Better With Popcorn

Labelle's Royal Night Sinks Titans

Having gone 3-1-1 in their last five games with slim playoff hopes alive, the Trenton Titans hosted the Reading Royals Wednesday night at the Sun Center. Titans Coach Vince Williams decided to ride the hot hand by starting Brad Phillips again in goal. Phillips had allowed one goal in each of his last two starts, both wins.

In what has become Trenton-typical this season, the Titans allowed the first goal at 11:18 as Olivier Labelle set a screen in front of Phillips and a Yannick Tifu shot bounced off Labelle. The deflection went past Phillips to give the Royals the lead at 1-0.

Late in the period, Ryan Hayes answered  right back for Trenton as he stole the puck in the offensive zone from a Royals defensemen and fired a quick shot on net. The shot beat goalie Karel St. Laurent to tie the game with just over a minute left.

Hayes hardly took credit for the goal.

 “I just put one on net,” Hayes said. “One of my teammates was in front, and I got lucky.”

After one period, Trenton in better shape than many of their early season efforts. However, things fell apart in the second period.

Nine minutes into the period, the Royals struck when Labelle snuck a shot past Phillips’ short-side to give the Royals a 2-1 lead. Less than a minute later, Adam Presizniuk again tied the game on a beautiful backhand shot through traffic.

That goal would be the only good thing to happen to Trenton in the second period. At 13:18, Casey Haines gave Reading the lead at 3-2 when he picked up his own rebound and slid it past Phillips.

Late in the period, Titans captain Randy Rowe took a slashing minor, and then yelled at the referee to the point where he would get an extra two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct.  Tifu cashed in on the first-half power play and sent Reading to the dressing room with a 4-2 lead.

Coach Williams wasn’t pleased with the effort.

“Everything they got, we gave them,” he said. “It’s similar to what happened last week against them.”

The Titans opened the third period down two and needing to kill off the remaining 1:27 of Rowe’s penalty. They managed to kill the penalty despite Phillips tending the twine for most of the kill without a stick. It was knocked out of his hand and to the corner of the rink in the first 20 seconds of the period.

Matt Germain picked up a goal to bring the score to 4-3 on a rebound, but the Royals got it back quickly. About 30 seconds after Germain’s tally, Kenny Ryan beat Phillips to give the Royals a two-goal lead again.

Labelle then completed his hat trick with an empty net goal in the final seconds of the game.


Notes and Observations

Rob Bordson (F) signed with the Adirondack Phantoms for the rest of the season leaving the Titans without their leading scorer.

Kelly Miller (F) was signed to an SPC from the Danbury Whalers of the FHL.

Dave Caruso (G) was returned on loan from Charlotte of the AHL.

Andy Thomas (D) was returned on loan from the Phantoms.

Nick Niedert (G) and Anthony Pisano (D) were released from their contracts.