Better With Popcorn

Refs Steal Show in Titans Shootout Loss

Coming off a close win in Reading last night, Trenton looked to continue their winning ways at home against division rival Elmira.

Helping the Titans in this effort was the return of defenseman Andy Thomas from the Phantoms. The Titans have been weak on defense recently with several defenders either injured or up in the AHL for better part of December. Thomas and the rest of the Titans defense would be put to the test early as Trenton spent six minutes in the first period on the penalty kill.

Thomas’s defense partner Jordan Southorn elaborated on what having Thomas back meant to the team.

“He’s obviously a big presence out there,” he said. “He’s been here a couple years, he’s a veteran and he helps us out a lot on the back end. He brought that leadership. I’m looking forward to playing with him.”

Goalie Dave Caruso echoed Southorn’s sentiments about the consistent defenseman.

“He’s a rock solid defenseman,”: Caruso said. “[He’s] very good in the locker room and very good on the ice.”

The referees decided the early part of this game would be a battle of special teams, calling five minor penalties in the first period. The Titans would kill off all three of the Jackals power plays, while scoring on one of their own.

With Mike Radja in the box for hooking, Southorn would unleash his big shot from the slot, the twine seeking missile would get past Jackals goalie Brian Stewart and the Titans would take a one goal lead into the first intermission.

The second period, like the first, had the referees controlling the pace of play. This time, both team’s goalies would steal the show, with each making solid saves as their teams killed off penalty after penalty.

During this period, Titans goalie Dave Caruso would make several amazing saves to keep the Titans ahead.

Caruso refused to take all the credit for his strong stat sheet, instead choosing to praise the defense.

 “We kept a lot of shots to the outside,” Caruso said. “It was good to have Tommer (Andy Thomas) back in there; he’s a really good defenseman.

“[The defense] did a good job; we did a good job tracking back.”

Jordan Southorn said he expected Caruso to have a big weekend.

“He said he was gonna have a big weekend, he told us he wanted to play well and he did. It’s great having a goalie we can rely on in the back end to make the big saves; Dave showed us tonight he’s that guy.”

The referees finally backed off the players in the third period, only giving out two power plays, both to Elmira.  At the 3:42 mark of the third period, Titans forward J.S. Berube and Jackals defenseman Craig Rivet would tangle in front of the net after Berube bumped the Jackals goalie following a whistle. Rivet would attempt to engage Berube, but both players would quickly fall to the ice.

At the end of this altercation, Berube would be given a double minor for slashing and interference and Rivet a minor for roughing giving the Jackals a power play.

During the powerplay, Corey Syvret would be caught tripping Jackals forward Dustin Gazley, while on the delayed call, the Jackals would increase their advantage to six on four and Jack Downing would jam home a goal at the 5:13 mark to tie it.

After killing the Syvret penalty; the teams would finish at even-strengh to the end of regulation. Overtime would follow and the teams would stay knotted at one before heading to the shootout.

Elmira was undefeated in six shootouts this season with Stewart having stopped every shot he faced before this game. As has been their strength all season, the Jackals would win the shootout as Mike Radja, Artem Demkov and Jack Downing would all beat Titans goalie Dave Caruso.

After the game, Coach Williams noted this game may have been the team’s best effort all season.

 “I think all three periods we outplayed them,” he said. “We executed our system for 65 minutes and we outplayed them. And unfortunately it came down to the shootout.”

With each team having seven power plays, there was some concern as to how that would affect the bench.

Williams took the high road when asked about the officials.

“We did what we had to do penalty kill-wise,” he said. “They got some guys who can score, we did what we needed to do.”

The 14 power plays meant that roughly 40% of the game was special teams.

Notes and Observations

Each team would finish the game 1/7 on the power play. The only imbalance on the calls was a 10-minute misconduct given to Jackals captain Mario Larocque.

Titans Captain Randy Rowe was placed on Injured Reserve with an upper body injury.

Titans activated Forward Tyler Shelast from Injured Reserve to take Rowe’s spot in the lineup.

With Rowe out, the Titans are without their three leading scorers (Rowe due to injury, and currently in the AHL are RW Rob Bordson [Rochester] and C Andy Bohmbach [Adirondack])

Defenseman Andy Thomas was returned from the Phantoms before the game.

Defenseman Tyler Hostetter (on year 1 of ELC with the Flyers, undrafted out of OHL Erie) has been cleared for light workouts after suffering a concussion there’s still no date for his return, but he has been making progress.

Defenseman Chris Berenguer is still on Injured Reserve with no timetable for his return after suffering a concussion in early December after being boarded in a game against the Chicago Express.

Titans Defenseman Ray DiLauro became the first player to score a shootout goal on Elmira this season. Brian Stewart had stopped 27 straight shootout attempts against the Jackals this season. Stewart was also perfect last season in ECHL shootouts.