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Thunder Beat Railers 2-1 in Tight Game

Friday, November 3rd
Thunder Beat Railers 2-1 in Tight Game

By Bill Ballou

WORCESTER – This happens a few times over the course of a 72-game schedule.

A team leaves the ice thinking, “How did we lose that game?” or sometimes, “How did we win it?”

The Railers’ “How did we?” Friday night was after a defeat.The Railers lost a great goaltending duel, 2-1, to the Adirondack Thunder. Worcester’s Henrik Tikkanen turned back 27 of 29 of Adirondack shots. His counterpart, Vinnie Purpura, made 31 saves including 13 in a frantic third period when Worcester attacked in waves.

The three goals were scored by two players. Jake Pivonka got the Worcester one. Filip Engaras scored the Thunder’s two.

The Railers have scored just one goal in the last two games. It is a small sample size. Some of it is luck. Some of it falls into the report card category of needs improvement.

“It’s definitely a little bit of both,” coach Jordan Smotherman said. “But right now, we’ve worked all week to try to get these guys to remember that the net is the only thing on the ice that doesn’t move and you don’t have to look at it before you shoot.

“Those extra two-thirds of a second you wait before putting the puck on the net is what holds you back.”

The Railers had the best chance of the first period but the Thunder had the only goal.

Worcester’s Andrei Bakanov created a turnover in the Adirondack zone and had a one-on-one with Purpura at 12:50 and put a hard shot on him from about 20 feet, but was stopped. As so often happens in hockey — why, nobody really knows — the opposition went back the other way and scored. It was a messy goal, Engaras getting it at 13:18 after a scramble around the crease.

The Thunder made it 2-0 at 16:33 of the second period. Engaras scored from the right circle with Adirondack on a power play. The Railers responded at 18:42, Pivonka getting his team-leading third of the season.

Zsombor Garat hit Anthony Callin with a touchdown pass from deep in the Worcester zone. Callin, who was not quite in the clear, slowed everything down and found Pivonka all alone in the slot. He wasted no time in beating the goalie with a high wrist shot.

The Railers had a 13-5 edge in shots over the final 20 minutes and in the final minutes dominated play, either hitting Purpura or missing the net and wondering why nothing went in.

MAKING TRACKS – Garat debuted the Number 70, switching from 20. He is the first player in Worcester hockey history to wear that number. There had been a gap between 61 (Nic Pierog had it for two seasons) and the 72 worn by Drew Callin. … This is a 3-in-5 series that continues Saturday night at the DCU Center. That’s a 7:05 faceoff. The Thunder then returns on Tuesday for a game at 1:05 p.m. … It was a two-referee game that included a tall guy, Andrew Bell. It was his first appearance in a Railers game. … If they stood on each other’s shoulders, skates off of course, Tikkanen and Purpura would be 13-foot-2. … Ryan Verrier, Adam Goodsir, Artyom Kulakov, and Anthony Repaci all did not dress. Jack Quinlivan is on the injured list. … A face in the crowd: John Copeland’s dad, Todd Copeland, who played here for Rochester against the IceCats late in 1994, pro hockey’s first season in the city.

#RailersHC

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