Trenton Update: 1/4-1/10

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

The Trenton Titans’ two-game skid turned into a five-game losing streak this week, as the squad dropped all three games on their schedule with a record of 0-2-1.

Just as the Flyers’ ECHL affiliate gained a lot of ground in the Eastern Conference with a winning streak a few weeks ago, the team dropped right out of the playoff picture with a losing streak, as Trenton sits 12th in the conference at the moment. A pair of tilts against a team three points ahead of them in the East and a contest against the team leading their division give the Titans an opportunity to grab some valuable points next week.

Trenton dropped their fourth straight game with a 3-2 overtime decision on Friday to the Nailers at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling.

Chris Barton recorded his ninth goal of the season 61 seconds into the extra frame off a feed from former Adirondack Phantom Luke Pither to give the affiliate for the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins the additional point. Niko Hovinen stopped 29 of the 32 shots the Nailers threw at him in defeat. Jacob Cepis cut the visitors’ two-goal deficit to one with his third goal as a Titan within the first two minutes of the second period, while Shane Harper tied the game later in the period with his first tally for Trenton. Cepis registered his third multi-point performance in a Titans’ uniform, claiming the primary assist on Harper’s equalizer. Paul Cianfrini was the only player on Trenton’s squad to finish with a rating better than even, as the blue liner posted a plus-1 in a game where his team was outshot 32-27.

On Saturday, the Titans played the same team at the same location and came nowhere near a victory, as they were trampled by the Nailers 5-0. Scott Wedgewood suffered the loss despite playing the opening six minutes, 38 seconds and allowing three goals on Wheeling’s first seven shots.

It was Wedgewood’s first game of the season where he posted a save percentage under .700, as Hovinen didn’t do that much better with 16 blocks on 18 shots. Paul Crowder potted a hat trick for the Nailers, while Scott Zurevinski and former Trenton Devil Ben Farrer scored for Wheeling in the win. Scott Darling recorded his second shutout of the year with a 27-save blanking, as the Titans were shut out for only the second time this season. Trenton dropped to 1-2-1 against the Nailers this season, as the team suffered their first loss by a five-goal margin since they lost to the Reading Royals 7-0 on March 24, 2012.

The Titans’ misery continued on Sunday with a 4-3 defeat at the hands of the Elmira Jackals at First Arena. Artem Demkov’s 20th of the season 38 seconds into the final period was the game-winner, as the forward capped a four-point contest. He is one of the league leaders in goals across the ECHL and produced his first four-point performance of the campaign. Cepis’ 10th and Andy Bohmbach’s 15th gave Trenton a two-goal advantage 11:19 into the affair before the Jackals tied the score at two 28 seconds into the middle frame with Danny New’s second goal of the year. Harper regained the lead for the Titans with his second goal in three games, but former Phantom Andrew Rowe made it 3-3 later in the period with his 16th of 2012-13. The trio of Kory Nagy, Kelly Zajac, and Matt Mangene recorded assists in the loss, as the Titans dropped five straight games for a second time this year. The one-goal defeat makes Trenton 6-6-5 in contests decided by one goal, in overtime, or a shootout.

With the lockout on the verge of being finished, the Titans’ roster saw a lot of movement this week. Since five players were recalled by an AHL team, Trenton inked five skaters to fill in the empty spots.

After the Titans saw Marcel Noebels, Ian Slater, and Blake Kessel leave for Adirondack last week, the squad saw an additional four players leave for the Philadelphia Flyers’ AHL affiliate this past week. Forwards Harper, Mangene, and Andrew Johnston all left for New York along with blue liner Tyler Hostetter.

Harper spent all of three games in Trenton, all of which were losses, as he registered two goals and two helpers in his brief time in New Jersey. He also was minus-3 and had eight shots on net in his first stint in the ECHL since he was a member of the Greenville Road Warriors when they lost in the 2011 Eastern Conference Semifinals to the Nailers in seven games. Three of his last four contests in the ECHL have been losses to Wheeling.

