Stephen Schultz potted four power-play goals and Scott Wedgewood stopped everything he saw, as the Trenton Titans dominated the Reading Royals 6-0 last night at the Sun National Bank Center. Connor Goggin and Jacob Cepis also found nylon in the victory, while the pair of Blake Kessel and Kelly Zajac each had three assists in the easy win.
Derrick Pallis, Bryan Haczyk, and Jesse Todd each had an assist in the win as well, as the Titans provided one of their most impressive wins in years.
“I don’t know, must have been the ice cream I had for lunch today,” Schultz joked after his performance. “‘Zaj’ kept putting the puck on my stick and I was able to handle it to put it in the net. That’s pretty much how the night went.”
Special teams played a huge role in the Titans’ win last night, as the hosts were 4-for-7 on the man advantage and killed off all four of the power plays they handed the Royals.
On top of their special teams’ play, Wedgewood and the Titans did more than enough to keep Reading off the scoreboard. If Wedgewood wasn’t there to make a ridiculous save, there was a Titans’ defenseman there to clear the puck or block a shot. The Royals may have missed some opportunities to erase the goose egg, but Wedgewood made incredible saves throughout to earn the shutout.
As for Schultz’ remarkable night, it started in the first period with Brett Flemming in the box for holding. A cross-ice feed from Zajac at the bottom of the circle to Brandon Anderson’s left was pounded home by Schultz with a one-timer at the point to beat Anderson high blocker side before the Royals’ netminder had time to move over. The forward’s 17th of the season came 3:36 into the first period to give his team the early lead, but he wouldn’t stop there.
Nearly 11 minutes later, Schultz put home another power-play tally to extend his team’s lead to two with under six minutes left in the opening period.
With both Brock Shelgren and Dustin Stevenson in the sin bin, Trenton had 1:17 to work a 5-on-3 advantage. On the two-man advantage, Kessel was left alone at the top of the slot, where he let go of a shot that wreaked havoc in the crease. While Anderson dropped to the ice, a scramble for the puck ensued in the blue paint with Titans and Royals fighting for possession before Schultz was finally able to find the back of the net with 5:32 left in the first stanza.
After the Titans walked away from the first period with a two-goal lead and a 12-8 shot advantage, Schultz scored his final two tallies in the middle stanza.
Cepis drew a tripping minor out of Julien Cayer to put Trenton back on the power play, where they converted for the third time in the game.
Needing almost no time at all, Zajac set up Schultz with another cross-ice feed for a one-timer, as Zajac stood in the circle to Anderson’s left and threw it over to Schultz in the opposite circle. Schultz third goal of the game, which handed him a natural hat trick, didn’t receive much recognition, as only a few hats hit the ice in celebration of the forward’s achievement.
Less than two minutes later, Zajac set up Schultz for his fourth of the night on another Titans’ power play.
With David Civitarese in the sin bin for hooking, the Zajac cross-ice feed, for a third time on the night, set up a Schultz’ one-timer that beat Anderson for a power-play goal. Schultz was beating the Royals by himself, as Trenton enjoyed the four-goal lead with 11:58 left in the middle period.
Late in the second period, Wedgewood was run over by Ethan Cox, as Titans’ blue liner Aaron Schmit pushed Reading’s forward into the netminder. Wedgewood struggled to stand up after the collision and the play was blown dead to allow Trenton’s goalie to recover. Luckily for the Titans, Wedgewood was fine after a brief inspection from the trainer and remained the game. Trenton’s goalie entered the final 20 minutes with 18 saves to his credit.
In the final frame, somebody other than Schultz scored for Trenton, as Goggin and Cepis both displayed amazing individual plays to put the puck past Anderson.
After a brief surge from the Royals to start the third period, Goggin scored his seventh of 2012-2013 to extend the home team’s lead.
Trenton’s d-man controlled the puck at the point after some cycling from the hosts before he slowly walked in on Anderson by himself. With a quick shot fake, Anderson dropped to his knees, which allowed Goggin to move to the goalie’s side and roof a shot on a wide open cage to make it 5-0 Trenton with 13:15 left in regulation.
With the game already in Trenton’s favor, Cepis put home his 16th of the campaign to pour it on for the Titans over their divisional foe.
Cepis controlled the puck along the boards to Anderson’s right and skated in on the goalie along the bottom of the circle. Cepis sold a fake wrist shot by moving his hands and kicking up his right skate to make the netminder drop to his knees, just like Goggin. While the goalie dropped to the ice, Cepis flew behind the net and tucked home a wraparound attempt to make it 6-0 Trenton with 5:41 left in the tilt.
Besides a brief scrum at the benches with 1:12 remaining, which resulted in 10-minute misconducts for both J.S. Berube and Yannick Tifu, the final minutes of the contest went smoothly for the victorious Titans.
The Titans hope to carry this momentum into the clubs’ meeting tomorrow, which will take place at 4pm in Reading at the Sovereign Center.
Notes: Last night was Wedgewood’s first shutout in the ECHL. It’s his first blanking since his 32-save shutout as a Plymouth Whaler against the Kitchener Rangers on April 14, 2012 in the 2012 OHL playoffs…Last night’s shutout also marks the first time Trenton has produced a shutout since they changed their name from the Devils to the Titans. The team’s last blanking came from Shane Connelly, who stopped 27 shots in a 2-0 Devils’ win over the Kalamazoo Wings on February 9, 2011. Wedgewood’s shutout ended a stretch of 152 games for Trenton without a shutout…In his two games since his return, Schultz has four goals and one assist. In his last game before he left, Schultz had a hat trick on February 1st against the Florida Everblades…The win marks the first time all year the Titans won by a margin of six goals. The last time Trenton won by six or more goals was on February 18, 2012, when they beat the Elmira Jackals 8-1…In the first period, Shelgren boarded Alexandre Carrier in the neutral zone, which resulted in Harry Young fighting Shelgren. The Titan pummeled the Royal before the pair ultimately fell to the ice…The Titans improved to 6-6-1 against the Royals and to 11-14-4 against the rest of the Atlantic Division in 2012-2013 (REA 6-6-1, ELM 4-5-2, WHL 1-3-1).