Harper, Cepis help Titans dominate Nailers for second straight day

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It was fan appreciation night at the Sun National Bank Center last night and the Trenton Titans showed their appreciation by putting a 7-2 shellacking on the Wheeling Nailers. Shane Harper recorded his second hat trick in as many days on his way to a five-point game, as Jacob Cepis posted four assists in a six-point performance for the Titans’ second blowout win in a 48-hour span over the Nailers. Blake Kessel also had a big night for the hosts, as he had a trio of assists.

“They’re going in for me right now,” Harper said after the win. “I feel like I’m pretty accurate right now. My line is playing unbelievable down low, cycling the puck, getting a lot of chances. When you get that many chances the puck is going to go in the net.” (Here’s the rest of Harper after the win)

“It’s pretty easy to play with him,” Cepis said about Harper. “You can’t take anything away from Mike Ullrich too, he’s played well. He helps us a lot too. He’s a stronger guy and he gets to the net. That line that we’ve been having is going really well. It’s pretty easy to play with them”. (Here’s the rest of Cepis after the win)

(Others after the win: Vince Williams, Ullrich, Kessel)

Ullrich had a goal and two helpers to give Trenton’s top line 14 points in the five-goal win over Wheeling, as the Titans outscored the Nailers 12-4 in the two-game series this weekend.

Scott Wedgewood earned the win for Trenton, as he stopped 33 of the 35 shots Wheeling put on net. Peter Lenes and Zack Torquato were the only Nailers to beat Wedgewood, while several Titans beat Peter Delmas, who earned the loss by allowing four goals on 33 shots against before being pulled halfway through the second period. Scott Darling made 12 saves on 15 shots in relief.

Despite allowing the first four shots of the game, the Titans jumped out to the 1-0 lead 6:14 into the contest thanks to Ullrich’s 13th of the campaign.

After Wedgewood made a huge kick save on an attempt from Cam Fergus, the line of Ullrich-Cepis-Harper went end-to-end for an odd-man opportunity on the counterattack. Ullrich put home a cross-ice feed from Cepis past Delmas, as his attempt from the slot found the back of the cage before Wheeling’s netminder could move over in time to deny the chance with his blocker.

Later in the period, the Titans failed to extend their lead to two goals with a huge special teams’ chance.

After another successful shift from Ullrich-Cepis-Harper, Ullrich took a whack at the puck, as it seemed to be loose in the crease. The disc was in Delmas’ equipment, however, so Ullrich’s smack led to him being punched in the face by Keven Veilleux. At the same time, Zach Hansen slashed Cepis behind the scrum, which led to a two-man advantage. Trenton showcased impressive passing ability on the two-man chance, but the hosts couldn’t beat Delmas to extend their lead to two.

Thanks to a Connor Goggin tripping minor in the final minute of the opening stanza, the Titans opened the second period on the penalty kill. The Nailers came out flying to start the second period, which led to Lenes finding the back of the cage to make it a tied game.

Torquato tossed a puck from the corner into the slot, where Tyler Pilmore jumped on it for a chance all alone on Wedgewood. With Trenton’s goalie coming out to cut down the angle on Pilmore, the forward had a backhander beat the goaltender, but hit the post and sit in the crease. Thanks to Wedgewood out of the crease due to his challenge on Pilmore, Lenes was all alone in the blue paint for an easy tally to make it 1-1 a little over one minute into the second period.

After Lenes’ goal the Titans took control of the game.

Less than five minutes after the former Titan scored on Trenton, Harper and his line converted on another chance to restore the hosts’ lead.

On another odd-man rush, Ullrich fed Harper for a blast to make it 2-1. After Harper beat a sprawled Delmas high glove side, Harper lost his balance and slid into the boards hard. He left the game momentarily, but came back a few minutes later to keep the Titans’ best line intact.

Later in the period, Cepis registered his first goal of the night off of a chance created by his own rebound. After a shot from the top of the circle to Delmas’ right led to a big rebound, Cepis was able to skate to the crease and bank in the Titans’ third of the night off of Delmas while Ullrich created problems in front of the net, as the goaltender was sprawled out on the ice.

Immediately after the faceoff at center ice following Cepis’ tally, Aaron Schmit and Adam Ross dropped the gloves. The pair earned a draw in the bout, as both failed to land a punch before tackling each other to the ice.

Less than two minutes after Cepis’ first of the evening, the small forward potted his second of the game to make it a three-goal contest.

Cepis skated into the Nailers’ zone and let go of a slap shot from the top of the circle to Delmas’ right. The forward’s blast beat Delmas low far post for his 21st of 2012-2013 to put an end to the goalie’s night with 7:40 left in the middle stanza.

The Titans didn’t stop once they saw Darling enter the net, as Kessel set up Bryan Haczyk beautifully to extend Trenton’s lead to four goals.

Kessel carried the puck into Wheeling’s zone, as he had Haczyk skating in with him on a 2-on-1 bid. With a no-look pass across the slot, Kessel froze Darling and let Haczyk slam home his 17th of the season to make it 5-1 with 6:12 left in the middle stanza.

A little over a minute after Haczyk’s tally, the tandem of Chris Barton and Reid McNeill recorded cross checking and boarding minors respectively six seconds apart to give the Titans a 5-on-3 power play for 1:54.

Kessel blasted a shot from the point through traffic that hit off of Harper’s pants and into the net for his second of the contest to make it 6-1 with only 4:45 left in the second period.

Harper completed his hat trick in the third period on a rebound that resulted in the puck sitting behind Darling in the crease. His third of the contest, and sixth in 48 hours, was his 10th in the ECHL this year.

After a Torquato shot from the point on the power play beat Wedgewood to make it 7-2, the score remained the same for the final 13:04 to give the Titans a five-goal home win.

Today, the Titans are in Elmira to take on the Jackals.

Notes: The win last night marked the second time this year the Titans had seven goals or more in a single game. The other was a 8-5 decision over the Jackals on January 18th…The win marks the third time this season the Titans won by a margin of five goals or more. The first two times were their 6-0 win over the Reading Royals on February 23rd and 6-1 win over the Orlando Solar Bears on March 10th…With six points last night, Cepis set his career high for points in an ECHL game. He also set the high for points by a single player in an ECHL game this season…Tonight marked the first time in Harper’s career that he had back-to-back multi-goal performances in the ECHL. His five-point game is also a career-high in the ECHL..Trenton’s line of Harper-Ullrich-Cepis accrued a combined 21 points in their two wins over Wheeling. Harper had six goals and two assists, Ullrich had two goals and two assists, and Cepis posted three goals and six assists…Before the game the Titans handed out awards. Wedgewood earned the awards for rookie of the year and for Character, Tyler Hostetter earned the award for top defenseman, Kory Nagy won the award for most improved player, and Stephen Schultz earned the award for MVP…After the game, the jerseys which the players were wearing (grey with a red logo on the chest shaped like the state of New Jersey) were auctioned off to fans still in attendance…The Titans improved to 4-5-1 against the Nailers and to 16-18-4 against the rest of the Atlantic Division (REA 7-6-1, ELM 5-7-2, WHL 4-5-1).