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Worcester Drops 2-1 Decision In Shootout to Reading

Friday, March 15th
Worcester Drops 2-1 Decision In Shootout to Reading

By Bill Ballou

WORCESTER – The Railers’ lack of scoring has gone past the point of being a drought to being a mystery, with the latest chapter their 2-1 shootout loss to Reading at the DCU Center Friday night.

Yvan Mongo scored for Reading in the first period, Zsombor Garat for Worcester in the second. Jake Bricknell had the only shootout goal. The two goaltenders, John Muse for Worcester and Nolan Maier for Reading, both stopped 39 of 40 shots.

This was the third straight game in which the Railers scored just one goal. They have been credited with 108 shots during that streak. While the  outcome was disappointing, the night was not a total loss. Worcester retained its hold on fourth place in the North Division, albeit by kitten’s whisker.

The Railers have 57 points in 58 games for a winning percentage of .491. Reading also has 57 points but in 59 games. The Royals’ winning percentage is .483, same as Maine’s. Trois-Rivieres is in last place with a .482 winning percentage.

So the one point mattered. More than that, it was unusual. The game marked the 67th time in team history Worcester scored only one goal and only the 10th time it came away with a point of any kind.

Mongo finished a nice give-and-go to put Reading ahead at 10:58 of the first period. Garat surprised Maier with a wrist shot from the right circle at 10:54 of the second period, the puck finding its way inside the near post.

It was Garat’s second goal of the year, first on home ice.

Both goalies were superb in general, but especially in the third period. Muse was busier in overtime as he made six saves to two for Maier. The Royals controlled the puck — Worcester seemed tentative a lot of the time — but the Railers came closest to scoring.

Anthony Callin rang a post about 90 seconds into OT on a wrist shot from between the circles.

Otherwise, it was an uneventful and unexciting overtime with the teams essentially playing keepaway. It was a perfect advertisement for a rule change that would prohibit teams from taking the puck back over the red line when they are on offense.

The Railers roster had a couple of notable additions up front, although Reece Newkirk has been recalled by Bridgeport. Blade Jenkins was loaned by Hartford, which owns his AHL one-way contract. Worcester retains Jenkins’ ECHL rights.

Ryan Scarfo made his Railers’ debut and in the process became the ninth Massachusetts native to skate here this season. Scarfo, who turned 30 two weeks ago, is a veteran with 128 AHL games to his credit and Worcester is hoping that experience helps a relatively young roster down the playoff stretch run.

He was acquired from Savannah for future considerations where he was 4-8-12 with 59 PIM in 56 games.

The homestand ends at 7:05 Saturday night with a visit by the first-place Adirondack Thunder. That team lost at Maine Friday night, 6-2. The Thunder played nine games versus Worcester in 2023 but this will be the first time the teams meet in 2024.

The Railers lead the series, 4-2-3. Four of the games have gone into overtime.

MAKING TRACKS – Worcester’s injured list remains the same. It includes Ryan Verrier, John Copeland, Tristan Lennox and Anthony Repaci. … Jenkins and Ashton Calder are the Railers’ Three Stars leaders to date. Calder has 27 points including three First Stars. Jenkins has 25 points, also with three First Stars. … Scarfo is the 41st different player used by Worcester this season. … Worcester released Carson MacKinnon. … Todd Goehring and Joey Cipollone were in the lineup. Zach White, Jake Goldowski and Brendan Robbins were not. … Ryan Dickinson’s holding penalty at 4:46 of the second period was the first penalty called on Worcester in a span of 109:46. … Worcester was 0 for 4 on the power play. In contrast, the Railers have killed 18 of 20 penalties (90 percent) in their last seven games. … Attendance was 2,856.

#RailersHC

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