Game 1: Post-Game Notes

— And now, a list of ways the Trenton Titans season opener could have possibly gone better…

— Yeah, there’s really nothing.  They won 3-1, they looked great doing it, and the front office sold 5,346 tickets to people eager to watch it.  Stick taps all the way around.  You can read my game story in The Trentonian here and read my sidebar on the arrival of Scott Wedgewood here…plenty of quotes in there, plus a ton you’ll eventually find below as well from Vince Williams, Stephen Schultz, Marcel Noebels, Jason Akeson and Niko Hovinen.  I also spoke to Wedgewood again, and you’ll see a separate story on him as well. 

I’ll also have a photo gallery during the week as well.

— A lot of what you need to know about the game can be found in my gamer, so I’ll toss in a few thoughts and opinions here while I’ve got the chance — and I do this all game long on Twitter at @mashmore98 as well.

— Let’s start with the goaltending…a real shock to anyone who’s read my stuff for a while, no doubt.  After reading all sorts of doom and gloom about Hovinen’s preseason efforts in Adirondack and Trenton, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot.  As it turns out, he was quite good…it would be a stretch to say he was amazing in my opinion, but he made the saves he needed to make…and sad as it is to say, that hasn’t been the case in Trenton with the goaltending for a while. 

The first thing that stood out to me about Hovinen during warmups was his stance when he comes out to challenge…reminds me a lot of fellow countryman Kari Lehtonen’s with the way he spreads his pads out.  In the game, he stood out to me the most on the four minute 5-on-4…just his ability to read a play (cross-ice pass play) and make the big stop (doorstep save).  The only mildly concerning — and that’s likely too strong of a word — issue I had was with his rebounds, which tended to be on the juicy side…but he was putting them to the dots and outside, nothing in the slot.

— There were a lot of strong individual efforts tonight.  Although he didn’t show up on the scoresheet, Ray DiLauro played well…thought Akeson and Noebels were two of the best guys on the ice tonight as well.

— As you’ll see, I asked Williams about this, but there was noticable development shown by some players who were in their second season with the team…Eric Baier stepped up his physical game quite a bit, and Mitch Versteeg was very noticable in stepping up in the play offensively.

— The only goal scored on Hovinen was a direct result of poor play by Tyler Hostetter and Blake Kessel in their own end.  Kessel initially could not get the puck out, and Hostetter proceeded to turn it over and then lose sight of it.  Both players had some other rough moments during the game — Hostetter getting bailed out by DiLauro on a 2-on-1 after falling down comes to mind.

— Kory Nagy suffered a cut on his calf due to an opponent’s skate in the first period and did not return.  He is expected to miss at least a week. 

— Wedgewood will make his pro debut tomorrow in Reading.

— Here’s what they were saying after the game…

STEPHEN SCHULTZ

“I’ve been working a little bit on the power play, and Akey beat the guy to the boards and I was yelling in the slot for it.  He found me and I just kind of dragged, they gave me the ice, and I was just able to find the back of the net.”

“I think (this win) gives us a great amount of confidence, personally and team-wise.  We looked a little sloppy out there at times, but that’s what you’re going to get with all new guys and new faces.  But definitely confidence-wise, I think this team has a lot, and I think we just have to keep working together as a team and things will pay off.”

“I think Niko played great.  Whenever we needed a save, he gave it to us, and that’s all you can ask of those two guys bck there.  Wedgy’s a good goalie as well, and having two good netminders gets you a long way.”

JASON AKESON

“(Niko) is a great guy.  Having an English conversation with him might be a little harder, but he’s a great guy.  He’s real big in there, and he played really well tonight.   I know his first two games, he had a little bit of a rough go, but tonight he proved that he’s a pro goalie.  Good for him getting the win.”

“Obviously, I’m disappointed (to have to come down), it came as a bit of a shock to me.  But it is what it is.  I’m going to take it as a learning curve; come down here and play as many minutes as I can, get as much exposure and experience that I can so that when I do get the chance to get back up there, hopefully I don’t get sent back down.”

“(Cousin Jeremy Akeson) had a lot of experience in this league, and he gave me some pointers here and there.  He played in Trenton too, so he told me a little bit about the town and stuff like that.  It was good to have someone that’s played here before to let me know what I’m getting into and what the hockey is like.”

“Getting the first game out of the way and getting the win, you couldn’t ask for more.  We had a good amount of fans that came out tonight, and hopefully we can keep that coming because I know the boys get fired up when that happens and we’ve got a lot of fans out there.  The guys are really confident right now, and hopefully we can carry that in to tomorrow.”

NIKO HOVINEN

“My job is to find the puck and make that save no matter who is standing in front of me.  But today, the D handled the rebounds and I saw almost every puck.”

“I had a couple good saves at the start, and that definitely helped.  I kind of felt good today, I just have to remember not to get too far away from the net and stand mid-depth.  That worked today, and hopefully that works next game.”

“That was a huge kill by our penalty kill, and that was a huge boost for the team killing a long penalty.  Especially with it being the end of the second period and taking a lead into the third period.”

“The biggest thing is trying to get used to a smaller rink and the way the guys play here, it’s a lot different than back home, that’s for sure.  Things happen way more faster and the angles are different, that’s probably the biggest thing I have to learn.  The angles are smaller, but I’ve been working on it for two weeks and things are getting better, but there’s still work to do.”

MARCEL NOEBELS

“My goal was to stay in Adirondack, but the situation right now with the lockout, I just need to try to be a leader now and try to lead offensively and defensively.  But my game right now is more about offense than defense and trying to get the team to win games.”

“I think there’s always something you can improve on.  I improved this summer with my skating, and just things like finishing your checks out there…those simple things; get the pucks out on PK, putting passes on the tape.  Those are things I’m working on.”

VINCE WILLIAMS

(Will post these tomorrow…he spoke to us for around 11 minutes, and there was some good stuff there that I don’t want to just shorten up because I’m tired.)

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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2 Responses to “Game 1: Post-Game Notes”

  1. BOB T Says:

    Very encouraging, they beat a good Greenville team, a team that came in here last year and cleaned their clock….Observations……AKESON..if he spends the whole year down here, if he doesn’t lead the league in scoring, he’ll lead it in assists, watching him in the ECHL is kind of like watching Claude Giroux the year he played in the AHL, he just sees the ice so well…NOEBELS..as I said before I think this kid is a future NHLer and he didn’t dissapoint in his pro debut…HOSTETTER…he had a bad game, but he’s still not even 20 yrs. old and he’s ultra talented, he’ll be fine, he’s one guy I wouldn’t worry about…SCHULTZ, SLATER..excellent…
    BAIER..I thought he stepped up his game bigtime LAST YEAR after the mid-point and he was their best player before the AHL call up and he’s progressed even more..
    This team is solid, they’ll be fun to watch…and with McKENZIE as a solid veteran presence when he comes back, with some added toughness, it’ll only get better……Should be a fun year, a good start….

  2. Tom Malloy Says:

    Good reporting Mike. My first Titans game and it was a fun one. From a fan perspective. it was very well packaged. Didn’t have a minor league feel. The build up to home opener and the execution was great. Really excited for the season.

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