The Worcester Railers began their season-long seven-game road trip with the first of three against the Utah Grizzlies this weekend at the Maverik Center in West Valley City and got multiple-point nights from Reece Newkirk and captain Jordan Smotherman and 29 saves from goaltender Colten Ellis in a 4-1 victory.
It’s important to start these long road trips far away from home on an up note to gain some momentum, and the Railers did just that by owning the opening twenty minutes, outshooting the Grizzlies 14-4 and scoring the only goal in the opening frame when Newkirk banged home a rebound of Smotherman’s shot from the top of the left-wing circle.
In the second period, Utah tied it with a power play goal at 3:29. Just moments after Benjamin Tardif rang one off the crossbar behind Ellis, the second time that happened early in the middle period, the Grizzlies used some nice passing to set up Luka Burzan at the bottom of the circle to the right of Ellis. His shot beat Ellis on the stick side to tie it 1-1.
Just under three minutes later Worcester would get a power play of their own, and after turning aside a shorthanded bid by Utah the Railers would use also some nice passing to help put the puck into the net.
Newkirk then gave Worcester a bit of breathing room when he lead a rush into the Grizzlies zone and took care of business by himself.
Worcester played much of the third period shorthanded but their penalty kill came through each time, and with under thirty seconds left on the clock and shorthanded for the seventh time in the game the Railers sealed the seal with Austin Osmanski’s first goal as a professional.
The tally is currently listed as unassisted, but it sure looks like Brent Beaudoin should be getting a helper on the play.
Scratches for the Railers were Bobby Butler (IR/unknown), Will Cullen, John Furgele (IR/unknown), Grant Jozefek (IR/upper body), Chris Ordoobadi, and Ethan Price. Jimmy Poreda was the backup up goaltender. The transaction wire was very quiet last week for Worcester, with just Felix Bibeau being recalled to Bridgeport after playing two games last weekend in what was essentially a conditioning stint. He has an assist and was even over the two contests.
With it being the first meeting between the clubs this season we’ll take a look at some roster and area connections, and it seems no Railers players has any connection to Utah that this writer can find. For the Grizzlies, Brian Bowen played 11 games for Worcester in 2017-18, going 3-1-4 and was a minus-6. Neil Robinson, who is on IR for Utah and was in training camp with Worcester, played four seasons for the College of the Holy Cross, averaging just under a half-point per game for the Crusaders. Fellow forward Christian Simeone was born in Milton, MA.
And as it’s the first game of the weekend we’ll take a look at who won last week’s “Player of the Week” over on Facebook at the newly renamed LFG Railers group, and in the closest balloting of the season Jordan Smotherman came out on top by ten votes. Nolan Vesey finished in second place, with Jacob Hayhurst and Liam Coughlin trailing behind. It’s the first time this season all four finalists has multiple votes.
The three stars of the game were:
1. WOR – 18 Reece Newkirk
2. WOR – 81 Anthony Repaci
3. WOR – 14 Jordan Smotherman
The 210Sports Player of the Game was Colten Ellis.
Even Strength Lines
Olsson / Hayhurst / Coskey
Vesey / Beaudoin / Rapaci
Newkirk / Coughlin / Smotherman
Osmanski / Sredl
Spetz / McGurty
McCarthy / Albano
Worcester 1 2 1 – 4
Utah 0 1 0 – 1
1st Period-1, Worcester, Newkirk 4 (Smotherman, Spetz), 6:04. Penalties-Kuzmeski Uta (hooking), 13:26; McCarthy Wor (holding), 18:23.
2nd Period-2, Utah, Burzan 5 (Tardif, Bowen), 3:29 (PP). 3, Worcester, Repaci 15 (Coskey, Newkirk), 6:24 (PP). 4, Worcester, Newkirk 5 (Coughlin, Smotherman), 16:18. Penalties-Spetz Wor (hooking), 2:10; Stone Uta (tripping), 5:37; Mannek Uta (hooking), 11:19; Coskey Wor (tripping), 17:39; Osmanski Wor (slashing), 19:45.
3rd Period-5, Worcester, Osmanski 1 19:36 (SH EN). Penalties-Christensen Wor (high-sticking), 4:34; Albano Wor (tripping), 13:11; Hayhurst Wor (tripping), 19:30.
Shots on Goal-Worcester 14-8-8-30. Utah 4-13-12-29.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 1 / 3; Utah 1 / 7.
Goalies-Worcester, Ellis 10-3-2-0 (29 shots-28 saves). Utah, Miner 11-6-0-0 (29 shots-26 saves).
Referees-John Lindner (6).
Linesmen-Craig Peterson (58), Kollin Kleinendorst (87).
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