Titans beat Reading, lose Hovinen

Image courtesy of NJ.com

The Trenton Titans stayed undefeated with their 3-1 win over the Reading Royals last night at the Sun National Bank Center, but they lost Philadelphia Flyers’ goaltending prospect Niko Hovinen in the process.

Scott Wedgewood replaced Hovinen early in the second period and didn’t allow a single goal against, while Marcel Noebels potted the game-winning goal later in the period. Andy Bohmbach led all players with two points, as the Titans improved to 3-0-0 for the best record in the ECHL.

After he stopped 10 of the 11 shots thrown at him in the first period, Hovinen denied the first shot attempt he saw 25 seconds into the second period. Unfortunately, his save was a shot that hit the prospect in the collarbone and forced him to drop to the ice. Hovinen eventually raised himself off the ice and reached the bench with the team’s medical staff beside him, but he didn’t return to the contest. No announcement was made about the injury after the game.

In Hovinen’s absence, Wedgewood came in to stop all 20 shots he saw for his second win of the season.

“It might be a little more natural right now because of the preseason,” Wedgewood said about coming into the game cold. “We play halves in preseason and training camp. I started the other night and it was a little more different than coming in actually. I wasn’t expecting it, but you’ve always got to be prepared to go in if it happens.”

Titans’ head coach Vince Williams believes Wedgewood and his teammates responded well after Hovinen left the contest. “He came in there pretty calm and made some pretty big saves. We battled a little bit harder. We had to make sure we made his job as easy as possible.”

Less than eight minutes after Wedgewood entered the game, Noebels gave Trenton the decisive goal. Bohmbach saw Philly’s 2011 fourth-round draft pick past the Royals’ defense and hit him with a pass that stretched from Trenton’s blue line to Reading’s blue line. Noebels took advantage of the breakaway opportunity, as he deposited the puck top shelf after he deked Royals’ goaltender Philipp Grubauer with a move from his forehand to his backhand.

Williams talked about the skill showcased by Noebels on the goal. “It was a great read, great pass, and a great finish. For Marcel, a young kid who scored his first pro goal, to be able to get that goal with a guy on your back you can see his skill set.”

Blake Kessel opened the scoring with a power-play goal 3:07 into the game. With Reading’s Dustin Stevenson in the box for high-sticking, Andrew Conboy moved the puck a matter a feet from the Royals’ goal line to the bottom of the circle for Bohmbach. A shot from the forward created a rebound to Kessel with a wide open net, which led to his first ECHL goal.

Phil’s brother talked about the importance of the goal for the Titans.”The power play was moving the puck well. Getting off to a good start like that is something we talked about in the locker room and the power play was able to make it happen.”

With just under five minutes left in the opening stanza, Royals’ forward David Marshall tied the game at one. A weak shot from Adam Comrie at the Titans’ blue line floated in on Hovinen, but the goaltender was unable to glove the disc for a whistle. Instead the puck bounced off his glove to the ice, where Yannick Tifu grabbed it for a pass across the crease to Marshall for an easy tap-in.

Also in the first period, Trenton’s Ian Slater and Reading’s Ian O’Connor fought. O’Conner managed to pull Slater’s jersey over his head and landed a few weak punches before taking Slater down to the ice.

To cap off the Titans’ win, defenseman Ray DiLauro found the empty net with just 42 seconds left to secure the decision. In the defensive zone, DiLauro managed to bank a clear high off the glass and over the Royals’ defense. The clear resulted in the puck gliding down the ice and eventually across the goal line at an agonizing speed that Reading’s skaters couldn’t prevent.

Trenton hopes to stay unbeaten through this weekend, as they visit the Evansville IceMen on Friday and the Cincinnati Cyclones on Saturday. The IceMen are an affiliate for the Columbus Blue Jackets and the St. Louis Blues. The Cyclones are an affiliate for the Florida Panthers and the Nashville Predators.

Notes: The Titans were 1-for-5 on the power play, while the Royals were 1-for-3…DiLauro, Noebels, and Mitch Versteeg led all skaters with a plus-2 rating…The Royals are 0-3-0 on the season. They are 0-2-0 against the Titans this year…Wedgewood is 2-0-0 on the season with 51 saves on 53 shots…Bohmbach leads all Trenton skaters with six points this season (1 goal, 5 assists). Noebels and Jason Akeson each have a goal and three assists for four point seasons…Tyler Hostetter and Luke Pither are the only two skaters to play in all three games this season who have yet to record a single point…Out of the seven ECHL teams who have already played three games, the Titans have allowed the fewest goals against with four. The Ontario Reign, the affiliate for the Los Angeles Kings, are second with nine.