MIRACLE TITANS COMBACK FALLS JUST SHORT
READING, PA - When Reading's Yannick Tifu scored his second goal at 16:45 of the second, making it 5-1 Royals, every one of the 4,569 in attendance at the Sovereign Center thought the game was all but over.
What they didn't know was that his goal would end up being the game winner.
Trenton (14-12-2-2=32 points), proud ECHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers, scored three times in the game's final 10 minutes - twice on 4-on-3 power plays; one with the goalie pulled - only to fall just short after the game ended in confusion and some controversy, as the division rival Royals hung on for a 5-4 win.
Playing three games against each other in as many nights, the third and final meeting in this war takes place December 29th in Trenton at the Sun Nation Bank Center, where the Titans won in OT Thursday, 2-1.
Click HERE for the final box score.
Reading (22-8-1-1=46), leaders of the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference, set an agressive tone early and it paid off. Goals By Ethan Cox and Barry Almeida gave the Royals a 2-0 in the first five minutes against Titans goalie Niko Hovinen (4-5-0-2, 32 saves). The Titans held on and finally stemmed the tide a bit when Stephen Schultz connected at 18:27 on his 10th goal of the year with a blast from the left circle that beat Sergey Kostenko (25 saves) who was making his professional debut. The goal - a power play tally assisted by Marcel Noebels - was the seventh PPG for Schultz and made it 2-1 through one.
Tempers seemed to settle in the second period, but the Royals' hot sticks didn't Adam Comrie and Tifu's two markers supplied all the scoring in the frame, as Reading took a 5-1 lead into the third period and had its fans in a comfortable frame of mind.
However things really got out of control in more ways than one eight minutes into the final period, as penalties were being handed out and accumulating like parking tickets in Philly. Twenty penalties of every type, shape and color - totaling 122 of the games 132 minutes in calls - were issued in the period. But it was what happened in the final five minutes that got all the attention.
When the Titans' Ian Slater appeared to add window dressing to the score with his seventh goal to make it 5-2 midway into the third, no one could predict was was in store next.
With four aside hockey after Trenton's Justin Taylor found the box for a major penalty (part of a four-player, 10 penalty award) at 13:39, Reading got hit with two minors, 23 seconds apart, that led to two 4-on-3 power plays (and PPG) for the Titans.
First Andy Bohmbach connected on a rebound putback after Noebels and Schultz were denied by Kostenko at 15:23. Then with Hovinen pulled and just before the second power play expired, Schultz and Noebels again helped on a PPG - this time it was Blake Kessel with his fourth at 16:56 to put everyone on edge at 5-4 Reading.
The Titans pressure - and everyone's tempers - increased right up to the final whistle...maybe. With about five seconds to play, two players got into a heated shoving match at the Titans blue line, which appeared and sounded to many like it drew a whistle to stop play. However in the chaos that ensued, the clock ran out. After several minutes to try and settle the players, conversations with on and off-ice officials began. Reading didn't know if they could celebrate a win and Trenton was arguing for time to be put back. After nearly 10 minutes - and the Royals having already left the ice - Trenton was still at the bench awaiting an official explanation. Unfortunately, in the end, they would head to their locker room with an explanation and decision they obviously would not agree with.
As if this already wasn't a heated rivalry with concentrated contempt, this ending only makes Saturday's game even more compelling, as the two teams see each other for the third straight night at 7:05 pm. Tickets are available by calling 609-341-1100, at TrentonTitansHockey.com and on game day at the SNBC. As always the broadcast can be heard on AmericaOne.com, 107.7 FM (Trenton area) and online at 1077theBronc.com, with the Voice of the Titans, "The Bronc" Daryle Dobos, calling all the action.
AT THE HORN: With three assists tonight, the rookie Flyers' prospect Noebels has now scored in 8-straight games and 12-of-13 for the month of December, with one game remaining. He has 9 goals (4 PP, 1 GWG in OT), a hat trick and 12 assists in that span. He now leads the team in assists (19) and scoring (30). Bohmbach paces the Titans with 14 goals, While Schultz leads in PPG with his seven.