10:18 (PP). 4, Worcester, Beaudoin 14 (Fea, Repaci), 11:26 (PP). Penalties-Grissom Gvl (hooking), 1:22; Breen Wor (holding), 8:51; Eberle Gvl (high-sticking), 11:13; Ierullo Gvl (delay of game), 14:51.

3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Beaulieu Wor (hooking), 2:23; McManus Gvl (hooking), 16:35.

Shots on Goal-Worcester 6-16-12-34. Greenville 9-10-7-26.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 1 / 5; Greenville 1 / 2.
Goalies-Worcester, Appleby 9-6-1-0 (26 shots-23 saves). Greenville, Hrenak 14-10-3-0 (34 shots-33 saves).
Referees-Tatu Kunto (17).
Linesmen-Brady Fagan (89), Brandon Grillo (81).

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