Titans Ward Off Walleye, 5-3
It was a back and forth game between the Trenton Titans and Toledo Walleye Saturday night at the Sun National Bank Center. The first two periods ended with Titan goals in the final minute setting the stage for an exciting final stanza.
Toledo (10-13-0-1-21) jumped into the lead when Barry Rufenach put a wrist shot into the top left corner of the net.
Titan’s defenseman Jordon Southorn, returning from loan from the AHL Rochester Americans, made his presence felt when he received a deflection in front of the net and scored with one tenth of a second left in the first period.
“You always want to end the period on a high note,” Southorn said. “We wanted to get out earlier. Having [the goal] at the end being confirmed gave the guys a boost.”
Randy Rowe threw the puck into the middle of the crease and after a couple of missed opportunities Southorn was able to connect the puck with the back of the net. The goal went under review as fans began to throw hundreds of stuffed animals onto the ice. The Titans (10-12-2-1-23) were able to leave the first period with a tied scored and the momentum.
The Titans dominated the second period but were unable to finish. Trenton had several flurries in front of Walleye’s goal but were unable to grab the lead due to Toledo’s play by goalie Thomas McCollum (24 saves). McCollum was able to keep the Walleye in the game despite Trenton’s aggressive fore check, precise passing, and high percentage opportunities.
Dave Caruso (30 saves) acknowledged the opposing goalies efforts.
“McCollum did a great job today. He came up with a lot of big saves,” Caruso said.
With 6:58 remaining in the second period Ryan Hayes received a pass from Ray DiLauro and was able to skate through Toledo’s defense by faking a slapshot, taking the puck to the left side of the crease and finishing with a backhanded goal.
Toledo responded 33 seconds later with a goal of there own when Phil Rauch launched a shot over Caruso’s glove.
Once again, Trenton was able to add a tally on the scoreboard in the final minute. Eric Baier zipped a pass in between two Toledo defenseman from the top of the box to Matt Germain who scored with 58 seconds left in the period.
“It’s huge to score at the end of a period,” Southorn said about the goal. “You always want to have momentum going into the next period.”
Trenton’s momentum was distilled when the Walleye were able to level the score 4:23 into the third period. Toledo left-wing Andres Nestrasil found himself wide open after a deflection and scored.
Caruso was able to shutout the Toledo offense for the next fifteen minutes.
“I try to stay within myself and just follow the puck. I knew [our offense] was going to make a push,” Caruso said.
The Titans took the lead for good on a power play goal with 12:28 remaining in the game. Forward Dustin Cameron was able to put in a J.S. Berube rebound.
“The goal on the power play was a great job by Berube putting it at the net and Cameron was there to put it in. That’s what you need. These are the kind of goals you need to have. Put it on the net and make the goalie make saves,” Caruso said.
Germain (the game's first star) scored his second goal of the night with 9:56 remaining. Steve Silva was surrounded by Toledo defenseman behind the net but was able to get free with Houdini-like skating and found Germain on the opposite side of the crease.
“Germain made a great finish,” Silva said. “I feel like I have good stick skills and can dish the puck, that’s the kind of player I am.”
Trenton finished the game aggressively but was unable to notch their sixth goal when Toledo pulled their goalie with two minutes left.
Caruso was complimentary of the offense after the game.
“We worked hard this week on scoring goals and being in the offensive zone. You could see the work that our offense put in. It’s great having Southorn back. Silva played great. He’s a good skater, he’s like a water bug,” Caruso said.
The Titans play Toledo again today at 4 p.m.