PORTLAND, ME – March 9, 2022 – Through the first nine games of the “VIP Rivalry Cup,” the road team in the Mariners/Railers season series couldn’t find a way to win. With Worcester’s 6-3 victory on Wednesday night at the Cross Insurance Arena, the visiting team has now won the last four. The Railers tightened the gap in the race for the fourth and final North Division playoff spot.
The game remained scoreless until the 15:33 mark of the first when Cole Coskey took a feed from Smotherman and beat Stefanos Lekkas with a wrister. Coskey’s goal was the only one of the opening 20 minutes.
Ross Olsson got an early power play goal in the middle frame but it was quickly answered by Marc-Olivier Duquette, who tipped home a pass from Tyler Hinam to get the Mariners on the board. Worcester was denied a power play goal midway through the period after a video review overturned Bobby Butler’s goal due to goaltender interference. Eventually, the Railers got their 3-1 lead when Brent Beaudoin beat Lekkas off a nifty circle-to-circle feed from Nolan Vesey at 13:18. With just over two minutes left, Smotherman added to the Railers lead, when Lekkas’ attempted clear to the corner went off Jason Horvath and allowed for Smotherman to tip it over the line. The Mariners stayed in the game however with another quick answer – Hinam finding the net for himself this time, set up by his linemates Nick Jermain and Conner Bleackley 51 seconds later.
Down by two entering the third, the Mariners pushed back hard, but Railers goaltender Colten Ellis made some big saves to keep Worcester’s lead intact. At 10:43, Jacob Hayhurst put Worcester back up by three when he finished a feed from Vesey. Once again, the Mariners hung around, quickly responding with Brendan Robbins’ deflection goal off a Taylor Egan shot. But Smotherman’s empty netter finally sealed the game.
Ellis stopped 36 of 39 while Lekkas made 24 stops on 29 Railers shots. Worcester climbs within 0.09 percentage points of the Mariners for the fourth and final playoff spot in the North.