After being inactive for six games, he returns to lineup and helps restore Newfoundland to its winning ways
Once he got back into the Newfoundland Growlers’ lineup, Semyon “Sam” Babintsev did just about everything he could do to stay there.
After sitting on the sidelines for six straight games, Babintsev was added to the lineup for Saturday’s tilt ECHL against the Railers in Worcester, Mass., and he responded with a first-star performance. The 24-year-old scored the game-winning goal and added two assists as Newfoundland (27-11-2) defeated the Railers 5-1 to take three of a possible four points from a weekend visit to Worcester.
The home side had prevailed 3-2 in overtime on Friday.
Last week, before the Growlers headed out on the road, Newfoundland head coach Ryane Clowe spoke about the difficulty he was having finding time for all of Newfoundland’s forwards. The team has had many as five healthy centres or wingers as healthy scratches or on reserve lists in recent times, but was, at the time. in the midst of what would be a six-game winning streak, making the need to change things less pressing.
But Clowe said he was determined to get some of the recently inactive forwards “into the mix,” specifically mentioning Babintsev, who now has 18 points (nine goals, nine assists) and a plus-six rating in 24 games.
Ryan Moore, another Growlers forward who had also sat for six games and who was activated prior to Saturday’s game, also scored in the win.
Scott Pooley added his team-leading 18th goal for Newfoundland, while Zach O’Brien and Brady Ferguson each contributed their 15th tally Saturday. Giorgio Estephan, who will represent the Growlers as tonight’s ECHL All-Star Classic in Toledo, Ohio, had two assists.
Goalie Michael Garteig, one of a large group of players sent to Newfoundland by the AHL’s Toronto Marlies last week, made 22 saves for his second win of the current road trip, which finishes up next weekend with a couple of games against the Brampton Beast.
Ivan Kosorenkov was the only player to score for the Railers (17-17-5), the ECHL affiliate of the New York Islanders.
The league’s all-star break will give Clowe a brief holiday from the dilemma he faces when it comes to his forwards, a problem made more difficult since ECHL teams only dress 10 forwards per game. To give you an idea of what he’s up against, consider this: three players who are among Newfoundland’s top eight scorers — Matt Bradley, Josh Kestner and J.J. Piccinich — did not dress for Saturday’s game.
Newfoundland had been less than a minute away from extending its win streak on Friday night, but the Railers got a game-tying goal from Ryan MacKinnon with 38 seconds remaining in regulation and their goalie on the bench for an extra attacker.
The Growlers argued the puck had been kicked in on the play, but after a review, the goal call was upheld, sending the game into overtime, where Matt Scmaltz ended it with the winner at 3:54.
Marcus Power, with his 15th of the season, and Griffen Molino on a successful penalty shot with just under six minutes left in regulation, had the Newfoundland goals.
Eamon McAdam, who had been returned from the Marlies at the same time as Garteig, took the loss in the Growlers net. McAdam, a third-round draft pick of the Islanders who had appeared in 29 games for Worcester last season, made 17 saves.