Railers Set Franchise Home Record With Eight Goals in 8-5 Win Over Fort Wayne
Colten Ellis makes 50 saves in net for Railers
By Bill Ballou
WORCESTER, Mass – It is one of the most venerable cliches in sports, and it is true.
In order to be the best, you have to beat the best and the Railers did that Saturday night, one of the strangest nights — maybe the strangest — in the city’s hockey history.
Worcester triumphed over the defending ECHL champion Fort Wayne Komets, 8-5, in a game that featured more pucks in the nets than fans in the seats.
With the city in a state of emergency and travel embargoed, there were no paying customers in the DCU Center, only paid employees of the hockey team and the building.
Those folks — probably fewer than 100 — saw a game that often resembled 60 minutes of 3-on-3 overtime, except that for the bulk of the night the play was 5 on 5.
“We found a way to win,” Railers coach David Cunniff said. “It wasn’t pretty at times, but that’s a competitive team. They were the league champions last year and there’s a reason for that. They’ve got a great coaching staff and some great players.”
Worcester’s eight goals were scored by Brent Beaudoin, Jordan Lavallee-Smotherman, Anthony Repaci, Collin Adams — all in the first period — and by Blake Christensen and Will Cullen, both getting a pair in the third period.
Cullen, by the way, was plus-5. The Railers have had three defensemen tie the franchise record in that department in the last two games.
Lynden McCallum scored twice for the Komets. Shawn Boudrias, Zach Porchiro and Matt Alvaro had the other Fort Wayne goals.
The Railers not only scored early in the first period, they scored often. Worcester got goals from Beaudoin, Lavallee-Smotherman, Repaci and Adams in the game’s first 14:23.
It amounted to four goals on nine shots. That was enough for Komets coach Ben Boudreau to replace starting goaltender Zachary Bouthillier with Mario Culina.
McCallum mixed in a Fort Wayne goal during that barrage and it was 4-1 after Adams’ goal.
As has happened too frequently this season, the Railers gave one right back after scoring. Boudrias scored it at 15:42 on a second rebound, then McCallum made it a one-goal game with one of those “ouch” goals in the final minute of a period.
He scored at 19:08 on a fluttering puck that hit something, or someone, in front of Colten Ellis and dropped in under the crossbar.
The Komets finally tied it in the second period with Porchiro scoring from right in front at 12:25. The score stayed at 4-4 after 40 minutes even though Fort Wayne had a 40-23 edge in shots on goal. The Komets seemed to have the momentum, but Ellis had a great third period to keep the Railers in the game.
“I think we let up on the gas,” said Beaudoin of Worcester’s struggle after taking an early lead, “and started cheating the game a little.”
His goal came nine seconds after the opening faceoff, setting a Worcester hockey record for the earliest one ever. Graham Mink and Andrew Desjardins had both scored 11 seconds into the game for the Sharks.
At least Mink and Desjardins heard some cheering. Beaudoin was not sure how to react. There were no goal judges, so no red light either.
“It’s definitely interesting when there are no fans in the building,” he said, “and I didn’t even realize at first that the puck had gone in, so I was kind of going off the reaction of the other guys on the ice.”
Beaudoin’s goal was not the only record set, or approached, Saturday night.
Ellis made 50 saves, the second-most in Railers history after Mitch Gillam’s 54 in Brampton on Dec. 19, 2018, a 3-2 victory. The 55 shots allowed are second-most ever after that Brampton game; Worcester has won both.
Ellis’ record improved to 6-4-0. While his raw numbers aren’t sensational, he has been able to make saves at crucial spots in the game, like Saturday night. Worcester would not have won without him.
The eight goals were the most ever scored by the Railers on home ice, and tied for their most ever anywhere and they have scored 21 in their last three games, their most-ever in that length.
Worcester has won four in a row. The Railers’ longest all-time winning streak is six from March 28 to April 7, 2018.
MAKING TRACKS_The Railers traded rookie defenseman Karl Boudrias to South Carolina for future considerations. He was 0-8-8 and plus-4 with 15 PIM in 23 games. … Defenseman Myles McGurty received a nasty cut on the face early in the first period. There was a lot of blood on the ice, but McGurty returned to action later wearing a shield and assisted on Christensen’s first goal to snap a 24-game pointless streak. … These same teams are at it again at 3:05 Sunday afternoon. … There were two players on the ice who skated in the Railers’ inaugural game on Oct. 14, 2017. One was Lavallee-Smotherman, who played for Manchester. The other was Fort Wayne forward Kellen Jones, who had an assist for the Railers in their 4-3 victory. Jones split that season between here and Bridgeport and played well during his time in Worcester. He had two assists Saturday night… John Furgele’s high sticking penalty in the first period was the 1,000th minor in Railers history. The first was a slashing penalty on Willie Raskob in that aforementioned Manchester game. … One thing noticeable with no fans in the seats is that the coaches have very inventive vocabularies.