Mangene spent a little more time in Trenton than Harper, but he produced fewer goals with the Titans. In his 14 games with the team so far in 2012-2013, Mangene has six assists, a minus-11 rating, and 23 penalty minutes. He’s also played in four games for the Phantoms, where he has an assist in four games.

Johnston, like Mangene, has split time with both the Phantoms and Titans this season. However, he has experienced more time in the AHL than the ECHL. In eight games with Trenton, Johnston had one goal, six PIMs, and a minus-7 rating. In Adirondack, he had a goal in 10 games.

Hostetter was the Titans’ only defenseman to leave for Adirondack. He didn’t score a goal in 29 games, but he did have 11 helpers and an even plus/minus rating. He also posted 27 PIMs.

Another blue liner removed from Trenton’s roster this week was Ryan Grimshaw, who was loaned to the Toronto Marlies of the AHL. In 23 games with the Titans this year, the Rochester, New York native had three goals and three assists with four PIMs and a minus-2 rating. He has yet to play a game with the Toronto Maple Leafs’ affiliate.

To fill in all the holes in the Titans’ roster, the group of Gentry Zollars, Derrick Pallis, Aaron Schmit, Corey Tamblyn, and Brad Peltz were added to the club.

Zollars, who played in four games for the Orlando Solar Bears this season, has spent the majority of the year with the Danbury Whalers, the Titans’ FHL affiliate. He had four goals and 18 assists in 23 contests for Danbury, as well as four shots on goal for the Solar Bears. Zollars also played for Trenton last year, posting two assists in 13 tilts.

Pallis is a 23-year-old d-man who also played for the Titans last season, as he had one assist and a minus-9 rating in nine contests. He has spent the entire campaign so far with the Fort Worth Brahmas of the Central Hockey League, where he accrued two goals and six helpers in 25 games.

Schmit is a right winger who will experience his first taste of the ECHL with the Titans, as the 24-year-old will join his fourth different team in 2012-2013. He was the captain of the Ferris State University Bulldogs in 2011-2012 and played in three games with the Quad City Mallards of the CHL this season. Schmit has spent most of this year with the Pensacola Ice Flyers of the SPHL, where he had two goals and four helpers in 17 contests with 24 PIMs and a plus-2 rating. He also suited up for a pair of games with the Huntsville Havoc in the SPHL.

Since his time as a Clarkson University Golden Knight last season, Corey Tamblyn has played for two ECHL teams and one SPHL team before being signed by the Titans. In 2011-2012, Tamblyn had two goals in nine games for the Jackals. This year, he had an assist in two games with the Idaho Steelheads, as well as six goals and 10 assists in 21 games with the Mississippi Surge of the SPHL.

In addition to these signings, the Titans added left winger Brad Peltz. A seventh-round pick of the Ottawa Senators in 2009, Peltz was assigned to Trenton by the Binghamton Senators. After he spent 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 at Yale, Peltz participated in 12 games for the Jackals this season. He had two goals, two assists, and 10 PIMs along with a plus-2 rating.

On top of all the moves that actually happened, it was announced on the Titans’ website that defenseman Marcel Alvarez will play in his last game with Trenton on Saturday. Alvarez is a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and will depart for Army Ranger School in Fort Benning, Georgia on the 13th. The Titans will celebrate Military Appreciation Night on Saturday for the blue liner, who has a goal and two assists in 13 games for Trenton this season.

The Titans host the South Carolina Stingrays tonight and tomorrow night before they host the Royals Wednesday morning.

If the Titans can win the pair of games they have against the Stingrays, they can catch the Boston Bruins’ affiliate in the standings. With a record of 16-18-4, South Carolina is 10th in the East with 36 points. It will be Stingrays’ forward Ryan Hayes’ first time playing the Titans since he left the squad in late December.

Reading is 21 points ahead of the Titans with having just played two more games than Trenton, so the chances that the Royals lose the division to the Flyers’ affiliate don’t seem too likely. However, every game in the heated rivalry is important for Trenton, as the club is looking to grab a playoff spot come season’s end. Reading is on a three-game winning streak and has won eight of their last 10 games.