ECHL Game Recap: Trois-Rivières Lions vs Worcester Railers | 04/12/24

Worcester Railers/ECHL

The Worcester Railers and the Trois-Rivieres Lions met in Quebec last night for the first of three matches and had quite the game. If they won on Frida Night, the Railers would still be in a position to clinch a Kelly Cup Playoff spot, which is their first since the 2017-2018 season. Last night’s win just helped put them on a better points path to do that. With all the issues surrounding the Lions, we have yet to determine what condition we will see the team in when they play since they haven’t played since April 2nd, when the only other Canadian ECHL team folded. Fortunately, the Lions brought it last night, but it wasn’t enough to win over the Railers. 

Railers Coach Jordan Lavallee-Smotherman said in a pregame interview, “There’s a lot of excitement for us today. It’s about understanding that excitement and what our team looks like on paper has absolutely nothing to do with the outcome of this game tonight. We need to be the harder-working team. We need to be the team that executes at a much higher level than the team that just wants it more than they do in every situation.”

In the first period, we saw some great plays and hits by both teams, with the Lions’ Jonathan Yantsis scoring the first goal at 6:09. This is Yantsis’s first goal of the season as a professional and with TR; previously, he was with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. This is the eighth straight game in which the Railers have allowed the opposing team to score the first goal. We saw some pushing and shoving between the team when Railers Jenkins had some thoughts to share with Lions Nolan Yaremko. This didn’t lead to any penalties, but it started the rise of emotions that soon led to Lions Justin Ducharme and Railers Arytom Kulakov pushing and shoving, which led to them being laid out on the ice. This is the first time I’ve seen two players go down like they did and then pop back up to continue their pushing and shoving, slowly losing their gloves as they roughed their way to the corner of the rink, where they lost their gloves. They never came to legit blows, but there was a lot of grabbing and elbows. We saw a few more sharing of words and pushes, but the Railers saw their first goal when Ashton Calder found the back of the net, tying the game 1-1. Our final big move of the period was when rookie Yantsis was called for a delayed penalty of Hooking Railers Jake Pivonka, which will lead us to the second period starting on a Power Play. The Lions saw four shots on goal, and the Railers saw seven in net for the Lions Strauss Mann, who has a 2.59GAA and 0.910SV%, in net for the Railers, Henrik Tikkanen, who holds a 3.18GAA and a 0.893SV%.

Rich LeBlanc/InsideTheRink

They are starting the Second period with 1:57 left on the PP for the Railers. The Railers are 16.5% on the PP with only 37 goals scored this season on the 224 opportunities they have had. The power play ends, and we see a roughing call against the Railers for Zsombor Garat, who has had some unresolved issues with the Lions since January. This time, he’s called for taking Nolan Yaremko to the ice. Lions PK unit comes out; they are 77.7% on the PK, with 188 killed out of 242 opportunities. With the penalty ending, we saw both teams battling to find the net. At 11:31, we saw Lions Miguel Tourigny make the game 2-1. The goal had some noise attached to it but was found good by the referees. Lions Justin Ducharme gives us our second Penalty for the second period when he is called for Slashing Railers Blade Jenkins in the Lions D-zone. Less than 40 seconds into the Power Play, the Railers’ Reece Newkirk scores, killing the PP and tying the game 2-2. The period continued with the Railers trying to take the lead and the Lions battling not to let that happen. 

Starting the third period, both teams came out energized, leading us to our first penalty, 1:16. Nolan Yaremko and Arytom Kulakovs got into behind the Railers net. Kulakov was just voted “Tough Guy of the Year” by the Railers Booster Club, and with four Major Fighting Penalties this year, we know why. But only Yaremko is penalized in this, putting the Railers back on the PP. With no scoring on the PP, play continued aggressively between both teams, leading to John Parker-Jones making a wrong decision and getting the Penalty for Cross-Checking Railers Connor Welsh to the ice from behind. On the Power play again, the Railers find the back of the net with Trevor Cosgrove behind the shot, putting the Railers up 3-2. This goal would be the game-winning goal. The teams finished the period with one more penalty hitting the board when Captian Anthony Repaci called for Hooking. The game would close out with the Lions having 34 shots and the Railers having 19, showing they were the better team on the ice. 

These teams meet twice this weekend; both games are at 3 pm EST. The Railers are 32-30-5, and the Lions are 29-30-5. 

Stephanie DeLaFleur

Beat Writer covering the ECHL Savannah Ghost Pirates, NHL Vegas Golden Knights and AHL Henderson Silver Knights. Follow me on X @StephiDelafleur

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