By Bill BallouWORCESTER – About two hours before the puck was dropped at the DCU Center Friday night, Railers coach Jordan Smotherman was asked to list the players not in the lineup because of injury.He grabbed a magic marker and drew big dots next to some names on the lineup sheet. When Smotherman was done, the Railers roster looked like it had come down with chicken pox.Minus 10 players and outshot by 43-17, Worcester prevailed in overtime anyway. The Railers beat the Reading Royals, 4-3, on Jimmy Lambert’s breakaway goal at 1:16 of the fourth period.It was a four-point night for Lambert, the only Worcester pro player ever born in Great Britain. His other three points were assists on Anthony Repaci’s hat trick, the Railers’ second of the season and the second of his pro career.The victory was not the Railers’ first of the season, but it was probably Worcester’s best character triumph.“It absolutely was,” Smotherman said. “We talked to the guys before the game and asked them to really step it up and they did.”Repaci scored at 4:47 and 9:16 of the first period, then finally 36 seconds after the start of the second. The hat trick was Worcester’s second this season and ninth all-time, 10th counting Nick Saracino’s in the 2017-18 playoffs. It is a very good strategy. The Railers have never lost a game when one of their players scores a trifecta.Repaci went nine games without a goal from Dec. 21 to Jan. 27, but has five in his last six games.“We’ve had some leadership really soar in the last couple of games,” Smotherman said, “and with Repaci getting the hat trick, that’s easy to say, but the way he’s been playing lately without the puck is the biggest difference.”The goals moved Repaci past Ross Olsson into second place on the franchise’s all-time list with 35. Repaci has 35 in 98 games. Olsson had 33 in 99 including a couple of hat tricks.Barry Almeida is the all-time leader by a lot with 60 goals.“It’s just the game of hockey,” Repaci said of his hot streak. “You look at even the hottest players in the NHL, the great goal scorers, and sometimes you’re hot, sometimes you’re not. You’ve just got to stick with it. That’s the biggest thing. I did my best not to get frustrated when the chances weren’t going in.“The good thing is you’re getting chances.”Once again Henrik Tikkanen was superb. Worcester has been outshot by 95-40 in the last two games, both against Reading, and come away with four points. He used all of his 6-foot-8 frame to make saves, including his mouth. Tikkanen took a shot off the mask 16 seconds into the second period and wound up losing parts of two front teeth.The rookie looked like a Finnish piranha as he smiled after the game.Lambert has been fabulous since coming down from Bridgeport. This has helped the Railers win, but may get him back up to the American Hockey League soon. Ah, the connundrum of the ECHL.Lambert is 3-6-9 in three games since returning to Worcester. The Railers are 18-5-1 overall this season when he is in the lineup.Reading got two goals from Charlie Gerard and one from Mason Millman. Gerard’s power play goal at 14:36 of the third period eventually sent things into overtime where Lambert scored on the Railers’ only shot.Brent Beaudoin found him alone on the left side and Lambert flashed into the Reading zone where he snapped a high backhander past Nolan Maier. Overtime has been a good time for the Railers this season. They are 5-3 in OT plus 2-0 when it goes to a shootout.Aside from the injured list, Worcester lost Blake Christensen to better money in Europe. He was suspended so the Railers could retain his rights. However, Worcester got Jacob Hayhurst back from Springfield and he made an immediate impact as he helped set up Repaci’s second goal. The Railers replenished the roster by signing defenseman Tim Faulkner and forward Paul Boutoussov, both rookies, and both in the lineup Friday night.Boutoussov, from Babson, made his pro debut.“I have to give him a shout-out,” Smotherman said, “for coming in from a desk and a men’s league and giving us a really good performance.”The newcomer was one of several Railers in the right time and right place to produce the right result.MAKING TRACKS – The Railers got the benefit of video replay on what would have been Reading’s third goal at 4:14 of the third period. Referee Trevor Wohlford ruled that Tikkanen, who was flat on his stomach when Millman shot the puck in, had been interfered with. … After losing nine straight to Reading, Worcester has beaten the Royals four in a row. … Noah Delmas returned to the lineup after a six-game absence. … Christensen played 71 games in two seasons here, almost exactly the equivalent of a full season. He was 26-25-51 in those games. … The Railers and Royals meet again at the DCU Center Saturday night. … Figure this one out — the 52 shots Worcester allowed in Reading last Tuesday were the third highest in franchise history. The Railers are 3-0-0 in those games. … The Royals Booster Club took a bus up from Pennsylvania and its members were a noticeable presence in the building. They will be at Saturday’s game, also. … Attendance was 3,049.
Repaci, Lambert Each Shine in Railers 4-3 Win Over Reading
Saturday, February 11th
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