https://railershc.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/230415-Thunder-in-game14.jpg 1080 1920 admin /_media/2021-22/logo.png admin2023-04-15 22:53:302023-04-15 22:57:41Railers Down to Must-Win Game on Sunday
Railers Down to Must-Win Game on Sunday
By Bill Ballou
GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – Worcester has taken things down to the absolute wire after losing to the Adirondack Thunder Saturday night, 5-1, at Cool Insuring Arena.
With the victory, the Thunder jumped over the Railers into the fourth and final spot in the North Division. Adirondack has 73 points, Worcester 72 with one game left in the regular season. That will be here Sunday afternoon and in order to qualify for post-season play the Railers have to win in regulation time since Adirondack gets the tie-breaker.
“(Sunday) is a Game 7,” coach Jordan Smotherman said. “That’s what it comes down to. There is no carryover. It’s a fresh day.”
It won’t be easy. The Thunder is one of the best home ice teams in the league. Adirondack has won six straight home games overall and is 20-10-4 here for the season. The Thunder has beaten the Railers five straight times here and outscored them, 22-6, in those games.
Adirondack scored twice in the first period and three times in the second. The Thunder had a 5-0 lead before the game was half over. Brent Beaudoin scored the only Worcester goal in the first minute of the third period, converting a great pass from Andrei Bakanov, but the game was out of reach by then.
That was the one pleasant note for the Railers on the night. It was the 20th goal of the season for Beaudoin, one of the ECHL’s most under-appreciated players.
Patrick Grasso scored twice for the Thunder. Sebastian Vidmar, Dajon Mingo and Shawn Weller had the other Adirondack goals. Mike Robinson stopped 22 of 23 Worcester shots. Robinson had surrendered 16 goals in three previous games prior to this one.
“We didn’t attack. That was the problem,” Smotherman said.
The first four Thunder goals were against Henrik Tikkanen, the last against Ken Appleby. Smotherman changed goaltenders after Grasso made it 4-0 at 5:20 of the second period, although he did not blame Tikkanen for the Railers early problems.
“I just wanted to change the whole thing,” Smotherman, “and get a free timeout just in case we were gonna climb back into that game.”
Vidmar gave the Thunder a 1-0 lead at 8:31 of the first period as he converted a pass from Ryan Smith. Vidmar had time and space from the right circle and put a snap shot inside the near post before Tikkanen could get over.
It could easily have been 2-0 three minutes later but Tikkanen made a big stop on Mingo’s re-direct from about 10 feet in front. He was not to be denied on his next good chance, though, which came at 15:58. He took a feed in the left circle, closed on Tikkanen a bit, and beat him with a wrist shot to the far post.
The period also featured a fight at 15:07 although it was not ruled one, apparently since neither combatant required CPR. Railers rookie defenseman Artyom Kulakov battled Matt Jennings. Punches were thrown and landed but both players wound up with simple roughing minors.
Worcester came out with some energy to start the second 20 minutes. It evaporated quickly and the game was essentially over before 30 minutes had elapsed.
Grasso scored at 4:49 and again at 5:20. Weller made it a 5-0 game with a power play goal at 9:20 and the only question left was if Worcester could bounce back on Sunday.
MAKING TRACKS – The temperature was right around 80 at game time. … There were seven rookies in the Railers’ starting lineup. They were Bakanov, Steve Jandric, Lambert, Trevor Cosgrove, Anthony Callin, Kulakov and Tikkanen. … Attendance was 4,871. It was the eighth sellout of the season at Cool Insuring Arena. … Former Railers Yanick Turcotte and Ivan Chukarov were not in the Adirondack lineup. Turcotte was an autograph signer in the lobby and the line was a long one. … Owner Cliff Rucker made the trip to take in the game.