In a schedule quirk, the Trenton Titans’ last five games have all come against the Reading Royals. The Titans lost every single one of those contests and are currently on a six-game losing streak, as they have gained only one point in the process.
Three of Trenton’s losses to the Royals came this past weekend, as the club was minutes away from ending their losing streak.
After coming up short in both of the clubs’ meetings last week, the Titans dropped last Friday’s meeting in a 2-1 affair at the Sun National Bank Center. Bryan Haczyk leveled the game at one with his third tally of the season 67 seconds into the third period. Unfortunately, Kirk MacDonald responded with the game-winning goal for Reading just 1:48 later. Yannick Tifu assisted MacDonald on the decisive goal after he opened the scoring with his fourth of the season early in the opening stanza. Scott Wedgewood left the game with 13 saves on 14 shots after the second period, as he hit his head on the crossbar after Andrew Conboy and Tifu collided into him. Niko Hovinen had six saves on seven shots in relief and suffered the loss. It was the second straight game the Titans lost by a score of 2-1 to Reading.
It was the same story on Saturday, as they Royals claimed a win by a count of 4-1 at the Sovereign Center. Trenton found itself down by two early after MacDonald and David Vallorani scored 31 seconds apart. Late in the first period, Marcel Noebels had a chance to pull the Titans to within one on a penalty shot, but the forward was unable to beat Brandon Anderson. Less than three minutes after the failed penalty shot attempt, Denny Urban extended Reading’s lead to three with his fourth of the season. Down 4-0 in the third period, the Titans broke up Anderson’s shutout bid on the man advantage. With Patrick Wellar in the box for a delay of game minor, Pier-Olivier Morin potted his first goal in the ECHL off of assists from Blake Kessel and Jason Akeson. Trenton’s frustration with their losing streak and losing to the Royals could be seen in the loss, as the Titans engaged in three different fights.
On Sunday, the Titans were just minutes away from a win when Reading tied the score late before winning 4-3 in a shootout.
With just 1:42 left in regulation, Royals’ forward Ian O’Connor beat Hovinen to send the contest into overtime. After a scoreless extra frame, Urban and David Marshall netted tallies for Reading in the shootout, while Haczyk was the only Titan to beat Philipp Grubauer. To make the defeat even more frustrating, the Titans blew a pair of leads in regulation to extend their losing streak to six games. Andy Bohmbach potted a goal in the first period and second period only to see Vallorani and Alex Berry score for Reading to even the score late in the middle frame. Bohmbach completed his hat trick early in the third period before O’Connor tied the game again late in the tilt. The shootout loss was Trenton’s first since their 3-2 decision to the Royals on March 23 of last season. The six-game losing streak is the Titans’ first losing streak of such length since they lost the last six games of the regular season last year, as they lost to the Royals four times.
There is a lot of concern for the Titans. After the squad won four of their first five games, Trenton has now lost six of their last seven and sit 12th in the 14-team Eastern Conference with a record of 5-6-1. Part of their problem might be the lack of scoring goals. With 33 goals in 12 contests, the Titans are 13th in the conference in goals for with only the Wheeling Nailers sitting below them, as the affiliate for the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins has produced 29 tallies in as many games as the Titans.
The six-game losing streak, where the Titans’ are 0-5-1, is tied for the longest current losing streak in the league with the Las Vegas Wranglers. The Royals, on the other hand, have the second-longest winning streak in the league with seven thanks to their domination of the Titans. The only team that is hotter than the Royals at the moment is the Gwinnett Gladiators, the Phoenix Coyotes’ affiliate, who have won eight straight.
As for transactions, the Titans were busy when it came to trading, as the squad completed a pair of trades.
In a trade with the Kalamazoo Wings, the Vancouver Canucks’ affiliate, the Titans sent defenseman Mitch Versteeg to Michigan in exchange for forward Justin Taylor. The forward was enduring his third year with the Wings, as he posted two 20-goal seasons in his only two full seasons with Kalamazoo.
Another trade for Trenton resulted in the San Francisco Bulls, the San Jose Sharks’ affiliate, sending left winger Kelsey Wilson to the Titans in exchange for future considerations. Wilson enjoyed five seasons in the AHL, four with the Milwaukee Admirals and one with the Toronto Marlies, as well as one season with EC Salzburg in the Erste Bank Eishockey Liga (Austria’s elite ice hockey league), where he won the Continental Cup.
In other moves, a pair of forwards were removed from the Titans’ roster this week. Luke Pither was recalled on loan by the Adirondack Phantoms, while Alexander Beauregard was released from his Standard Player Contract (SPC).
Goaltender Eric Swanick was added to the roster after Wedgewood was injured in Friday’s game, but he was released on Tuesday. He didn’t see any ice time in his time with Trenton.
The Titans have a pair of games this weekend, both of which come against the Elmira Jackals at First Arena. The two-game series is crucial, as the Ottawa Senators’ affiliate is only two points ahead of the Titans in the standings. Both Andrew Rowe and Rob Bellamy are on Elmira’s squad, as the pair of contests is the first time the clubs will see each other this season.