By Bill BallouWORCESTER – The Railers are slowly re-assembling the roster that ranked among the best in the ECHL during the season’s first two months and it is showing up on the scoreboard.They beat the Newfoundland Growlers, 3-1, Friday night, the Growlers still holding a healthy lead atop the North Division. The key performer for Worcester was a player from that early-season powerhouse who has recently returned from Springfield, Jacob Hayhurst.He figured in all three Railers goals with one of the goals and a pair of assists.It has been a common theme throughout the season. Players go up to Bridgeport or Springfield, return to Worcester, and excel.“It’s the guys in that (dressing) room, it’s a combination of things,” coach Jordan Smotherman said. “It’s the culture we’ve built here. In the past it may have seemed guys took it as a punishment to come here, but we’ve tried to create an atmosphere where you can come to Worcester and maybe play a little more frequently and have a little more fun and that’s exactly what’s happened.”Bobby Butler and Nick Fea had the other Worcester goals. Nolan Walker scored for Newfoundland. It could have been a 6-1 game, but Growlers goaltender Luke Cavallin was superb keeping his team in it.Hayhurst is 5-8-13 in 11 ECHL games and the Railers are 9-2-0 with him in the lineup.“Obviously, you’d like to play at the highest level you possibly can,” Hayhurst said, “so it would be nice to be up. But when you have such a good group here as this group, a solid team with a good guys and great coaches, it’s nice to be back.“As far as why guys come down and seem to play well, I think it’s because you’ve adjusted to a different pace up there and when you come here you notice that you have a little extra time and a little more space and that makes you better.”It was a night for streaks, one way or the other.Anthony Repaci’s franchise-best 14-game points streak ended, although he had a shot at a empty-netter with two seconds left and sent it wide from his own blue line. Butler’s goal snapped a 15-game drought for him and defenseman Jared Brandt picked up an assist on the play, his first point in nine games.Railers goalie Ken Appleby, solid all night with 24 saves, snapped a personal four-game losing streak during which the Railers totaled five goals in front of him.The odd streak?Here’s a suggestion — the Railers do the national anthems at the start of the second period, not the first. Friday marked the third straight home game they’ve allowed a goal in the first minute of the first period on the first shot of the game.Walker’s goal came 37 seconds after the first faceoff.Butler tied it at 17:57 of the first period as his shot from the right side hit a Newfoundland stick and detoured past Cavallin. Fea tucked one in from just outside the right post 49 seconds into the second period then Hayhurst scored at 8:35 on what is a candidate for the season’s most exciting goal.Butler got him the puck in the neutral zone, then Hayhurst turned the Growlers defense at the right circle and snapped a 12-footer under the crossbar as he was falling to the ice.Hayhurst had a shorthanded breakaway in the third period that Cavallin stopped and Brent Beaudoin hit metal at 11:03. They were just two of several great Railers chances in the final 20 minutes.MAKING TRACKS – Josh Victor made his Railers’ home debut and established a couple of precedents. Of the 677 different players who have skated for Worcester pro teams, he is the first product of Fitchburg State and the first player from Texas. … Liam Coughlin returned from the injured list after missing 12 games … Timothy Faulkner and Paul Boutoussov were released. … The Growlers are here again Saturday night. It will be the final regular-season game between the teams. … Attendance was 3,149, lifting Worcester over the 100,000 mark for the season. … Dominic Cadieux was the referee and has done the last three Railers games in Jacksonville, Savannah and now Worcester. … Repaci was 10-11-21 during his streak. Beaudoin, who did not register a point Friday night, was 4-12-16 in that same span.#AllAboutTheW
Hayhurst Scores Goal and Two Assists in Victorious Return to Worcester
Saturday, March 4th
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