By Bill Ballou
WORCESTER – The Railers have been very good at doing the improbable through the years, and especially this year, by coming back from two goals down to gain a point and sometimes two.
Coming back from a three-goal deficit remains their Impossible Dream, though, and Worcester’s 6-2 loss to the Norfolk Admirals added to the frustration Saturday night.
The Railers fell behind early, 2-0, and were down by 2-1 after 20 minutes. When it became a 4-1 game at 11:41 of the second period it was essentially over. They have played 394 games, regular season and playoffs, through the years and have never earned a point after trailing by three goals.
The outcome disappointed a big crowd of 5,720 on Star Wars Night which also featured a visit by former Worcester Red Sox favorite Ryan Fitzgerald. The Railers never gave that crowd a chance to get into the game.
Blade Jenkins scored both Worcester goals. They were his 12th and 13th this season, the 20th and 21st for the Railers in parts of two seasons. He is the 16th player to hit that plateau. Jenkins is 4-2-6 in his last four games with a plus-4 rating.
The Admirals got goals from six different players. In order they were Kamerin Nault, Stepan Timofeyev, Aaron Miller, Carson Musser, Danny Katic and Andrew McLean into an empty net.
Kristian Stead had a strong game in the Norfolk net. He mad 34 saves. John Muse stopped 22 of 27 shots.
Worcester was badly out-specialed. The Railers were 0 for 3 on their power plays while Norfolk was 2 for 3.
In a one-sided score it is hard to label one goal as critical but this game may have had one. It would have been Miller’s at 3:13 of the second period, extending the Admirals’ lead to 3-1.
Worcester opened the period killing a penalty and swarmed all over Stead while Norfolk had the man advantage. The Railers didn’t score but maintained their momentum when back at even strength.
Then Miller took the puck down the right wing, entered the Worcester zone while outnumbered by 3 to 1 including Muse. Even so, he found a way to cut across the top of the crease and slide home a short backhander.
So much for momentum.
Had the Railers won they would have jumped over Norfolk into second place in the North Division. Instead, they dropped into fourth place behind Newfoundland, which beat Maine.
This strange season series has finally ended. Norfolk won six of the 10 games played and captured it with Saturday night’s triumph. That could have playoff implications.
Saturday night ended a string where the Railers played five straight home games against the same team, the Admirals. They had never played more than three straight against the same team at the DCU Center. Sunday’s opponent is Trois-Rivieres, which beat Adirondack in overtime Saturday night, 2-1. That snapped the Thunder’s 12-game winning streak. Worcester heads into the game one point ahead of the Lions in the battle for fourth place.
This will be the Railers’ fifth game of the season versus Trois-Rivieres, all at the DCU Center. The series stands at 2-2-0 including a shootout victory for Worcester.
MAKING TRACKS – Ryan Verrier is Worcester’s reigning ironman. Saturday night was his 34th straight game. His last time not in uniform was Nov. 3. … Coach Jordan Smotherman went with the same group of skaters as Friday. The four players on injured reserve are Tristan Lennox, John Copeland, Christian Krygier and Todd Goehring. The Railers are hoping to get a couple of them back fairly soon. Jake Pivonka and Ryan Dickinson also did not dress. … Worcester is 25-18-4 all-time in the second game of a 3-in-3 weekend. The Railers are 20-15-2 playing in front of crowds bigger than 5,400. This was their third-largest gate of the season and fourth above 5,000. They are 2-1-1 in those games. … The Admirals are 10-5-4 on the road, 10-12-1 at home.