Titans Continue Win Streak in 6-2 Victory over Nailers
Thursday, February 21, 2002
By David W. Unkle
SJSports Staff Writer
Hockey players are taught from a young age to keep digging and pursuing the puck until the buzzer sounds at the end of each period. It is a fundamental concept that is sometimes overlooked, sometimes deliberately forgotten but simply not seen in many of today's athletes. The Titans' Pat Leahy, Ben Stafford, and Scott Bertoli proved exceptions to the rule last night. In an excellent example of fore-checking and fighting for the puck behind the net, Leahy scored his 16th goal of the season with 0.8 seconds left in the first period to put the Titans' on the board and set the tone for the game. Despite being thin on the blue line last night, the Titans' defense was swarming on the ice limiting Wheeling to just five shots in the first period and twenty-one in the game.
The Nailers tied the score 1-1 at 3:48 of the second period on Mike Hurley's 18th goal of the season. The Titans' Geoff Peters put Trenton back on top with his 14th goal with assists from Aniket Dhadphale and Matt Libby at 6:42. The Nailers missed a golden opportunity to even the score when Mark Major was left all alone in front of Titan's goalie Dan Murphy who came up with an outstanding short side save at 15:45. Trenton pulled away at 17:38 of the second period when John Nail's wrist shot from the point beat goalie Tyler Mac Kay. Less than a minute later, Titans' Winger Matt Zultek scored the first of two goals on the night following a nice pass from behind the net by Marco Charpentier.
Wheeling pulled back to within 4-2 on Mark Major's penalty shot following a play in which he was pulled down from behind while streaking in on goalie Dan Murphy on a shorthanded breakaway. It was the first penalty shot in the Titans' franchise history. Zultek gave the Titans' back their three goal cushion at 7:01 of the third when he took a pass at the blue line and somehow found daylight between MacKay's blocker and the side of the goal. Charpentier closed out the night's scoring at 8:32 as he blazed down the left side of the ice and fired a laser past MacKay. Titans' goalie Dan Murphy stopped 19 of 21 Nailers' shots on goal in winning his ninth straight decision.
"I think now the guys realize it's not just one line that scores'you just try to keep their confidence high", said Titans' Coach Peter Horachek after the team won their franchise record tenth consecutive win. "All three lines chipped in tonight and I think that's the key to our last ten games...everyone's going and everyone's playing well and that's why we're winning games...things just fall together" said Titans' Matt Zultek.
With the bench light following the Philadelphia Phantoms recall of defensemen Andreas Moborg and Ian Forbes and the team playing fundamentally good hockey, Coach Peter Horachek's approach to practice over the next week will likely change. "You've got to keep it shorter...just go out a get a good sweat and stay crisp...so your habits are good. With three games in three nights...there's not much rest". Five of the Titans' six goals beat Nailers' goalie Tyler MacKay to the short side. According to the Titans' Zultek who put two pucks past MacKay "...it just happened that way...my first goal just trickled over there...that's just where the pucks were bouncing tonight."
That's always the way things seem to go when you're on a winning streak.