Better With Popcorn

Wheeling Nails Trenton, 3-1


Wednesday night, the Trenton Titans looked to extend their point streak in games against Atlantic Division rival Wheeling Nailers to four. The last of the recent 1-0-2 streak, was a 5-3 win in Wheeling last Saturday. Instead, the Nailers took the lead early and held on to win, 3-1.

Starting goaltender Dave Caruso returned from injury to help the Trenton streak attempt. On his three-day IR stint, Caruso addressed the positives of being able to sit back and recover.

“I think it helped big time,” He said. “Because that travel is pretty treacherous; What we did this past week [three games in three days with travel between each game]… That one day off really made a big difference.”

Unfortunately for Caruso, his team would not start as strong as he did. The first period was evenly matched, but like early in the season, the Titans wound up in penalty trouble.

Just 10 seconds after Titans defenseman Mike Banwell would exit the box after serving a minor penalty for holding, the Titans defense would break down in front of Caruso. Zack Torquato of Wheeling would get a one-time shot down low and beat Caruso short side to give the Nailers the lead.

The Titans offense in the first period generated many shots and several quality chances. Despite the chances, Trenton’s opportunities bounced off their sticks and everywhere but the back of the net. The bad bounces would tell the story of this game for the Titans.

“It’s the little things,” Titans captain Randy Rowe explained. “And the little things win you games”

The second period was very similar to the first in terms of style of play. Again, the Titans were unable to get the puck to settle down for them.

 “I didn’t think we supported the puck well in the first two periods, especially in the offensive zone,” Trenton Coach Vince Williams said.

Wheeling pulled ahead by two goals midway through the period on a goal by Mikael Bedard. Bedard scored on a scramble in front of the net that saw Caruso get knocked over and out of position.

After the ensuing faceoff, Titans defenseman Mitch Versteeg delivered a questionable hit from behind a Wheeling skater.

The hit drove a Nailers player into the boards awkwardly, and Nailers defenseman Adam Ross jumped to the aid of his teammate and engage Versteeg in a fight.

With each player off for five minutes, the Titans started to control play a bit more, but Nailers goalie Patrick Killeen made the saves he needed to make while the Titans continued to miss open nets.

Action really heated up in the final two minutes. With just over a minute left in the game and Caruso pulled for the extra attacker, Rowe lit the lamp for Trenton on a net mouth scramble.

The Titans continued to fight in hopes of tying the score, but Chris Barton of Wheeling hit the empty net and sealed the victory for the Nailers.

After the game, tempers between the two division rivals would explode one last time. Before the teams could skate back to the locker rooms, Scooter Vaughan of Wheeling and Mike Banwell of Trenton dropped the gloves. Each would be assessed a major and a game misconduct for the altercation.




Notes and Observations

When asked to evaluate his play during his first game back Caruso stated

“I thought I played fine,” Caruso said. “The defense did a good job, the forwards did a job.”

With the team hitting the one third mark of the season, Coach Williams addressed his team needs.

“It’s human nature that when things are going well, you tend to slide in certain aspects of the game,” Williams said. “I think we tried to address that a bit, take it as a positive and get back to the basics and play the hockey we need to play.

“We gotta get back to what makes us successful…we’re a blue collar team”

There was no news on injured defenseman Chris Berenguer and Tyler Hostetter.

Johan Backlund was recalled by the Phantoms.

The ECHL offices will take a look into supplemental discipline for Banwell and Vaughan with regards to their roles in the postgame altercation.

Coach Williams admitted he didn’t see the actual altercation as he was already down the tunnel to the dressing room. However, he seemed interested to know what supplemental discipline will be taken against Banwell and Vaughn.

“It will be interesting to see what happens now,” Williams said.

Trenton plays Wheeling again on Saturday in Wheeling.