By Bill Ballou
WORCESTER – Worcester lost in a shootout, 4-3, to the Adirondack Thunder on Tuesday afternoon. The Railers allowed two goals in the first period and spent the rest of the day playing catch up, which they admirably did, but could not score in overtime and lost the shootout, 2 goals to 1.
Actually, Worcester did score in overtime. It just that the goal didn’t count.
Anthony Callin whacked a loose puck into an open net at 5:30 but the net was open for a reason. Adirondack goaltender Vinnie Purpura had been run over by Railers defenseman John Copeland and was out of the play.
Referee Michael Zyla looked at the video replay and conferred with linesman Matthew Heinen at length before ruling it was no goal.
The replay showed that Zyla got it right.
“I thought it was the right call,” coach Jordan Smotherman said. “He made enough contact with him; I think their ‘D’s’ stick is involved, but he made enough contact with him.”
So, if there was goalie interference, why wasn’t a penalty called?
“You have to ask somebody else,” Smotherman said, “and ask why there wasn’t a penalty on the crosscheck to (Callin’s) head as well.”
That call was not why the Railers lost, Smotherman added.
“It was a bad start,” he said.
That has been an ongoing issue. Worcester scored three goals in the first 8:51 of the first period opening night and has scored two in seven first periods since then.
“It’s how we manage pucks,” Smotherman said. “We turn pucks over in the first half of every game. One, it takes energy out of our sails and two, we’re constantly in the back end on defense and you’re not going to win hockey games that way.”
Disregarding the beginning and the end, the crowd saw a pretty good game. It was a record-setting performance for Railers goaltender Henrik Tikkanen, who made 52 saves including overtime. That’s the most ever for a Railers goalie in a home game.
The all-time team mark is 54. That was set by Mitch Gillam in a 3-2 Worcester victory at Brampton on Dec. 19, 2018.
The Railers goals were scored by Jake Pivonka, Ashton Calder and Callin. It was Callin’s first of the season and tied the game at 3-3 at 3:30 of the third period. He has been an offensive force lately with totals of 1-4-5 in the last three games.
Callin looked good at the end of last season, signing out of college, and is battling with Calder and Pivonka for the team scoring lead this season.
“This was our expectation with (Callin),” Smotherman said. “We know the genetics, know the family, know the player. He’s certainly doing what we thought he would.”
The Railers are, to this point, the classic work in progress. While Tuesday’s defeat was disappointing, it is all part of that process, according to Smotherman.
“It was a huge moral victory for us to be able to come back and salvage a point,” he said. “I thought it was kind of a dumpster fire in the first period for us, so we’ll take it as a moral victory.
“It’s a process with our room. We have a really young team here. They are learning every day. They come here to learn every day and we’re gonna make mistakes but we’re also gonna be very good at some point.”
MAKING TRACKS – The Thunder was without Yanick Turcotte, who has left to play in Hungary. It’s not exactly a trade — Zsombor Garat for Turcotte — but Turcotte is still most identified for his seasons with the Railers. … Connor Welsh had an assist for his first points as a Railer. Trevor Cosgrove had a pair of assists. … Railers not in the lineup included the injured Jack Quinlivan, Anthony Repaci, Jake Schultz, Quinn Ryan and Artyom Kulakov. … Worcester’s next three games are in Newfoundland. The Railers are not home again until Friday, Nov. 17. This will be Worcester’s only trip to St. John’s during the regular season... It was the Railers’ first shootout since last Jan. 1.