All that separates the Toledo Walleye, the team sitting fifth in the Eastern Conference, and the Evansville IceMen, who sit last in the Eastern Conference, is 10 points. With that being said, a team that was in the Trenton Titans’ position of being out of the playoff picture can quickly change with a string of wins. Over the last two weeks, that’s exactly what the Titans have done to move from the bottom of the conference to seventh in the East. Hopefully Trenton can keep the momentum going this weekend, as they take part in a home-and-home with the dreaded Reading Royals.
The week started with a 6-3 victory over the IceMen at the Ford Center last Friday. Andy Bohmbach led the Titans to their third six-goal game of the season, as his goal and two assists handed him his third three-point tilt of the campaign. Blake Kessel provided three assists for his first three-point performance in the ECHL and extended his point streak to four games. Ryan Hayes opened the scoring with his third tally of the season 13:11 into the opening stanza, while the trio of Connor Goggin, Phil DeSimone, and Kory Nagy, who produced his first game-winner of the season, scored their second goals of the year. Jacob Cepis registered his eighth of the season late in the third period, as Niko Hovinen stopped 26 of 29 shots to see back-to-back wins for the first time in 2012-2013. Trenton is 3-0-0 against Evansville this year.
The Titans finished their stay in Indiana with a 5-2 win over the Fort Wayne Komets at the Memorial Coliseum on Saturday night. Jacob Drewiske potted a pair of goals in a game for the second time this season, as his second goal of the tilt, and sixth of the year, was his first game-winner in the ECHL. Marcel Noebels opened the scoring with his 10th tally of 2012-2013, as he recorded his second game with at least three points this year with the addition of a pair of helpers later in the victory. Tyler Hostetter also had a multi-point game, as his two assists gave him his second multi-assist performance of 2012-2013. Stephen Schultz netted his ninth tally of the year and assisted on Noebels’ goal to give him six points over a three-game span dating back to Trenton’s 5-4 overtime loss to the Elmira Jackals on the 15th. Scott Wedgewood produced his third win in his last four decisions with a season-high 39 saves on 41 shots to increase his record to 9-7-2, as the Titans’ won back-to-back games by multi-goal differences for the first time since they opened the season with a pair of multi-goal decisions.
Trenton concluded their week with a 2-1 overtime victory over the Royals at the Sun National Bank Center. After Adam Comrie put Reading ahead early in the middle stanza, Ryan Grimshaw provided the equalizer with just 6:55 left in regulation to send the game into overtime. The extra frame lasted all of 26 ticks before Noebels beat Philipp Grubauer for his 11th of the year to extend his point streak to seven games, a stretch where he has racked up five goals and five assists. Noebels, who has 18 points in the month of December, gave the Titans their first overtime decision of the year and their first since they handed the Chicago Express a 5-4 overtime loss in Illinois on March 18th. With the primary helper on Noebels’ winner, Kessel extended his point streak to six contests, where he has registered one goal and seven assists. Wedgewood compiled his third straight win with 29 saves on 30 shots, as the New Jersey Devils’ prospect experienced his third one-goal game this season. The Titans improved to 3-4-1 against Reading this year with the victory, as the Philadelphia Flyers’ affiliate have snagged 13 points in their last seven games.
Thanks to their first five-game winning streak since the end of the 2009-2010 campaign, the Titans sit seventh in the Eastern Conference with a record of 14-11-4. Before they went on their current stretch of 6-0-1, Trenton was fighting to edge out the Wheeling Nailers to not be the last team in the conference. The Titans are still looking to stay ahead of the Nailers, but now both teams sit in a playoff spot, as Trenton has 32 points and Wheeling is one of four teams on the Titans’ tails with 30. The Komets, Orlando Solar Bears, and South Carolina Stingrays also have 30 points, while the Jackals sit in 12th with 29. Ahead of the Titans are the Walleye, who sit in fifth with 35 points, and the Florida Everblades, who are placed in sixth with 34 points.
DeSimone accomplished something no other Titan has this season when he was named the Sher-Wood Hockey ECHL Player of the Week for the week of December 17th through the 23rd. In that span of time, DeSimone potted three goals and recorded two helpers to earn a case of pucks that will be donated to the Trenton youth hockey organization. Fittingly for DeSimone, he was recalled by the Albany Devils after he earned the honor.
Andrew Johnston returned to the Titans’ roster after some time with the Adirondack Phantoms. He suited up for Trenton’s win last night, as he went pointless with two shots on net.
Another major transaction for the Titans this week was the departure of Ryan Hayes and the addition of former Flyer David Laliberte. Hayes was shipped to the Stingrays for future considerations, while Laliberte, according to Mike Ashmore of The Trentonian, has signed a contract with the Titans.
As for action on the ice, Trenton will travel to Reading tonight to play the Royals before they return home to host the same opponent tomorrow night. The Royals lead the Atlantic Division by 12 points, but the season isn’t halfway done yet and a pair of victories for the Titans will cut the lead to eight points with five more head-to-head meetings. Trenton also needs to worry about their other two divisional rivals in the Nailers and Jackals. The Titans have nine more games against Wheeling and 10 contests against Elmira.