ECHL: Worcester Railers Off-Season Moves

The Worcester Railers look to bounce back after their late-season collapse, which saw them lose their playoff spot on the final weekend of the regular season to the Adirondack Thunder. Worcester, so far this off-season, has already brought back eight players from the 2022-23 season, signed one new player that they acquired in a trade with the Kansas City Mavericks back in July, and added another new face to their roster as they now have filled 12 of the 21 roster spots, teams are allowed to carry 21 players for the first month of the season. Let’s take a deeper look at each player that the Railers have locked up as they look to get back on track next season.

Anthony Repaci

There’s no question that the Railers wanted Repaci back after he was a major part of their team last season, as he led the team in assists and finished the year second in both goals and points and after being on an AHL deal with Springfield last season, Repaci will be on an ECHL deal for the 2023-24 season. Repaci is entering his fourth season in the league as he spent his first season in the league with the Orlando Solar Bears before signing with the Railers for the 2021-22 season. It was a career year as he scored 27 goals and 27 assists for 54 points. The 28-year-old forward also led the Railers with 11 PP goals last season. There’s no question that Repaci will be on the Railer’s top line come opening night vs Adirondack.

Adam Goodsir

It was indeed a strong start for the 24-year-old winger coming out of Long Island University, where he put up 15 goals and 19 assists for 34 points in 35 games, and his success carried right into Worcester as he had picked up all five of his assists in his first three games vs Maine Mariners. There’s a lot to like about Goodsir, as he isn’t afraid to shoot the puck, as he had at least one shot on goal in nine of his ten games last season. It was a short glimpse of what Goodsir is able to do, and there are high expectations for him in his Sophomore year as he could prove to be a vital part of the top six for the Railers.

Blake Christensen

Heading into the 2023-24 season, the Railers are hoping to get back the Blake Christensen from his rookie year, where he put up 18 goals and ten assists for 28 points, as his numbers dipped a touch last season as he only put up eight goals and 15 assists for 23 points. Christensen began last season with the Railers but finished the season in the Swiss league with HC Thurgau as he played four games in the playoffs, putting up a goal and two assists, but will be returning to North America for next season. The 27-year-old center has also seen action in 21 AHL games throughout his career, where he found the net twice. Before going pro, Christensen attended American International College, putting up 48 goals and 71 assists for 119 points. He is the all-time leader during their DI era and was the program’s first DI All-American. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him start on the second or third line for the Railers to start the season.

Nick Fea

Fea was one of those players who gets the call-up from the SPHL and took advantage of his opportunity; in 18 games with the Birmingham Bulls, he put up ten goals and nine assists for 19 points before being called up to the Railers, where he put up eight goals and eight assists in 29 games and got on a roll as half of his goals came in the last ten games of the season, including goals in the final two games of the season. For a guy like Fea, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him on the second line once the season begins to give him a chance to prove his worth. During his college career, he was a second-team all-conference in all four years.

Max Johnson

Johnson re-joins the Railers after being acquired from the Wheeling Nailers in February and was a big part of the Railer’s penalty kill last season, one which struggled most of the year and finished the season 21st in the league at 77.9%. He’s a third-line guy for the Railers who’s going to help out on special teams but won’t do much offensively; however, in his first two seasons at Bowling Green University, he up a combined 32 goals but only has only hit the double-digit goal tally once since. In his rookie year at Bowling Green, he was named to the WCHA All-Rookie team; Johnson spent his final season of legibility at the University of Wisconsin.

Anthony Callin

Anthony Callin followed in the footsteps of his brother Drew Callin as he signed his first pro contract with the Railers after finishing his collegiate career. In his final season with the Clarkson Golden Knights, Callin put up 11 goals and eight assists for 19 points in 35 games as he captained the Golden Knights in his final season; in all five years as a Golden Knight, Callin put up 34 goals and 36 assists for 70 points in 147 games. In 13 games with Worcester, he put up two goals and five assists for seven points and earned himself a contract for next season.

Blade Jenkins

The 2018 fifth-round pick of the Islanders spent his first two pro seasons in the AHL with the Bridgeport Islanders, and this season would split his time between Bridgeport and Worcester. In 26 games with the Islanders, he would put up a goal and two assists, but in Worcester, he would put up eight goals and 15 assists for 23 points, as six of those 23 points would come in five games vs Adirondack Thunder. Before being drafted by the Islanders, Jenkins would spend three seasons with the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League, putting up 59 goals and 84 assists in 143 games, including back-to-back 20-goal seasons. Heading into next season, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Jennings get more playing time down in Worcester, where he could easily be a guy who could put up 20-25 goals next season and play in the top six for the Railers.

Artyom Kulakov

Kulakov returns to the Railers blueline after one goal and one assist for two points in seven games, putting up one goal and one assist, as his goal came in his first ECHL game. At 6’2, 216 lbs, Kulakov is not afraid to throw his body around, as he had 95 minutes in 50 games in his second season with Erie. In two seasons with the Otters, he had five goals and 11 assists for 16 points. Prior to joining the Sting, Kulakov spent one season in the MHL, where he had four goals and eight assists for 12 points in 29 games. Heading into next year, I would expect Kulakov to be a regular on the Railers blueline.

Keeghan Howdeshell

Howdeshell was acquired by the Railers in a trade that sent defencemen Jared Brandt to Kansas City. The 25-year-old forward will be playing for his fifth ECHL team since entering the league during the 2019-20 season, as he’s spent time with the Jacksonville Icemen, Rapid City Rush, Toledo Walleye, and Kansas City Mavericks. In 164 ECHL games, he’s put up 38 goals and 61 assists and is just short of the century mark for career points. He’s a guy who will play a full 200 ft game and can help improve a Worcester PP that finished the year 11th in the league at 20.9%. It wouldn’t be a shock to see Howdeshell slide into the top four in his first season in the North Divison.

Mike Higgins

Mike Higgins is headed back home after spending last season in Slovakia and Finland after finishing his collegiate career at Holy Cross. In three years with the Crusaders, Higgins had five goals and ten assists for 15 points in 81 games. In 39 games in Finland with Tuto Hockey, he put up six goals and nine assists for 15 points. The Needham, MA native is the Railer’s second blueliner signed to a contract for the upcoming season and should be a guy who will likely see the bottom four minutes this season, depending on how the Railers continue to construct their blueline.

What’s Left For The Railers

So far, the Railers have taken care of their roster up front and will now look to solidify their defense and work on finding goaltending for the upcoming season. I wouldn’t be surprised if, heading into next season, the Railers blueline looks a lot different than it did this season after they finished 23rd in the league last season, giving up an average of 34 shots per game to opponents. However, they did a great job of staying out of the box as they committed the least amount of penalties in the entire league.

Armand Klisivitch

Inside The Rink ECHL Manager | Senior Editor Credentialed Reporter for the Adirondack Thunder & Worcester Railers.

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