Trenton Update: 12/14-12/20

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The Trenton Titans started to climb out of the ECHL’s Eastern Conference cellar this week by winning three of their four contests. In addition to the six points they gained in their three victories, the Titans earned a point in their only loss this week, which came in an overtime defeat at home. Trenton also showcased their offensive abilities by scoring 18 goals over the four-game span, as they potted at least four goals in each tilt. The Titans look for more points this week when they take on the team at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, a team currently two points ahead of them in the standings, and a team they have struggled against all season.

The Titans started the successful week with a 4-2 victory at home against the Wheeling Nailers last Friday. With the game tied at two halfway through the third period, Justin Taylor picked the best time to score his first goal as a Titan with an attempt that beat Nailers’ goaltender Scott Darling with 12:40 left in regulation. Kelly Zajac led Trenton’s offense with his second two-goal game in a three-game span, as he potted the first goal of the game and answered former Titan Matt Germain’s game-tying tally in the middle of the second stanza. Eric Baier capped off the win with an insurance goal with under five minutes left in the contest for his second goal of the year to end a 17-game goalless streak. Scott Wedgewood ended his three-game losing streak in net for Trenton, as he stopped 32 shots from the affiliate for the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins to set his season high for saves in a victory. The decision ended a four-game losing streak for Trenton and snapped a seven-game streak without a win in regulation.

The following day the Titans invited the Elmira Jackals to the Sun National Bank Center and suffered a 5-4 defeat in overtime. Artem Demkov deposited his second goal of the affair with 1:09 left in the extra frame to give the visitors the additional point. Former Phantom Andrew Rowe recorded his third two-goal game of the year, and second against Trenton, as the Jackals beat Wedgewood five times in the win on 34 shots. Stephen Schultz had three points in the loss, as his goal and two helpers gave him his second three-point performance in a four-game span before Elmira scored two goals in the final 8:03 to send it to overtime. Both Andy Bohmbach and Marcel Noebels had a goal and an assist in the loss, while Ryan Hayes registered his second goal of the year to end a seven-game goalless streak that dated back to Trenton’s first game of the season. Wedgewood allowed five goals against or more for the third time this season, as the Titans’ overtime record dropped to 0-2 in 2012-2013.

Trenton returned to the win column on Sunday with a 5-1 thumping of the Orlando Solar Bears in the clubs’ first ever meeting. Marcel Alvarez opened the scoring with his first ECHL goal 5:33 into the match, while Jacob Cepis potted his seventh of the season with the game-winner late in the opening stanza. Cepis recorded his first three-point contest with the Titans and his second of the season, as the forward had the secondary assist on Alvarez’s goal and the primary helper on Blake Kessel’s third of the year, which ended a 19-game drought, in the third period. Noebels scored for the second straight game and recorded his fourth point in three games with his eighth tally of the campaign, while Ian Slater netted his sixth of the year with just under nine minutes left in regulation to make it a four-goal advantage for Trenton. Niko Hovinen earned the win with 25 saves on 26 shots against for his third victory of the year and his fourth decision where he allowed one goal against. The win was the Titans’ second four-goal win of the season and improves their record to 2-3 in tilts decided by four goals or more in 2012-2013.

The Titans ended their four-game homestand by beating the Jackals with a 5-4 victory. Down by one late in the third period, a pair of goals from Phil DeSimone and Bohmbach just 29 seconds apart gave Trenton the advantage with just 3:12 left in regulation. DeSimone also had an assist in his first ECHL game, as the Washington Capitals’ 2007 draft pick played a few games with the Albany Devils this season and spent all of 2011-2012 with the Hamilton Bulldogs, the Canadiens’ AHL affiliate. Noebels found the back of the net to extend his goal streak to three games, while Jacob Drewiske ended a 10-game drought with his fourth of 2012-2013 and Ryan Grimshaw potted his second to cancel a 12-game goalless stretch. Cepis had two assists to record back-to-back multi-point games, as the forward has recorded five points in the last two games. Wedgewood had 26 saves on 30 shots for his second win in his last three decisions, as the Titans went 1-for-2 on the man advantage in the victory.

This week was a positive week for the Titans on several levels. For one, they climbed several spots in the Eastern Conference standings. After being just above the Nailers for last in the conference, the Titans are now sitting in 10th tied with the Solar Bears with 26 points. Trenton only sits one point behind the Jackals for ninth in the conference.

Secondly, the Titans’ offense clicked for all the games in the homestand. With a pair of four-goal games and a pair of five-goal games, Trenton’s 18 goals in their last four games is the most goals in any four-game span this season and is the most goals in such a span since they potted 20 tallies in a 2-1-1 stretch from February 15th to February 19th last season.

Trenton also won three games in a four-game stretch for the first time since they beat the Toledo Walleye 4-1 on October 26th to become 5-1-0. They have gone 6-10-4 since that win against the affiliate for the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings.

As usual, the Titans’ roster experienced several changes during the span of this week. One minor transaction was the bereavement leave by Matt Mangene. The forward missed Trenton’s win over Orlando on Sunday. He had three assists and was minus-2 in the Titans’ other three games this week.

A pair of productive forwards were placed on injured reserve this week, as both Zajac and Schultz missed action. After a two-goal game against the Nailers last Friday, Zajac missed the Titans’ last three tilts. Schultz played in Trenton’s first three games of the week, but missed the team’s second game against the Jackals. He had a goal and four assists with a plus-4 rating in the three contests in which he appeared.

On Wednesday, Andrew Johnston was transferred to the Adirondack Phantoms. He has yet to play a game for the Phantoms since his return.

The last huge roster move by Trenton this week was the addition of DeSimone. The center had a goal and an assist as well as two PIMs in his first game with the Titans. He had one goal in five games with the Albany Devils this season, as well as 14 goals and 19 helpers in 76 games last season with the Hamilton Bulldogs.

The Titans endure a two-game road trip before they finish the week off with a game at home on Thursday, as they look to keep moving up the standings. The trio of contests starts tonight, as the Titans travel to Evansville to take on the IceMen. The affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets and St. Louis Blues sits at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a record of 10-16-3. Evansville’s roster boasts AHLers Anton Blomqvist, Brett Ponich, Cody Beach, Jim McKenzie, Nathan Moon, and Anthony Nigro. Flyers’ 2005 draft pick Josh Beaulieu is also on the IceMen’s roster.

On Saturday, the Titans take on the Fort Wayne Komets, the Anaheim Ducks’ affiliate. A squad that features Kenny Reiter, Josh Brittain, Luca Caputi, and Matt Kennedy is eighth in the Eastern Conference with two more points than Trenton. The most noticeable player on Fort Wayne’s roster is Garrett Klotz, a Flyers’ third-round draft pick in 2007 who never suited up for the Orange and Black.

The Titans finish the week in Trenton on Thursday with a tilt against the Reading Royals. Sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference, the Royals have dominated the Titans this season with a record of 4-2-1. Reading’s roster features Adam Comrie, Patrick Wellar, Joel Champagne, Kirk MacDonald, and David Marshall.