Railers Fall 4-2 in Regular Season Finale Against Reading
By Bill BallouWORCESTER – The Railers and Royals are sick of each other, that’s for sure. They have had encounter sessions five times in the last two weeks, seven times since New Year’s Day.It showed in the body language and chippiness Saturday at the DCU Center, a 4-2 victory by Reading in the last game of the season between the teams. The outcome disappointed a nice crowd of 5,121 on Pink in the Rink Night.Even so, the Railers would love to take on the Royals again in 2023 because if they do it will be in the playoffs.This was not a playoff-caliber game for Worcester. By the time the Railers got going it was too late for them to go anywhere. The Royals had a 1-0 lead before the game was a minute old, a 2-0 lead before it was four minutes old and a 3-0 lead with about five minutes left in the period.That early deficit actually provided Worcester with a chance to make a little franchise history. In five seasons, no Railers team has ever come back from a three-goal deficit to win.That achievement will have to wait.In the two weekend games the Railers gave up goals 26 seconds after the opening faceoff, then 34. That’s not a recipe for success, although Worcester rebounded to win Friday night.“If you give up a goal in the first minute of the game,” coach Jordan Smotherman said, “you’re not ready to play, and we had a couple of breakdowns we hadn’t had in a while — losing track of the guys behind us — that cost us goals.”Two former Railers got two of the Royals’ first three goals. Devon Paliani scored at 34 seconds, Max Newton at 14:56 and Evan Barratt in-between. It was still 3-0 after two, then the Railers got some life when Anthony Repaci scored a power play goal at 3:27.Alas, 10 seconds later miscommunication in the Railers zone led to a pair of Railers behind the net — including goalie Henrik Tikkanen — and nobody in front of it. The puck came to Alec Butcher and he took advantage to make it 4-1.Brent Beaudoin scored shorthanded late in the game to get Worcester to within a pair of goals again but that was as close as it got.Repaci and Beaudoin have helped carry the Railers offense the last few weeks. Repaci has points in eight straight games at 6-4-10. Beaudoin is 2-4-6 in his last three games, 2-8-10 in his last nine. Trevor Cosgrove assisted on both Railers goals and after being pointless in his first eight Railers games is 2-10-12 in the next 12.This was the final home game for Worcester in February. The Railers return to the DCU Center on March 3 versus Newfoundland and play all of their final 19 games against North Division opponents.“This will be huge for us and the playoffs,” Smotherman said, looking at the weeks ahead. “We have eight or nine (it is nine) games with the team right behind us in the division, Adirondack.”The upcoming road trip will last for six games, all in the south. Worcester plays two games at Norfolk next weekend, play Greenville the following Wednesday Feb. 22, then does a rare 3-in-3 against three different opponents in three different cities. The Railers play in South Carolina on Feb. 24, in Jacksonville the next night and take on Savannah for the first time ever on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 26.MAKING TRACKS – Conor Breen continued his unexpected emergence as the Railers muscle. He got 20 PIM in the third period, five of them for fighting, the rest for a check to the head. He has 27 PIM in seven games here after getting 4 in 21 games at Amherst College last season. … The Railers signed former Holy Cross forward Jake Pappalardo and he was in the lineup. Worcester is his third ECHL team this season, fourth in two seasons. His Southern League numbers with Birmingham are impressive. Pappalardo is 27-27-54 in 56 games with the Bulls over two seasons. … Reece Newkirk returned to action as Bobby Butler was rested. … Quin Ryan is the reigning Railers ironman. Saturday night was his 41st straight game in the lineup. … Worcester snapped its 15-game streak of being outshot, but lost. So much for that stat. … Beaudoin’s shorthanded goal was Worcester’s fifth of the season, first on home ice. … Newton’s goal brought his DCU Center career totals to 8-8-16 in seven games here including his time with the Railers. … Worcester finished the season series with Reading in the black, earning nine points in eight games.#AllAboutTheW
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