Trenton Update: 1/11-1/17

Image courtesy TitansHockey

The Trenton Titans’ losing streak reached seven games before they pulled off an overtime winner on Wednesday morning against the Reading Royals. The Philadelphia Flyers’ affiliate only grabbed one point over the 0-6-1 stretch, as their last two wins have come in overtime against the Royals at Sun National Bank Center. The Titans will be in New York tonight before they travel home to host a pair of games against the leaders of the North Division.

Trenton started the week with a 3-1 loss to the South Carolina Stingrays in New Jersey on Friday. Both the Saturday and Sunday games at the Sun National Bank Center had questionable ice conditions with Friday night’s contest having massive puddles at both ends of the rink, which saw players fall over quite often. Despite the situation, former Trenton Titan Ryan Hayes registered the game-winner against his former team to put the Boston Bruins’ affiliate up 2-1 with 3:30 left in regulation. It was Hayes’ third goal with South Carolina and his sixth of 2012-2013. Andy Bohmbach had the Titans’ lone goal, as his 16th of the season, and second in as many games, tied the game with 8:53 left. Matt Beca opened the scoring for the Stingrays and Andrew Sackrison added on an empty-netter with one second left, as Niko Hovinen recorded 17 saves on 19 shots in the loss. The Finn lost his third straight game to watch his record drop to 4-6-3, as the Titans lost their sixth straight tilt.

The following day, the Titans lost to the same team, by the same score, at the same location. This time around, the only rough patch of ice was just beyond the blue line in front of the Titans’ bench, where players seemed to lose their edge constantly. Phil Mangan started the scoring for the Stingrays, as an attempt by Chris Langkow at the side of the net on the rush led to a rebound in front for Mangan with Scott Wedgewood out of the crease for an easy goal 3:12 into the middle stanza. Less than six minutes later, Tyler Johnson turned a Connor Goggin turnover in the defensive zone into a goal, as the South Carolina forward intercepted the pass and went in all alone on Wedgewood for a chance, which led to Johnson putting home his own rebound for his seventh of the season. The lead extended to 3-0 when Langkow entered the Titans’ zone on a 2-on-1 with Hayes and ripped a wrister that beat Wedgewood low glove side.

Bryan Haczyk, who played in his second game since November 28th due to an injury, ruined Jeff Jakaitis’ and his shot-blocking teammates’ shutout with his fifth of 2012-2013 to make it 3-1 with 2:36 left. Wedgewood suffered his fourth straight loss with 16 saves on 19 shots, as his team was held to one goal or less for a ninth time in their 36 games played up to Saturday. The Titans’ lowered to 0-2-2 against the Stingrays this season and lost their sixth straight to South Carolina dating back to last season, as Trenton concluded their seven-game losing streak with this defeat.

Image courtesy of Craig Forsythe

One highlight from Saturday’s loss, however, was the departure of Marcel Alvarez. The blue liner is a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and reported to Fort Benning, Georgia on Sunday after his final game as a Titan. “Today, it was emotional, but at the same time it’s time for me to move on,” Alvarez said after the game. “I had a couple weeks with a lot of great guys and they were all called up, which is awesome for them. Got to meet a couple new faces this week. Just in the whole organization, I’ve met so many great people and have so many memories, I don’t know where to start.”

On Wednesday morning, the Titans beat the Royals 4-3 in overtime to end their losing streak. Bohmbach registered his second of the game 4:33 into the extra frame, as he beat Sergey Kostenko with Trenton on the man advantage due to Nikita Kashirsky sitting in the box due to goaltender interference. Bohmbach recorded both of his goals in a span of 19:27, as his first of the game put the Titans ahead 3-2 in the third period. Ian O’Connor made it 3-3 with his second of the contest and 13th of the season with 10:17 left in regulation. The affair was forced to overtime after Justin Taylor couldn’t beat Kostenko on a penalty shot with just 5:05 left. Jacob Cepis scored his 11th of the campaign in the second period, while J.S. Berube, who played in his first game of 2012-2013, gave Trenton a 2-1 lead late in the middle frame. Wedgewood allowed three goals on 29 shots and stopped two shots in overtime to end his skid, as he improved his record to 11-11-2. The victory snapped the Titans’ losing streak and improved the squad to 2-6-1 in their last nine games with both of their wins coming in overtime against Reading.

