WORCESTER, Mass. – The more things change, the more they stay the same. At least that seems to be the case with the Worcester Railers. They were held to their fourth straight loss as the Adirondack Thunder shut them out at home with a 2-0 loss on Saturday.

The Railers wore “Worcester 6” themed jerseys as a part of their tribute night. Those jerseys, which were auctioned during an after the game, raised over $12,000 for Worcester Firefighter’s Charities. The tribute comes one day and a month from the 20th anniversary of the Worcester Cold Storage Fire. The fire was one of the deadliest firefighting disasters the day it happened and continues to be a significant part of the city’s history.

Michael McNiven earned his second shutout of the season, stopping 29 shots while Mike Szmatula and Robbie Payne produced goals for Adirondack. Being shutout for the second time this season, the Railers did not score while Evan Buitenhuis kept the game scoreless until the 8:30 mark in the third. He made 28 saves in his first home start of the season. Connor Doherty hit a milestone with his 100th professional game, which was also his 100th game as a Railer.

Both goaltenders kept things even through two periods. As Worcester continues to put good goaltending on the ice, it makes the five skaters upfront look bad when they don’t produce, and has become more apparent as the Railers’ four-game losing streak continues. There’s only so much a goaltender can do, and once they allow goal after goal, things tend to fall apart rather quickly.

Worcester’s night was as quiet as they come. No fights, no scoring, and so few penalties on the night gave fans wishing for a little bit more. Railers have been outscored 18-4 in their last four games and their second shutout loss in their previous three. Mike Szmatula broke the scoreless game at 8:30 in the third period with a feed from Nikita Popugaev, scored on a wide-open net with Szmatula right on Buitenhuis’ doorstep. Adirondack’s second goal came with a Robbie Payne goal six minutes later. Worcester had a four-minute power play, which they appeared to score on with 1:18 remaining in regulation but was waved off with a high-stick on the play that was clear as day.

The Three Stars of the Game Were:

  1. Michael McNiven (Adirondack) – 29 saves, shutout, win
  2. Mike Szmatula (Adirondack) – Game-Winning Goal
  3. Evan Buitenhuis (Worcester) – 28 saves

Down the Track

What’s next for the Railers? It’s clear that the current lines and play haven’t been where they should be, and they’ll have to find something that works quick. The Railers have Chris Rygus, who has been a healthy scratch since the season began. Maybe it’s time for him to get a shot while the rest of the team can get over this losing streak. The Railers will hit the road for two games against the Thunder on Friday and Sunday.

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