The Worcester Railers took on the Utah Grizzlies for the second time in as many nights at the Maverik Center in West Valley City, and five different Railers had goals in a 6-2 Worcester victory. With the win, the Railers moved into the fourth and final playoff spot in the ECHL’s North Division.
It was Utah getting on the board first, at 7:47 of the opening period, when they controlled the puck in their own zone as both teams changed players. Grizzlies forward Quinn Ryan made a great move without the puck, wheeling his own zone and then skating hard across the neutral zone through a seam in the Worcester defense. Defender Nate Clurman hit him in stride as Ryan went in on Railers netminder Colten Ellis all alone, and beat the rookie to the high glove side.
It stayed 1-0 into the second period until Anthony Repaci and Nolan Vesey put on a passing clinic on a two on one, with Repaci lighting the lamp to tie it 1-1.
Referee John Lindner, who was trailing the play, ruled that Repachi was in the act of shooting before Utah netminder Trent Miner dislodged the net. The streaming video is inconclusive, but it didn’t appear that the Grizzlies put up much of an argument.
Both teams had their chances as the middle frame went on, and it was starting to look like it would take a lucky break for either team to put one in. The luck was with Jordan Smotherman and the Railers as the captain’s shot at 18:01 looked to be easily saved by Miner until all of the sudden the red light went on as the puck rolled into the net.
It didn’t take long into the third period for Worcester and Smotherman to strike again as 50 seconds into the frame once again the captain beat Miner on a shot the netminder probably should have had.
Anyone old enough to have played EA Sports’ NHL ’94 will get a chuckle out of Blake Christensen’s goal as Nolan Vesey pressed “B” and Christensen mashed “C” to light the lamp and make it 4-1 Worcester.
A couple minutes later the Railers converted on another power play attempt when Nick Albano and Liam Coughlin teamed up in what looked to be a how-to video on deflecting passes toward the goal.
The only thing Worcester hadn’t done in a while was score a shorthanded goal, so Jacob Hayhurst decided to check that box off too.
Utah added a goal by Zac Robbins on a nice tip in front of Ellis at 14:04 to make it the 6-2 final.
There was a bit of shenanigans near the end when Grizzlies forward Taylor Crunk intentionally bumped into Ellis well after the whistle. Defenseman Charlie Spetz and Ellis went after Crunk, with the linesmen pushing Ellis back to his crease. It ended with just some pushing and shoving
Scratches for the Railers were Bobby Butler (IR/unknown), Will Cullen, John Furgele (IR/unknown), Grant Jozefek (IR/upper body), Chris Ordoobadi, Ethan Price, and Matt Sredl. Jimmy Poreda was the backup up goaltender. Worcester went with just 15 skaters, using ten forwards and five defensemen. With apparently four healthy scratches that seems a bit odd. Because all that can be heard from the pregame show is a loud PA announcer, there’s no way to know if play-by-play man Cam McGuire mentioned it. The issues continued for most of the opening period as all that could be heard was crowd and game noise. This writer is starting to think the issue isn’t with FloSports or NASH-ICON, and instead may be with the audio equipment the team is using. That’s something that might bear looking into.
With the win, the Railers climb over the .500 barrier for the first time since October 26, 2019, when they fell to a .600 mark after a 5-2 loss at Brampton. From that point until yesterday the team was never better than .500. The latest in a season the Railers have ever been over .500 was the end of the 2018-19 season when they finished the campaign at .521, which was last in the ECHL’s North Division. In their history, the Railers have only been over the .500 mark for 190 days. When you figure the number of days in an ECHL season is generally in the 180 range and Worcester has played more than three full seasons, 190 days isn’t a very good number.
Longtime Worcester hockey faithful have heard countless stories from former broadcaster Eric Lindquist about the food he eats at arenas and some of the situations he found himself in road buildings. Last night was the first time I can recall Cam doing it, and it is a very amusing story that currently has an ending that hasn’t been written yet. It’s not my story to tell, mostly because I suspect it will pop up on the Railers social media before Monday afternoon’s puck drop, but those that heard it last night are absolutely waiting to see how it turns out.
The three stars of the game were:
1. WOR – 14 Jordan Smotherman
2. WOR – 92 Colten Ellis
3. WOR – 7 Liam Coughlin
The 210Sports Player of the Game was Anthony Repaci.
Even Strength Lines
Olsson / Hayhurst / Coskey
Vesey / Beaudoin / Rapaci
Newkirk / Coughlin / Smotherman
Spetz / McGurty
McCarthy / Albano
Worcester 0 2 4 – 6
Utah 1 0 1 – 2
1st Period-1, Utah, Ryan 11 (Clurman, Kuzmeski), 7:47. Penalties-No Penalties
2nd Period-2, Worcester, Repaci 16 (Vesey, Beaudoin), 3:46. 3, Worcester, Smotherman 20 (Newkirk, McCarthy), 18:01. Penalties-Tardif Uta (hooking), 11:41; Spetz Wor (hooking), 14:09; Albano Wor (slashing), 15:13.
3rd Period-4, Worcester, Smotherman 21 (Coughlin, Newkirk), 0:50. 5, Worcester, Christensen 9 (Vesey, Albano), 3:33 (PP). 6, Worcester, Coughlin 6 (Albano), 5:38 (PP). 7, Worcester, Hayhurst 9 9:09 (SH). 8, Utah, Robbins 7 (Penner, Bowen), 14:04. Penalties-Stone Uta (slashing), 2:52; Penner Uta (hooking), 4:43; served by Smotherman Wor (bench – too many men), 7:13; Spetz Wor (roughing), 16:40; Crunk Uta (double – roughing), 16:40.
Shots on Goal-Worcester 8-13-16-37. Utah 10-11-8-29.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 2 / 4; Utah 0 / 3.
Goalies-Worcester, Ellis 11-3-2-0 (29 shots-27 saves). Utah, Miner 11-7-0-0 (28 shots-23 saves); Jones 11-5-1-0 (9 shots-8 saves).
Referees-John Lindner (6).
Linesmen-Andrew Collins (49), Kollin Kleinendorst (87).
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