Railers stay in playoff chase with 6-3 win in Maine

The Worcester Railers headed to Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, Maine Wednesday night needing a regulation win over the Mariners to keep within striking distance of their ECHL North Division rivals, and they got just that as five different players lit the lamp and goaltender Colten Ellis continued to make highlight saves in a 6-3 win.

It wasn’t a “must-win” contest as there are still plenty of games to make up ground, but another loss to the Mariners would have really put Worcester in a hole as they only play the Mariners one more time this season and would need help from other teams to grab the fourth and final divisional playoff spot.

The opening period was even early, and it was Cole Coskey who opened the scoring for Worcester.

It would stay 1-0 through the first intermission, and the Railers got an early second period power play with a fresh sheet of ice. They didn’t officially convert with the man advantage, but just as the penalty expired Ross Olsson made it 2-0.

Marc-Olivier Duquette answered quickly for Maine 86 seconds after the Olsson tally to make it 2-1.

Worcester thought they’d made it 3-1 at 10:13 of the middle period when Bobby Butler beat Mariners’ netminder Stefanos Lekkas after a wild goalmouth scrum, but referee Sam Heidemann went to the video and waved the goal off for goaltender interference. Brent Beaudoin would get one that absolutely counted at 13:18 to officially make it 3-1.

Soon after there were some shenanigans in front of the Railers bench that sent four players to the penalty box with double minors for roughing, and just after those players were released from the sin bin Jordan Smotherman made it a 4-1 score.

But as happened far too often this season Worcester allowed an opponent a quick rebuttal goal as Tyler Hinam cut the lead to 4-2 at 18:45.

Maine came out of the gate on fire in the third, launching 13 shots on Ellis in the first eight minutes of the frame. Ellis stood tall and the Railers weathered the storm, and Jabob Hayhurst gave his team a little more breathing room.

Unfortunately once again Worcester allowed a goal quickly after scoring when Brendan Robbins connected 65 seconds later to make it 5-3. The Mariners continued to swarm the offensive zone, but Ellis and the Railers were able to answer the challenge. Maine pulled their goaltender after the last media timeout, and Smotherman scored into the empty net for the 6-3 final.

Scratches for the Railers were Blake Christensen, John Furgele, Grant Jozefek (IR/upper body), Connor McCarthy (IR/unknown), Chris Ordoobadi, and Ethan Price. Ken Appleby, who was assigned to Worcester this morning, was the backup up goaltender. Bobby Butler was activated off of IR and played Wednesday.

After having a pretty stable roster of the last few weeks the Railers have had a handful of transactions since Sunday’s 5-3 loss to Maine. In addition to Appleby returning, Worcester released netminder Jimmy Poreda. Bridgeport also recalled Will Cullen and Mike Cornell, and then released Cullen. No word as to why Bridgeport released Cullen and the defenseman was signed by Idaho (ECHL) Wednesday morning.

Speaking of Cornell, it’s old news that he was suspended for Sunday’s contest as a result of his actions at 9:15 of the third period of Saturday’s game when Cornell went after Mathew Santos after Santos gave Mitchel Balmas a shove into the boards when Balmas was off balance. Just about every hometown fan thinks their player shouldn’t have been suspended no matter how bad his actions were, but this writer can safely say that while Cornell’s actions may not have been the smartest thing to do I’ve seen far worse not be penalized at all. There should also be no amazement that referee Casey Terreri wasn’t going to call any penalty on Santos until Cornell went after him.

Midway through the third period a mystery penalty appeared in the boxscore, which reads “2 – WOR Balmas, 18:45 – Hooking – minor, (55.2) 2 min”. That penalty didn’t happen, and in fact 18:45 of the second period was when Maine scored a goal. The box score is currently listed as being final, so it will be interesting to see if the penalty is removed.

The three stars of the game were:
1. WOR – 14 Jordan Smotherman
2. WOR – 11 Nolan Vesey
3. MNE – 20 Tyler Hinam

The 210Sports Player of the Game was Colten Ellis.

Even Strength Lines
Vesey / Beaudoin / Repaci
Smotherman / Coughlin / Coskey
Newkirk / Hayhurst / Butler
Olsson / Balmas

Osmanski / Albano
Spetz / McGurty

In the North Division
Trois Rivieres 5, Newfoundland 3
Adirondack 4, Reading 3 SO

Our affiliates last night
No games

Worcester 1 3 2 – 6
Maine 0 2 1 – 3

1st Period-1, Worcester, Coskey 9 (Smotherman), 15:33. Penalties-Olsson Wor (interference), 17:26.

2nd Period-2, Worcester, Olsson 18 (Newkirk, Butler), 2:48. 3, Maine, Duquette 6 (Hinam, Robbins), 4:14. 4, Worcester, Beaudoin 13 (Vesey, Repaci), 13:18. 5, Worcester, Smotherman 23 (Osmanski, Newkirk), 17:54. 6, Maine, Hinam 5 (Jermain, Bleackley), 18:45. Penalties-Duquette Mne (tripping), 0:48; Folkes Mne (high-sticking), 8:18; Albano Wor (double – roughing), 13:38; Olsson Wor (double – roughing), 13:38; Askew Mne (double – roughing), 13:38; Doherty Mne (double – roughing), 13:38; Balmas Wor (hooking), 18:45.

3rd Period-7, Worcester, Hayhurst 12 (Vesey, Repaci), 10:43. 8, Maine, Robbins 6 (Egan), 11:48. 9, Worcester, Smotherman 24 (Coskey), 17:37 (EN). Penalties-No Penalties

Shots on Goal-Worcester 7-14-9-30. Maine 12-11-16-39.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 0 / 2; Maine 0 / 1.
Goalies-Worcester, Ellis 13-5-4-1 (39 shots-36 saves). Maine, Lekkas 15-12-1-0 (29 shots-24 saves).
Referees-Sam Heidemann (22).
Linesmen-Evan Reddick (67), Shane Kanaly (74).

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