The Worcester Railers faced-off against the Adirondack Thunder for the fifth time in eleven days, and had this been a playoff series the Railers would have been eliminated as they lost 3-1 at the DCU Center Saturday night for their fourth loss to their ECHL North Division rivals in the last two weeks.
It would have been easy to mistake Saturday night’s contest for an actual playoff game, as both teams went into the match-up badly needing the two points and each played as if their entire season depended on it. Because in the long run, it probably did. And like just about every other crucial playoff moment in the city’s pro hockey history, Worcester lost.
The Railers controlled play for most of the game, but as has been the case a lot lately that didn’t translate to the score sheet. To be honest, that’s happened a lot to Worcester teams over the last 25 seasons too.
Adirondack got on the board first with a power play goal at 5:04 of the opening period by Sebastian Vidmar. Even though Anthony Repaci is out of position a bit and thus couldn’t stop the cross-ice pass, this is a save that Henrick Tikkanen absolutely has to make.
Matt Jennings made it 2-0 Thunder at 18:55 when Railers defenseman Trevor Cosgrove completely lost track of the Thunder forward, and then the flat-footed Cosgrove essentially did nothing to stop Jennings. And while breakaways are usually a 50-50 play, this is another save you could argue Tikkanen has to make.
In the second period, Worcester outshot the Thunder 22-3 but could only get one past Adirondack netminder Isaac Poulter.
It’s hard to imagine a team that had just put up 22 shots in the previous period and was fighting for their playoff lives would only put up four shots in the final frame, but for those new here, welcome to the 2022-2023 Worcester Railers. Worcester didn’t have a shot on goal for the frame’s first 7:06 and didn’t have one over the game’s final 8:45. Not exactly a recipe for success.
All Travis Broughman’s empty net goal did was add a few minuses to the scoresheet and allow the fans to start exiting the arena ten seconds early.
Scratches for the Railers were Philip Beaulieu (upper body), Ryan DaSilva (travel), Christain Evers (IR/unknown), Max Johnson (IR/unknown), Connor McCarthy, Chris Ordoobadi (IR/upper body), Jack Quinlivan (IR/unknown), and Quin Ryan (IR/unknown). Ken Appleby was the backup goaltender.
With Ryan DaSilva being added to the Railers roster they needed to create an opening, so once again they released Conor Breen. It perhaps speaks volumes that some fans were upset that the hard-working Breen was released as opposed to some of the underperforming Worcester contracted players that seem to be written in stone on the roster. Despite him not having the overall talent level that other defensemen on the roster have it wouldn’t be hard to point out some of the players Breen outworked on the ice, with Breen’s consistent play being far more reliable than the wildly erratic play of some of the other blueliners. Talent evaluation is one of the major areas general manager Jordan Smotherman needs to massively improve at in the upcoming weeks as rosters for next season begin forming.
There was one other pregame transaction as Bridgeport recalled forward Reece Newkirk and assigned defenseman Trevor Cosgrove to Worcester. This is where this writer usually mentions what Newkirk did last night in the AHL-Islanders game in Providence, so it shall be reported that he sat in the stands at the Amica Mutual Pavilion (née Dunkin Donuts Center) as opposed to playing in the Railers “must-win” game. He perhaps was sitting next to Ryan MacKinnon, who also could have helped Worcester as opposed to enjoying the arena’s culinary delights.
Perhaps the oddest stat from Saturday night’s game were the two forwards that didn’t register a shot on goal for Worcester: Bobby Butler and Anthony Repaci. Both have had games where they didn’t have one this season, and it’s usually pretty apparent in those games that they aren’t playing well. But both Butler and Repaci played well Saturday and were on the ice a lot, were heavily involved in the play, and generated a scoring chance for their linemates almost every shift they were out there. Just to complete the record, defenseman Josh Victor also didn’t have a shot on goal.
The Railers were supposed to be wearing military-themed jerseys for their Military Appreciation Night, but due to a “production error” by the manufacturer, those jerseys were not available. While not officially announced, it seems that next Saturday’s specialty jerseys honoring “Worcester Hockey History” will also not be available. Those jerseys, which were to be auctioned off during the game and then given to the winners on-ice after the game, will be replaced by an as-of-yet-announced event.
According to a tweet sent Saturday afternoon, Vinnie Purpura, the Adirondack goaltender who was injured Friday night, was released from the hospital and was going to be returning to Glens Falls with the team and will continue to be monitored by their medical team. There’s finally some clarity as to what happened as the video of the incident doesn’t show much. According to witnesses who were standing near the visitor’s door, Andrei Bakanov and Purpura’s skates banged together as Bakanov chased a loose puck. That caused Purpura to fall, where he hit his head on the ice and was briefly knocked unconscious.
The three stars of the game were
1. ADK – 1 Isaac Poulter
2. ADK – 14 Matt Jennings
3. WOR – 11 Nolan Vesey
The 210Sports Player of the Game was Steve Jandric.
Even Strength Lines
Bakanov / Beaudoin / Repaci
Jandric / Coughlin / Butler
Hayhurst / Callin / Vesey
X / Jerry / Goodsir
Brandt / McGurty
Victor / Cosgrove
Kulakov / Delmas
Our affiliates last night
Tampa Bay 5, NY Islanders 0
Nashville 6, St Louis 1
Bridgeport 5, Providence 2
Springfield 6, Charlott 5 OT
In the ECHL’s North Division
Newfoundland 3, Norfolk 0
Tulsa 4, Maine 2
Trois-Rivieres 3, Reading 1
North Division Standings
Team points (points percentage) games in hand vs Worcester
X-Newfoundland 92 (.687) 1
X-Reading 81 (.614) 2
X-Maine 77 (.592) 3
Worcester 70 (.515)
Adirondack 69 (.523) 2
Trois-Rivieres 53 (.417) 2
Norfolk 43 (.321) 1
Adirondack 2 0 1 – 3
Worcester 0 1 0 – 1
1st Period-1, Adirondack, Vidmar 11 (Harper, Orgel), 5:04 (PP). 2, Adirondack, Jennings 3 (Hallbauer), 18:55. Penalties-Vesey Wor (cross-checking), 4:23; Repaci Wor (hooking), 13:12; Goodsir Wor (tripping), 19:07; Orgel Adk (holding), 19:21.
2nd Period-3, Worcester, Vesey 12 (Coughlin, Jandric), 12:44 (PP). Penalties-Letourneau Adk (tripping), 12:30; Chukarov Adk (interference), 17:52.
3rd Period-4, Adirondack, Broughman 11 19:50 (EN). Penalties-Victor Wor (hooking), 4:06.
Shots on Goal-Adirondack 13-3-6-22. Worcester 7-22-4-33.
Power Play Opportunities-Adirondack 1 / 4; Worcester 1 / 3.
Goalies-Adirondack, Poulter 9-8-2-0 (33 shots-32 saves). Worcester, Tikkanen 17-16-3-0 (21 shots-19 saves).
Referees-John Lindner (6), Casey Terreri (14).
Linesmen-Sam Schildkraut (46), Brent Colby (77).
Got something you loved (or hated) about the post? Head on over to the 210Sports Facebook page and leave a comment. You could comment on this post too, but fair warning, the spam filter catches lots of stuff it shouldn’t and it might be weeks before we see your comment. While you’re there, give the page a like if you could.