The entire New York Rangers organization now sits on the verge of elimination. The Rangers are down three games to one to the Washington Capitols. The two teams meet for an elimination game Saturday afternoon at 3pm. The AHL-affiliate, Connecticut Whale trail the Portland Pirates (Buffalo Sabres) three games to two and hope to stay alive in Game Six on Saturday night. Now, after Friday night’s 2-1 loss, the Greenville Road Warriors of the ECHL, Neil Smith’s team that the Rangers share with the Philadelphia Flyers, find themselves down three games to one to the Wheeling Nailers (Pittsburgh Penguins / Montreal Canadiens). Game Five of that series is also on Saturday night. It is completely possible that the entire organization could be out of the playoffs by the end of the night on Saturday.
WHEELING, WV – The Greenville Road Warriors lost a one-goal decision to the Wheeling Nailers, 2-1, on Friday night and fell behind three games to one in their Eastern Conference semifinal series. Game Five is Saturday, April 23 in Wheeling with a 7:35 p.m. start time.
In an effort to even the series at two games each the Road Warriors got off to the exact start they wanted in the first period. It was a goal from Sean Berkstresser at the 4:40 mark that put Greenville ahead by a 1-0 count. It was Berkstressers’ second of the playoffs and first since his double overtime winner in Game Three against the Elmira Jackals. Chirs Chappell and Chris McKelvie earned the assists on the play. At the midway point of the period, Andrew Orpik matched Berkstresser’s goal and tied the game for Wheeling. Orpik’s initial shot was blocked but on the second attempt he found a way to squeeze it past Chris Beckford-Tseu. Greenville had a good chance late to re-take the lead as Doug Rogers took a high-sticking minor with 3:16 left to play. Peter Delmas and the Nailers’ penalty killers kept Greenville off the board and the game remained tied heading into the second.
In the middle frame Wheeling out-shot Greenville in a period for the first time in the series and used one of those shots to take a 2-1 advantage. After circling the Greenville net, Mikael Bedard attempted to center a pass that deflected off a body in front and past Beckford-Tseu. The goal came at the 7:13 mark of the period with assists going to Orpik and Dan Henningson. Greenville was shorthanded three times in the second period and with six minutes of penalty time to kill the Road Warriors had a hard time generating shots and were limited to six in the period. Delmas turned away each of those and Wheeling took the lead to the third.
Down by one, the Road Warriors were on the hunt for the tying goal in a big way. They sent 13 shots, a game-high in a period, on net. Despite their best efforts, and Beckford-Tseu pulled for the extra attacker late, they could not feed a shot across the line and sustained the one-goal defeat. The Road Warriors‘ offense took a hit when Marc-Olivier Vallerand went off for a 10 minute misconduct with just under eight minutes to play. Things got even hairier after the final whistle when frustrations boiled over and the Road Warriors were hit with 42 minutes of penalty time. The penalties resulted from a fight that broke out after the game had ended and involved T.J. Reynolds, Marc-Andre Bourdon, and Brendan Connolly. Wheeling picked up 17 minutes of penalty time with Kyle Bushee and Doug Rogers involved.
Beckford-Tseu took his second loss of the series as he made 19 saves on the night. Greenville was 0-for-2 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill.
The Road Warriors will be back in action on Saturday, April 23 for Game Five at WesBanco Arena at 7:35 p.m. Road Warriors fans can head to Bailey’s Sports Grille for another Road Warriors Watch Party. Bailey’s, 2409 Laurens Road in Greenville is the official watch party location for all Road Warriors away games. So grab a group of friends and get there for the Road Warriors up on the big screens courtesy of Bailey’s and America One. The Road Warriors will return home for Game Six, if necessary, on Tuesday, April 26 at 7:35 p.m. at the BI-LO Center. All students can get into the game for $6 by purchasing their ticket the day of the game at the BI-LO Center Box Office. There are also group discount tickets available for groups of five or more. Call 864-674-PUCK to speak to a Road Warriors representative.