The Worcester Railers were looking to rebound from an awful effort Sunday that saw them lose 6-0 to Newfoundland, and with a squad comprised of all ECHL contracts except for one player, the Railers put forth a much better showing for most of the game Wednesday night against the Maine Mariners and came out on top after a highlight-filled shootout 3-2 at the DCU Center.
The player for Worcester who wasn’t on an ECHL contract was goaltender Colten Ellis, and the Railers really leaned on their NHL contracted goaltender from the St Louis Blues organization late in the game when they allowed a franchise-tying record 22 shots in the final frame. Ellis was up to the challenge and set a team record with 21 saves in the period.
Despite playing well things did not start off great for the Railers when Mariners forward Keltie Jeri-Leon beat Ellis high to the glove side on a three on two break at 7:50 of the opening period.
The goal didn’t seem to phase Worcester at all, and their hard efforts were rewarded when Zach Malatesta’s shot from the point got a lucky bounce.
Liam Coughlin gave the Railers the lead with the only goal in the middle frame, with a nice laser while surrounded by a sea of white jerseys.
The third period was all Maine as they outshot Worcester 22-5, but Ellis was up to the task allowing just an Andrew Romano goal at 2:32 of the period on Romano’s third whack at the loose puck.
To overtime the teams went, with Worcester having the edge of play but not being able to beat Maine netminder Jeremy Brodeur. Then the teams headed to the shootout, and despite how well Eliis and Brodeur played in the game they were treated badly by the shooters, who combined to go nine for twelve in the contest.
With just six defensemen and ten forwards on the roster, Worcester was expected to have no scratches. At some point prior to warmups goaltender Ken Appleby became unavailable. Worcester’s PR staff appeared as flummoxed as the rest of us as the Railers went through warmups with just Colten Ellis tending the goal. A couple moments before the opening puck drop Joe Spagnoli, who was an EBUG for the Railers in season one, appeared on the bench in goalie gear wearing the #31 jersey. Appleby’s name was listed on the official score sheet as the backup goaltender until the game went final when it changed to Spagnoli.
Both Carlos Fornaris and Will Cullen made their debuts. Fornaris played six ECHL games over the last two seasons, three each with Wheeling and Allen. He had one goal with the Nailers in 2019-20. Cullen made his pro debut after leaving Miami (Ohio) University last week and earned his first pro point with a secondary assist on Liam Coughlin’s second-period goal.
On Monday the Railers released defenseman Dom Procopio, who went scoreless and was (-1) over three games but looked pretty solid in his ECHL debut. The Kansas City Mavericks must have thought so too because they claimed him off waivers. Also on Monday, the Springfield Thunderbirds recalled forward Blake Christensen. He has yet to make his AHL debut.
Since there was no posting on Sunday’s abysmal 6-0 loss to Newfoundland, it might still be news to some that a scoring change in Friday’s game gave Ross Olsson the assist he needed for the Gordie Howe hat trick, which for new readers is notching a goal, an assist, and a fight in the same game. That makes Olsson the first Railers player to have a hat trick and Gordie Howe hat trick in the same game, and the first Worcester pro to accomplish that feat since at least 2006. Research is ongoing to see if a Worcester Icecats player ever did it, but this writer would wager it’s a first.
In other Olsson news, he was the runaway winner for last week’s Railers Fans Facebook Group’s Player of the Week. As of 4pm Wednesday, three hours before the vote is finalized, Olsson had 87% of the votes cast, with 42 of the 48 voters choosing him.
The three stars of the game were
1. WOR – 7 Liam Coughlin
2. WOR – 92 Colten Ellis
3. WOR – 16 Jacob Hayhurst
The 210Sports Player of the Game was Zach Malatesta.
Even Strength Lines
Callin / Coughlin / Olsson
Repaci / Beaudoin / Smotherman
Vesey / Hayhurst / Jozefek
Spetz / Furgele
Malatesta / McGurty
Boudrias / Cullen
Maine 1 0 1 0 – 2
Worcester 1 1 0 0 – 3
1st Period-1, Maine, Jeri-Leon 2 (Brazeau, Peski), 7:50. 2, Worcester, Malatesta 1 (Smotherman, Beaudoin), 12:44. Penalties-Jozefek Wor (high-sticking), 3:42; Doherty Mne (tripping), 10:36.
2nd Period-3, Worcester, Coughlin 3 (Callin, Cullen), 9:45. Penalties-Malatesta Wor (holding the stick), 12:16; Santos Mne (hooking), 12:31; Robbins Mne (hooking), 13:10.
3rd Period-4, Maine, Romano 2 (Kallen, Robbins), 2:32. Penalties-No Penalties
1st OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Doherty Mne (hooking), 5:07.
Shootout – Maine 4 (Brazeau NG, Bleackley G, Santos G, Horvath G, Shea G, Askew NG), Worcester 5 (Hayhurst G, Smotherman NG, Repaci G, Jozefek G, Vesey G, Coughlin G).
Shots on Goal-Maine 7-9-22-2-0-40. Worcester 8-15-5-7-1-36.
Power Play Opportunities-Maine 0 / 2; Worcester 0 / 4.
Goalies-Maine, Brodeur 5-3-1-1 (35 shots-33 saves). Worcester, Ellis 3-2-0-0 (40 shots-38 saves).
Referees-Casey Terreri (14).
Linesmen-Robert Griffin (53), Ryan Robinson (96).