Stingrays Best Railers 3-1 on Star Wars Night
By Bill BallouWORCESTER – The Railers lost to South Carolina on Saturday night, 3-1, before a big crowd of 5,872 on Star Wars Night. It was 3-0 before Reece Newkirk got Worcester’s only goal at 18:18 of the third period. That goal came with Henrik Tikkanen on the bench, 58 seconds after Jonny Evans had scored for the Stingrays with Tikkanen on the bench.Josh Wilkins and Jackson Leppard had the other South Carolina goals. Tyler Wall stopped 29 shots for the winners.The Stingrays made it 1-0 at 13:55 of the first period on Wilkins’ 14th goal of the season. He carried the puck into the Railers zone and used a linemate as a decoy on the right side. Wilkins used a Worcester defender as a screen and snapped a 30-footer over Tikkanen’s blocker.For the second South Carolina goal, Stingrays forward Tarek Baker made a Ferdinand Magellan play — he circumnavigated the offensive globe while controlling the puck — and set up Leppard from behind the net at 6:28.The Railers were able to generate more offensive pressure after that but did not test Wall very often. Butler had Worcester’s best chance, a bit of a breakaway at 12:30, but he was hampered from the side and the puck sort of just slid off his blade.The night was disappointing for the Railers but not without a couple of highlights. One was the performance of rookie forward Andrei Bakanov, who played the best game of his brief Worcester career and created some energy on his shifts and penalty killing.Another was rookie Conor Breen’s first pro fight in just his third pro game. Breen took on Leppard in the third period and stood his ground nicely. It was the first fighting major ever for a Worcester pro player out of Amherst College.There has only been one other, Phil Johansson of the 2019-20 Railers.MAKING TRACKS – Nolan Vesey was back in uniform. Railers who did not play were Liam Coughlin, Noah Delmas, Jack Quinlivan, Philip Beaulieu, Jared Brandt and Zack Bross. … Tikkanen stopped 29 of 31 shots and has stopped 98 of 105 shots (.933) in his last three starts
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