Railers Dominate but Fall to Thunder, 3-1
By Bill BallouWORCESTER – Not next year, probably, but somewhere down the road Railers fans will turn on their TVs to see an episode of History’s Mysteries investigating why their team can’t beat the Adirondack Thunder.This strange turn of events in the playoff drive added another chapter Saturday night at the DCU center with the Thunder beating Worcester, 3-1, even though the home team had a 33-22 edge in shots on goal.The outcome disappointed an enthusiastic crowd of 5,681 on Military Night. It was the sixth largest crowd of the season.Adirondack has taken 9 of a possible 10 points in the last five games between the teams. Worcester still has a one point lead in the North Division playoff race but the Thunder has two games in hand. The Railers have four games left, three against Adirondack, so they are hardly out of the race but they have to find a way to score.How do they do that?“Shoot the puck,” coach Jordan Smotherman said. “When we’re in scoring areas we don’t shoot the puck.”That was really evident in this defeat. If Railers forwards did not make the extra pass when they were in scoring areas, they made one too many moves with the puck trying to get even closer.Worcester’s shots on goal margin included a 22-3 margin in the second period when there were times it seemed as though the Railers were playing with a two-man advantage.The outcome might have been different if Worcester had played a better first period. The Thunder scored twice to take 2-0 lead as Sebastian Vidmar registered a power play goal at 5:04, then Matt Jennings converted a breakaway at 18:55, beating Henrik Tikkanen with a backhander.The Railers only goal came in that second period. It was also on a power play as Nolan Vesey snapped a 14-game goal drought at 12:44 by firing a 20-footer past Thunder goaltender Isaac Poulter, who was great.The final Adirondack goal was an empty netter by Travis Broughman with 10 seconds left in the third period.A word about Thunder goaltending in general.Aside from Friday night when Adirondack used two rookie goaltenders in the Railers’ 5-4 overtime victory, Poulter and Jake Theut have combined to stop 121 of 125 Worcester shots in their team’s four recent triumphs.Even though they are still mathematically in fourth place, the Railers’ hold on a playoff berth is tenuous. The Thunder is playing almost perfect hockey; they have earned at least one point in 11 straight games.Worcester’s road to the playoffs is a bumpy one, but the way the Railers need to play is not complicated.“You can’t play just 40 minutes of hockey,” Smotherman said. “We show it for glimpses of time, and it’s on the leadership in that (dressing) room. You have to coach everybody up, bring guys together.”And take the shot, not make the pass.MAKING TRACKS – Worcester plays host to Maine Wednesday night. The series has been a close one, but the Mariners have taken three of the four games at the DCU Center. … Reece Newkirk was recalled by Bridgeport and the Islanders matched that move by sending defenseman Trevor Cosgrove to Worcester. The Railers also signed defenseman Ryan Da Silva, who was released by Wheeling. … Future Star Bangled Banner singers would do well to study how it is done by Singing Trooper Daniel M. Clark, who hit all the right notes and had the right pace Saturday night. … The officials spent more time in the spotlight than usual. Referee Casey Terreri and Myles McGurty collided near the Railers net at 6:20 of the first period and the game was held up a bit. Both men were hobbled. Terreri did not miss any time but McGurty did not return for seven minutes. … Linesman Brent Colby, who had been doing pro games since 1993 including many here with the Sharks and Railers, officiated his final game. … It was a very good day for pro sports in the city in spite of the results. Between the Railers gate and the Worcester Red Sox crowd of 8,402 — the WooSox also lost — the two games drew a combined 14,083. #AllAboutTheW
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