Repaci’s two goals help Railers defeat Growlers 4-2

The Worcester Railers took on the Growlers Friday night at the Mary Brown’s Centre in St. John’s, Newfoundland in the first of three battles this weekend between two of the top three teams in the ECHL, and despite losing their top two scorers to AHL recalls used the return of Anthony Repaci and his two goals to spark a 4-2 win over the North Divison rivals. Bobby Butler and Reece Newkirk with the other goal scorers, with Blake Christensen picking up two assists.

This was the kind of game the Railers used to lose. They’d travel to Canada the day before, often leaving a key player behind due to injury or recall, take to the ice with a ton of confidence, and despite seemingly playing even with the Growlers a poor decision or bad bounce would lead to a Newfoundland goal that Worcester wasn’t able to recover from as the deficit grew larger and larger until the final horn sounded.

But Jordan Smotherman’s Railers are a different group.

Now when the team takes to the ice this season they believe they can beat anyone, and even though sometimes it doesn’t look pretty Smotherman has gotten his team to buy into his system and that has helped the team be competitive on both ends of the ice.

The only thing that needs improvement on the team is the power play, and with Newfoundland possessing one of the top penalty kills in the ECHL it looked like an uphill battle for Worcester to grab one on the man advantage. So, of course, the Railers jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a power play goal by Repaci.

One of the worst things a hockey team can do is allow a goal in the final minute of a period. The Railers used to do it all the time. Friday night, it was Newfoundland’s turn as Reece Newkirk made it a 2-0 lead with a great individual effort.

The Growlers would make it 2-1 at 2:05 of the middle period with a power play goal on a weak tripping call against Connor McCarthy, but three minutes later Bobby Butler would give the Railers their two-goal lead back when Christensen’s attempted pass to Quinn Ryan was deflected right to the tape of Butler’s stick.

Once again Newfoundland would tie it with a power play goal that’s scored as a five-on-four goal despite Myles McGurty not getting back to the ice after serving his borderline tripping minor, which made it 3-2 Worcester at 13:58 of the second period.

Enter Repaci again, as his second of the night made it 4-2 Railers.

Despite neither team scoring the third frame was the most evenly played of the three on the night, and it wasn’t until very late in the frame that Worcester went into a defensive shell. There would be a few long-distance attempts at the Growlers’ empty net as the Railers were content to play for a few seconds and just ice the puck when there was no opportunity for offense.

The two teams meet again Saturday with a 7pm Newfie Time puck drop, which is 5:30pm here in Worcester.

Scratches for the Railers were the recently signed Billy Jerry and defenseman Jeff Solow. Jerry, a Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute alumni, was signed Thursday after the recalls of Collin Adams and Jimmy Lamber to Bridgeport. The 6-foot-4 forward had four goals and two assists in 21 games with the Adirondack Thunder over the last couple of seasons. Ken Appleby was the backup goaltender. Prior to the game, Worcester activated Anthony Repaci from the Injured Reserve list. The forward missed seven games with an upper-body injury.

With the recalls of Adams and Lambert, there will be no iron man for the Railers this season as now no player will appear in all 72 games for the team. Adams and Lambert were the last two to have a chance. The last time the Railers had an iron man was the 2018-2019 season when Barry Almeida played all 72 games. Tyler Barnes played in 71 games that season, and the reason for his missed game has become one of the great stories of Worcester hockey. Because an active fan is to blame we’ll refrain from posting it. Suffice it to say that Barnes and then head coach Jamie Russell were not amused.

Prior to the game, the Railers announced Friday’s game would be the 100th pro appearance for defenseman Noah Delmas. This writer doesn’t keep track of such things, so we’ll presume that Worcester’s Broadcasting and Media Relations Coordinator Tim Foley does. Delmas has played 82 ECHL games between the Railers and Kansas City Mavericks and 18 games for the EIHL’s Manchester Storm.

Over in the LFG Railers fans Facebook group Blake Christensen was last week’s “Railers Player of the Week” vote with 89% of the ballots cast. Jeff Solow, Colin Adams, and Jimmy Lambert were finalists but really didn’t have much of a chance against Christensen’s five-point week.

Taking a look at a few Worcester players on streaks, Blake Christensen has points in his last seven games, going 4-6-10 over that span. When Blade Jenkins returns from his recall to Bridgeport his three-game goal streak will be back in play. Brent Beaudoin has assists in five straight, and Phil Beaulieu has helpers for three games in a row. The recalled Jimmy Lambert has gone 11 games rated even or better. Ryan Mackinnon, also on recall, has gone eight games even or better in a row, Myles McGurty is at six games, and Adams and Jeff Solow have five-game streaks.

As we did last week, we’ll mention again that the Worcester Railers Booster Club is going a bit of online fundraising this weekend. If you’re a Massachusetts resident you can take part in their 50/50 raffle. The money raised goes toward many of the activities and charities the club supports. The club is also selling some amazing Jordan Smotherman t-shirts. (You should click the link just to see the shirt, trust me). The order form is for buying and picking up your t-shirt at Railers games, for shipping options send a Twitter DM to the club or email

The three stars of the game were:
1. WOR – 81 Anthony Repaci
2. WOR – 39 Henrik Tikkanen
3. NFL – 10 Zach O’Brien

The 210Sports Player of the Game was Blake Christensen.

Even Strength Lines
Newkirk / Beaudouin / Repaci
Christensen / Ryan / Butler
Vesey / Coughlin / Bross
Osik / x / Quinlivan

Beaulieu / McGurty
Brandt / Delmas
Evers / McCarthy

Our affiliates last night
Nashville 4, NY Islanders 1
Rockford 4, Springfield 2

In the ECHL’s North Division
Reading 6, Norfolk 3
Maine 4, Adirondack 1
Trois-Rivieres 4, Iowa 2

Worcester 2 2 0 – 4
Newfoundland 0 2 0 – 2

1st Period-1, Worcester, Repaci 3 (Beaulieu, Christensen), 10:28 (PP). 2, Worcester, Newkirk 7 (Beaudoin), 19:03. Penalties-Plouffe Nfl (tripping), 8:41; Quinlivan Wor (slashing), 15:05.

2nd Period-3, Newfoundland, O’Brien 6 (Joyaux, Gogolev), 2:05 (PP). 4, Worcester, Butler 6 (Ryan, Christensen), 5:04. 5, Newfoundland, Centazzo 13 (O’Brien, Joyaux), 13:58 (PP). 6, Worcester, Repaci 4 (Newkirk), 15:16. Penalties-McCarthy Wor (tripping), 1:34; McGurty Wor (tripping), 11:57; Evers Wor (tripping), 13:48; Repaci Wor (slashing), 17:16; Joyaux Nfl (interference), 17:27.

3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Centazzo Nfl (roughing), 8:45.

Shots on Goal-Worcester 9-5-9-23. Newfoundland 13-14-11-38.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 1 / 3; Newfoundland 2 / 5.
Goalies-Worcester, Tikkanen 8-1-0-0 (38 shots-36 saves). Newfoundland, Cavallin 7-2-0-0 (23 shots-19 saves).
Referees-Brendan Schreider (12).
Linesmen-Sheldon Keough (47), Mark Day (93).

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