South Carolina Stingrays defeat Worcester Railers 4-1 in first-ever meeting between teams

South Carolina Stingrays defeat Worcester Railers 4-1 in first-ever meeting between teams
Stingrays Feel Right At Home With 4-1 Win In Worcester
nThe Worcester Railers HC (20-20-4-2, 46pts) had their season high six game point streak come to an end in a 4-1 loss to the visiting South Carolina Stingrays (30-11-4-1, 65pts) in front of 3,794 fans at the DCU Center on a wintery Friday evening. The Railers eleven game homestand concludes on a BIG GAME SATURDAY with PINK IN THE RINK at 7:05pm vs. the Brampton Beast as the Railers stick it to breast cancer.

Jeff Kubiak extended his point streak to five games with his 8th goal of the season but the Railers trailed 4-0 and couldn’t recover.  Frankie Simoneli (1-2-3) recorded three points to lead the way offensively for South Carolina while Parker Milner made 21 saves in net for his 15th win of the season for the Stingrays.  Mitch Gillam made 24 saves in net as the Railers are now 5-4-1-0 on their season long eleven game homestand.

South Carolina broke out to a 2-0 first period lead as Steven Whitney (15th) chipped a puck that broke off the end wall and back in front past the shoulder of Mitch Gillam at 1:51 and Taylor Cammarata (9th) sent a quick shot from alone in front into the net at 11:54. Shots were 9-4 in favor of the Stingrays through 20 minutes of play as goaltender Parker Milner was not really tested.

Frankie Simoneli (8th) made it 3-0 with a blast from 40 feet on the rush at 2:57 of the second period for the only score of the middle frame.  Worcester outshot South Carolina 11-9 in the second period but netminder Parker Milner stood tall as the Railers headed into the second intermission down by three goals.

The Stingrays put the game away at 2:44 of the third period as Dylan Margonari (11th) deflected a Frankie Simoneli point blast into the cage to give South Carolina a 4-0 advantage.  Jeff Kubiak (8th) snuck in a rebound from the blue paint after a Tommy Kelley wrap-around was stopped by Milner at 6:10 to give the Railers a pulse.  But that was all the scoring for the night as South Carolina cruised to a 4-1 road victory at the DCU Center.

Notes: Three Stars: 3rd star: Jeff Kubiak (Goal) 2nd star: Tim McGauley (0-2-2) 1st star: Frankie Simoneli (1-2-3) …Final shots were 28-22 in favor of South Carolina… Parker Milner (15-4-2) made 21 saves on 22 shots for South Carolina…. Mitch Gillam (8-10-0) made 24 saves on 28 shots for Worcester… Eamon McAdam was the backup goalie…. Worcester went 0-for-4 on the power play while South Carolina went 0-for-3…Josh Monk (inj), Ashton Rome (inj), Matt Lane, and Vinny Muto did not dress for Worcester…Anthony Calabrese made his debut for the Railers on the blueline and wore #13…Kellen Jones, Mike Cornell, and Matty Gaudreau are currently on recall with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers….Worcester fell to 11-11-2-0 on home ice…. Jeff Kubiak has seven points (4-3-7) in his last five games…. Tommy Kelley (1-2-3) has a three-game point streak.

Bill Ballou Telegram & Gazette Staff @BillBallouTG WORCESTER — It is probably disappointing to find out something like this, but your parents were wrong.

If the Railers had never scored Friday night at the DCU Center, they still would have lost to the South Carolina Stingrays. It might have been 4-0, not 4-1, but the way the visitors dominated Worcester from start to finish there was no way they were going to lose.

Steven Whitney, Taylor Cammarata, Frankie Simonelli and Dylan Margonari scored for South Carolina. Jeff Kubiak had the lone Railers goal.

“It’s a good team, there’s no question” Railers coach Jamie Russell said of the second-place Stingrays. “You know, we have seven defensemen on our roster right now, six are rookies, two started the season in the SPHL.

“That’s a fact, and we have to play simple with our game. We have to have pucks going north. We have to get pucks into our forwards’ hands as quickly as possible. When we don’t do that, we’re chasing games.”

Worcester started chasing early as it took the Stingrays less than two minutes to take a lead they held for the rest of the night.

At 1:51 of the first period, Tim McGauley took a pass from Simonelli and fired a hard shot wide of the net. Mitch Gillam got tangled up in a little traffic at the top of the crease and could not get over to the post in time to prevent Whitney from snapping a rebound into the open space.

Ten minutes later, South Carolina went up, 2-0, as it took advantage of a Railers turnover deep in their own zone. Joe Devin slipped a pass to Cammarata, and he sliced in from the left circle to flip a short backhander past Gillam.

As had happened on Wednesday night, the Railers came out strong to start the second period but this time couldn’t maintain that momentum. Barry Almeida had a couple of good chances on the first shift, which was dominated by Worcester, but Simonelli put the Railers into an even deeper hole at 2:57.

The defenseman trailed a rush and took a drop pass from Hampus Gustaffson, whose nine points leads the ECHL in points by players named Hampus. Simonelli finished nicely with a 35-foot slap shot under the crossbar.

Margonari made it 4-0 at 2:46 of the third period. Simonelli was stationed at the left point, got a nice pass and drilled a 45-foot slap shot that Margonari tipped past Gillam.

Worcester avoided the shutout when Kubiak scored at 6:10 of the third period. He popped a short one past Parker Milner after being set up by Tommy Kelley. The goal extended Kubiak’s points streak to five games. He is 4-3-7 during the streak.

While it was a bad night for the Railers, it was not a total loss. Every other team in the North Division that played Friday night was also beaten, so Worcester at least didn’t lose any ground in the playoff chase.

Matty Gaudreau was recalled by the AHL Bridgeport Sound Tigers, and the power play was stagnant. “They have the best penalty kill in the league,” Russell said of the Stingrays. “That said, we missed Gaudreau.” He was replaced in the lineup by Kelley. Vinny Muto and Matt Lane were in street clothes, Brian Bowen taking Lane’s spot. Ashton Rome and Josh Monk are injured. … Railers have scored each of their last five goal in either the third period or overtime. … Attendance was 3,794. … With Muto getting the night off, Anthony Calabrese made his Railers debut on defense wearing No. 13. … The homestand concludes with a divisional game at 7:05 tonight versus Brampton, which is 7-10-5 on the road this season. … South Carolina has two former Worcester pros on its roster, but neither played. Tough guy Trevor Gillies (IceCats) did not make the trip, and goalie Jeff Jakaitis (Sharks) served as Parker Milner’s backup. Milner was a teammate of Almeida at Boston College, as was Wednesday night’s opposing goalie, John Muse.

—Contact Bill Ballou at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BillBallouTG.

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