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Railers Beat Up Lions 4-0

Saturday, March 2nd
Railers Beat Up Lions 4-0

By Bill Ballou

WORCESTER – Heading into Saturday night the Railers gotten at least one point this season every time they had scored at least four goals and had earned two points every time they did not allow the opposition to score.

No surprise there, of course.

The night turned out to be a double play for Worcester as it beat the Trois-Rivieres Lions, 4-0, with John Muse making 30 saves for his second shutout of the season, the 19th of his North American career.

Attendance was 5,720 and almost everybody stayed for the entire 60 minutes. The Railers continued their trend of playing well in front of big crowds this season. They are 4-1-1 when there are 5,000 or more fans in the DCU Center.

Blade Jenkins is in Hartford, and Anthony Repaci and Ashton Calder are banged up, so Worcester’s lineup was short 50 goals. The slack was taken up nicely by four scorers who have 20 combined for the year. Connor Welsh, Reece Newkirk, Jack Quinlivan and Andrei Bakanov had the goals.

Anthony Callin had three assists to take over the team lead in that department with 27. He was also plus-3 for the night. Welsh also had an assist and was plus-2 for a nice night against his former team.

“It was my first team as a pro,” Welsh said, “so it definitely feels good to have a good night against them; maybe a little bit more special than it would have against another team but overall, we’re just happy we got the win. That’s the most important part.”

Shutouts have not been common results for Railers goaltenders through the years. Saturday’s was merely the 14th in their 400 games, the sixth at the DCU Center and the first here since Henrik Tikkanen beat Greenville, 7-0, on Nov. 19, 2022.

Mitch Gillam is the only Railers goalie with more than two career shutouts. He had six, five of them in 2017-18.

“I think it’s a testament to how well we played the whole 60 minutes,” Muse said. “Obviously we were pretty disappointed with our performance the past two weeks, so I think that coming out and putting a full 60 minutes together was huge for us, a statement for us.”

Worcester led 3-0 after two periods and Bakanov backhanded home a rebound at 3:48 of the third period to give the Railers a convincing lead. Hardly anybody left the DCU Center, though, and there were 42 minutes of penalties in the final 20 minutes of the game.

That including fighting majors to Worcester’s Ryan Dickinson and the Lions’ Nicolas Lariviere, who had 13 PIM for the night and has 116 in 43 games for the season.

After accumulating 10 majors in the season’s first 44 games the Railers have had seven in the last seven games.

“That has been a big point of emphasis for us, physicality,” coach Jordan Smotherman said. “We don’t necessarily have to run guys over but just get a little piece of them.”

Welsh scored from the bottom of the left circle to put Worcester ahead, 1-0, at 2:34 of the first period. Newkirk made a nice play to find room at the bottom of the circles and make it 2-0 at 1:30 of the second period. It was his 31st goal for the Railers, fifth-most in team history.

Quinlivan’s deflection at 19:28 of the second period gave the Railers a 3-0 advantage and Bakanov delivered a killer goal with Worcester on the power play in the third.

“He gets better every game,” Smotherman said of Quinlivan, who had one of his best performances as a Railer. With Repaci out, Quinlivan, Welsh and Trevor Cosgrove are serving as three alternate captains. They combined to go 2-2-4 and plus-4 for the night.

All seven North Division teams played Saturday night. The winners were Worcester, Newfoundland, Norfolk and Adirondack. That mean the Railers jumped from sixth place to fourth both in points (52) and winning percentage (.500).

They play the Lions again at 3:05 Sunday afternoon and will be looking to win two in a row for the first time Feb. 2 and Feb. 3.

MAKING TRACKS – The game was the 400th in Railers history. Their record is 179-181-40. They were 49-39-12 in their first 100 games, 39-50-11 in their next 100, 50-42-8 in the next 100 and 41-50-9 in their most recent 100. … Bakanov has goals in back to back games for the second time in his Railers career. … Jenkins was in the building but strictly as a spectator. … Injured defenseman John Copeland turns 25 on Sunday, Jake Pivonka turned 24 last Thursday and goaltender Cole Ceci will be 26 on Monday. … The crowd pushed the Railers above the 800,000 mark in all-time attendance.

#RailersHC

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