Jordan Lavallee-Smotherman Scores Twice in Railers 4-2 Victory Over Adirondack on Pink In The Rink Night
Railers close out weekend Sunday afternoon at 1:05pm at the DCU Center
By Bill Ballou
WORCESTER, Mass. – The Westboro guy, the captain, the 35-year-old former NHLer, Jordan Lavallee-Smotherman scored two goals including the game winner as Worcester won a crucial divisional game versus Adirondack, 4-2, Saturday night.
Rookie Connor McCarthy and Nolan Vesey had the other Railers goals. Between them, Smotherman and McCarthy have 291 professional goals. Smotherman has 290 of them.
“People have no idea what he brings to the team,” Railers coach David Cunniff said. He’s having a great season. He’s a great player. You talk about a guy who’s trying to get better — whatever age he is, 18, 19, is that what he is? That’s what it seems like.
“The energy level he brings, the excitement. He really loves the game, and he’ll be around the game for the rest of his life I’m sure.”
To top it off, Smotherman scored those two goals wearing the wrong number. Due to some miscommunication with the manufacturer, Smotherman’s Pink in the Rink jersey was 58, not 14. Some athletes are superstitious about such things — not Smotherman.
“I don’t want to make Todd (MacGowan, the equipment manager) have to change my number,” Smotherman said. “You know, maybe if I was wearing 14 the puck wouldn’t have bounced over my stick in the last minute.”
Adirondack goalie Brandon Kasel was out of the net and Smotherman had a chance at a hat trick.
The Railers retrieved the puck from McCarthy’s first pro goal. He added an assist on Vesey’s empty-netter and also recorded his first multi-point game.
“He’s taken some big steps forward for us,” Cunniff said of the tall rookie. “We’ve asked him to be assertive in several different areas and he has really improved. He’s earned his minutes. He hasn’t been given anything.”
The Railers scored the game’s first two goals and last two goals. They were sandwiched around a pair of goals by Thunder forward Nicholas Rivera.
McCarthy’s goal came at 3:25 of the first period. It took a while get that first one. It was McCarthy’s 34th game as a pro, 24th with the Railers. Vesey set it up with a long pass from the right corner to the left point. McCarthy’s high wrist shot through traffic beat goalie Brandon Kasel over his right shoulder.
After the game, McCarthy wasn’t sure if he’d get the puck, but it was indeed rescued. And if Kasel didn’t see it go in, McCarthy did and it was a bit of a relief.
“Even if I don’t score the rest of the year,” he said, “one is definitely better than none.”
McCarthy had not been involved in the offense very much early in the season and had merely 10 shots on goal before this one went in. However, five of those had come in the previous four games.
“For me, just shooting the puck is my offensive game,” he said, “but I think it starts in the defensive zone, doing the little things.”
After McCarthy’s ice-breaker, Smotherman expanded Worcester’s lead to 2-0 less than four minutes later. He was just outside the crease near the left post when he controlled a bouncing puck and flipped it over Kasel’s blocker.
Rivera scored on the power play at 11:26 of the first period then tied it 15:30 of the second. It was a nail-biter the rest of the way and Smotherman finally put Worcester back ahead at 10:48 of the period. It was a power play goal, a sizzling wrist shot from the right circle.
Vesey, who was 1-1-2 and plus-2, hit the empty net at 18:49.
Anthony Repaci and Jacob Hayhurst both had two assists. Colten Ellis continued the Railers’ streak of excellent goaltending with 29 shots and is 5-0-2 in his last seven appearances.
MAKING TRACKS_Attendance was 6,958. That is the second-largest of the season and eighth best ever for the Railers. They are 5-3-0 in those eight games. … Smotherman is the first “58” in Worcester hockey history. … The teams play again at 1:05 p.m. Sunday, the early start due to the Super Bowl. It is a quick turnaround, but fair in that neither team played on Friday night. … Felix Bibeau returned from Bridgeport where he was 0-3-3 in 16 games. It was his first appearance for Worcester since Nov. 19. … Bobby Butler and John Furgele went on injured reserve, joining Grant Jozefek while rookie Matt Sredl came off that list. Ken Appleby is back with Bridgeport and Jimmy Poreda was Ellis’ backup. Nick Albano, Chris Ordoobadi, Ethan Price and Myles McGurty all did not dress. …The game featured another new referee in Brett Roeland. … Governor Charlie Baker did the ceremonial puck drop.