The Worcester Railers took on the Newfoundland Growlers Friday night at the Mary Brown’s Centre in St. John’s in the first of three games this weekend on The Rock and were outplayed in every single aspect of the game in a 4-0 loss.
The only highlight for Worcester was the play of Colten Ellis, who made 40 stops and, at least on paper, kept the game within reach early. Nineteen of his saves came in the first period, with him not having any real chance on Zach O’Brien’s breakaway bid at 3:33, and it gave the Worcester faithful watching online some hope the offense would wake up.
Spoiler alert: it didn’t.
The Railers didn’t get their first shot of the second period until more than half the frame was gone, and that was pretty much the story of the rest of the game. O’Brien made it 2-0 with a five on three goal at 1:50 of the second. Jeremy McKenna added a late goal in the middle stanza to make it 3-0, and Orrin Centazzo made it the 4-0 final with less than four minutes to go in regulation.
Scratches for the Railers were Felix Bibeau (IR/lower body), Blake Christensen (IR/unknown), Liam Coughlin (IR/unknown), Grant Jozefek (IR/upper body), Myles McGurty (upper body), Reece Newkirk, Chris Ordoobadi (IR/unknown), Ethan Price, and Ryan Verrier. With Ken Appleby being reassigned to Bridgeport this week Matt Jenkins was the emergency backup goaltender.
In other transactions this week, the Railers suspended Nolan Valleau after the defenseman refused to report after being traded from Orlando to Worcester for Ross Olsson. This is the second time a Railers trade with the Solar Bears has resulted in a player not reporting to Worcester, the first happening in November of 2019 when the Railers sent Jake Bolton south in exchange for Jake Marchment. There has been no public comment from the team, but you can assume they are beyond irked at the situation.
In more positive news, Worcester signed Steve Jandric to a standard player contract after releasing him from his amateur try-out. Because Jandric is Canadian there were some paperwork issues to deal with before he could sign a pro deal, and that was taken care of once Jandric went to Canada with the team Wednesday. With Quinnipiac being eliminated from the NCAA playoffs defenseman Brendan Less was signed to a contract by Worcester. At the ECHL trade deadline, the Railers acquired Jared Brandt from Reading for future considerations. There’s no danger of Brandt not reporting as he’s already with the team and could possibly make his debut this weekend.
With there being literally nothing to write about for the game this is a good opportunity to mention some happenings on Worcester’s two-game series in Adirondack last weekend that was attended by a fairly large contingent of Railers Booster Club members. One of the highlights of the trip, as if winning both games wasn’t enough, was team photographer Rich LeBlanc being able to purchase one of Worcester Railers head coach Dave Cunniff’s game-worn jerseys from his stint with the Albany River Rats, and then present the jersey to Cunniff after the game. LeBlanc tells the story on his Facebook page and has a video of the presentation.
Unlike many of the fan groups for AHL and ECHL teams the relationship between the Booster Club and all the Worcester pro hockey teams has been more of a partnership, with the club supporting the team in any way it can both in the arena and in the community, sometimes with very little notice. One of those situations took place Saturday in Adirondack, and once again a Booster Club member answered the call. It happened Saturday morning while many of us were out sightseeing in Glens Falls when Railers COO Mike Myers texted this writer asking if there were any more Boosters heading up to Adirondack for the game Saturday night. I didn’t know the answer, so I wrangled Club Secretary and vice-mistress Jess Curtain away from the group to ask if she knew of anyone heading up so they could bring something with them for the team. She did and tracked down Keith Nichols, who later in the day was heading up with his family in what was supposed to be a surprise for his kids as they’d never attended a road game before. Once he said he was coming up it was revealed it wasn’t a thing, but a person who needed a ride; Railers captain Jordan Smotherman, who was injured and felt he could play Sunday but had no way to get to the team. Nichols, who is a Southbridge fire department captain and a lieutenant with the Dudley fire department, was more than willing to bring Smotherman up, noting “I guess I’m taking the van now”. All arrived in plenty of time for Smotherman to take warmups with the Railers, while he was a scratch Saturday he did indeed play on Sunday. While it wasn’t the surprise Nichols intended, he and his family now have a great story to tell about their first road game ever.
The three stars of the game were:
1. NFL – 10 Zach O’Brien
2. NFL – 33 Angus Redmond
3. NFL – 28 Ben Finkelstein
The 210Sports Player of the Game was Colten Ellis.
Even Strength Lines
Vesey / Beaudoin / Repaci
Balmas / Hayhurst / Butler
Jandric / Newton / Smotherman
Osmanski / Less
McCarthy / Markell
Spetz / Sredl
Worcester 0 0 0 – 0
Newfoundland 1 2 1 – 4
1st Period-1, Newfoundland, O’Brien 24 (Boland, Finkelstein), 3:33. Penalties-No Penalties
2nd Period-2, Newfoundland, O’Brien 25 (Finkelstein, Hoefenmayer), 1:50 (PP). 3, Newfoundland, McKenna 15 (Green, McCourt), 15:37. Penalties-McCarthy Wor (delay of game), 0:18; Hayhurst Wor (high-sticking – double), 1:33; Smotherman Wor (roughing), 13:45; Noel Nfl (roughing), 13:45.
3rd Period-4, Newfoundland, Centazzo 25 (O’Brien, Boland), 16:21. Penalties-Johnson Nfl (hooking), 3:25; McCarthy Wor (roughing), 7:42; Skirving Nfl (roughing), 14:00.
Shots on Goal-Worcester 6-8-6-20. Newfoundland 20-13-11-44.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 0 / 2; Newfoundland 1 / 4.
Goalies-Worcester, Ellis 15-8-4-1 (44 shots-40 saves). Newfoundland, Redmond 9-10-0-0 (20 shots-20 saves).
Referees-Dominic Cadieux (3).
Linesmen-Jim Vail (75), Sheldon Keough (47).
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