The Trenton Titans lost their seventh straight last night at the hands of the visiting South Carolina Stingrays on Military Appreciation Night at Sun National Bank Center. Marcel Alvarez and his teammates couldn’t do enough to beat Jeff Jakaitis and his shot-blocking partners, as Trenton saw the goaltender stop 32 of the 33 shots they threw at him. Scott Wedgewood had 16 saves on 19 shots, as three players who participated in the loss last night won’t be on the team today.
The story of the night was Alvarez. On a night dedicated to 2nd Lieutenant Alvarez, the blue liner was minus-1 with a shot on net. Later today he will travel to Fort Benning, Georgia to begin his four months of training for infantry base to officer course.
“It was emotional, but at the same time it’s time for me to move on,” the hero said in his Army fatigues after what will most likely be his final game. “It’s a tough feeling, especially when I think people were a little bit surprised I could play at this level and maybe move up a level if given the opportunity. But, I have my commitment and I have to honor that.” Alvarez said the people he met along the way as well as his first goal will be what he remembers most with the Titans. He also talked about how Trenton might be able to call him up if they are on the road against these Stingrays or the Orlando Solar Bears. (Alvarez talking about his plan in the Army, Alvarez army plan)
“Outstanding character and a good human being,” Titans’ head coach Vince Williams said of Alvarez after the defeat. “We might see him down the road here. We’d have him back in a heartbeat.” Williams then joked how if the Titans called up Alvarez they would, “pull him out of the woods and parachute him in.” (More of Williams on Alvarez)
The Titans honored Alvarez with a special presentation before the game, which included a ceremonial puck drop with Alvarez at center ice.
As for the game, Trenton couldn’t solve Jakaitis or South Carolina’s defense. On top of Jakaitis’ season-high 32 saves, the Stingrays’ defense blocked several shots. Williams stated he believed one of the team’s positives in the loss was they had sustained pressure at times, but he also said 15 to 20 of Trenton’s shots were blocked. Trenton may have had strong offensive pressure at times, but they couldn’t produce many scoring chances throughout.
In addition to their inability to create any real scoring chances, the Titans’ defense didn’t do too well. On all three goals a d-man was beat and two of the goals could be blamed entirely on the defense. Williams believes a lot of this is due to the fact several players have left Trenton, some of which were defensemen.
“It’s part of the business,” Williams said. “You’re talking about replacing guys that are top scorers, top defensemen. You’re trying to find those guys somewhere. Where are they if they aren’t playing somewhere? These aren’t excuses. We have to put out the best possible team we can given the parameters.” (More of Williams on adjusting to new defensemen)
On top of the players that left the squad since the middle of December, as well as Alvarez, the Titans are believed to be losing Bryan Haczyk (Haczyk on coming back, new teammates) and Kelly Zajac. Williams didn’t state who was going to leave the team after the loss, but Haczyk had his bags packed in the hallway after the game and Zajac was scratched.
After an evenly played first period, the Stingrays jumped out to a 1-0 lead thanks to Phil Mangan’s ninth goal in 2012-2013 just 3:12 into the middle stanza. Chris Langkow worked his way past a defender to the outside and produced a shot that Wedgewood saved, but left a rebound in front while he slide out of the crease. With a wide open net, Mangan knocked it home.
Less than six minutes later, Tyler Johnson made it a two-goal lead for South Carolina with his seventh of the year. Johnson intercepted a Connor Goggin pass in the Titans’ zone before he walked in on Wedgewood all alone. After his initial shot was denied by Trenton’s netminder, Johnson grabbed his own rebound and beat Wedgewood high short side.
The Titans’ frustration was shown shortly after Johnson’s tally, as Alexandre Carrier and Scooter Vaughan pushed each other in the neutral zone before their gloves were dropped, which resulted in a stoppage of play. Despite both players’ gloves being dropped, neither player received a penalty of any sort and stayed on the ice after play resumed only to scrap in the Titans’ zone seconds later. It wasn’t much of a fight, as Carrier wrestled Vaughan to the ice and threw a few punches before the refs intervened.
The Stingrays carried the two-goal advantage into the third period before Langkow registered his second point of the game. On a 2-on-1 with former Titan Ryan Hayes, Langkow skated along the players’ benches and into the Titans’ zone before he ripped a shot from the middle of the circle that beat Wedgewood low glove side to make it 3-0 South Carolina. Williams stated after the game that the 2-on-1 was created due to the fact a defenseman slipped and fell out of position.
Haczyk potted his fifth of the season later in the period, but it was too little too late. The forward carried the puck along the players’ benches and beat a defender at the Stingrays’ blue line before he whipped a shot past Jakaitis’ blocker with 2:36 left in regulation.
Although the Titans pulled Wedgewood, they couldn’t produce two more goals and suffered yet another loss.
Trenton looks to end their seven-game skid on Wednesday morning, when they host their hated rival the Reading Royals. The Washington Capitals’ affiliate has lost two straight.
Notes: The losing streak is Trenton’s longest of the season. It’s the team’s longest streak since they lost nine straight last season from February 26th to March 16th…Since the Titans’ last win was a 2-1 overtime victory, the team hasn’t won in regulation in eight games…Wedgewood has lost his last four decisions. He has a .869 save percentage in that span…Alvarez had a goal and two assists in 15 games this season. He finished with an even plus/minus rating and four PIMs…In addition to Zajac, forward Brad Peltz was a scratch. He had a shot on net and five PIMs in his first game with Trenton on Friday…The Titans were 0-for-2 on the power play. South Carolina was 0-for-5…After horrible ice conditions on Friday, the ice was much better with the exception of an area behind the blue line in front of the Titans’ bench. Several players slipped near that area throughout the night…The Titans are tied for last in the Eastern Conference with the Kalamazoo Wings, who are the Vancouver Canucks’ affiliate. Both the Evansville IceMen and Orlando Solar Bears have 34 points…Trenton owns the longest losing streak in the ECHL at the moment. The Titans have one overtime loss, three one-goal losses in regulation, two two-goal losses, and one five-goal loss during the streak.