With the NHL returning to action, both the AHL and ECHL saw a lot of transactions, something that head coach Vince Williams believes has played a role in his team’s downgraded play. (Williams on adjusting to new defensemen

Similar to last week, the Titans were involved in several transactions. One move was bringing back defenseman Ray DiLauro. The captain of the Titans earlier in the season, DiLauro was let go by the team in early December, but was brought back due to a back injury. Since DiLauro had a second opinion on his back, where the doctor said he had an injury that could hinder his play, the defenseman was brought back by the Titans and placed on injured reserve, since an ECHL team can’t release a player when injured. He most likely won’t ever play another game for the Titans, but he will finish out his contract with the team.

As for other movement on Trenton’s blue line, the team lost Eric Baier to the Providence Bruins and saw Tyler Hostetter return to the team before being recalled by the Adirondack Phantoms. Baier has played in three games Boston’s affiliate and has yet to record a point or a PIM. He also has an even plus/minus rating. Hostetter suited up for the win over the Royals, where he had an assist and two PIMs before he rejoined Adirondack, where he has yet to play a game.

The trio of Bohmbach, Haczyk, and Kelly Zajac all played a game in the AHL before being returned to the ECHL.

Bohmbach played in one game for the Worcester Sharks before coming back to the Titans. The captain suited up for the Sharks’ 3-1 loss to the Portland Pirates on January 13th, where he played on a roster that featured Jon Matsumoto, Mike Banwell, and Denny Urban.

Both Haczyk and Zajac played in a game for the Albany Devils, returned to Trenton, and then were immediately called back up to the AHL. Haczyk had an assist and a plus-1 rating, while Zajac had a goal and an assist with a plus-2 rating in Albany’s 5-4 loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on January 13th. The tandem participated in Trenton’s overtime win over the Royals on Wednesday, as both players posted an assist in the contest.

The Titans saw three players join the club this week, as J.S. Berube, Paul Lee, and Mike Ullrich either played in their first game of the year for Trenton or joined the franchise.

Berube took part in his first game of the year on Wednesday, where he had a goal, an assist, and two PIMs. He was also a member of the Albany Devils earlier this season, but didn’t participate in a single game for the club. Berube had five goals and 11 helpers for the Titans last season along with 12 goals and 18 assists in 44 games for Trenton back in 2010-2011.

Right-handed center Paul Lee joined the Titans’ roster on a loan from the Mississippi RiverKings of the SPHL. The Garden City, New York native had one goal, one assist, and four PIMs in four games this season with the RiverKings. Lee spent the seasons of 2008-2009 to 2011-2012 at Dartmouth College. He has yet to play a game for the Titans.

In a trade this week, according to Mike Ashmore of The Trentonian, the Titans acquired center Mike Ullrich from the Stingrays in exchange for future considerations. The 6’2″, 201-pound pivot had a goal and four assists in five games for the Stingrays this season. Ullrich also played for the Tulsa Oilers of the CHL, where he posted seven goals and 12 helpers in 29 games. One other stat worth noting is the forward is minus-26 this season for Tulsa. He was also minus-13 for Tulsa in 2011-2012 over 66 contests.

Tied with the Kalamazoo Wings in the standings with 35 points, the Titans currently sit in 12th place in the Eastern Conference thanks to the fact they have played in one less game than the Vancouver Canucks’ affiliate. Trenton looks to start a winning streak with a game in Elmira against the Jackals tonight, who are currently sixth in the East with 44 points.

The Titans then travel back to Jersey for games against the Cyclones on Saturday and Sunday. Goaltenders Michael Houser and Brian Foster are currently on the affiliate for the Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators, as well as former Titan Andrew Conboy and former Trenton Devil Dan Eves.