Game 29: Morning Skate Notes

11:20 AM — Just got done watching the Titans skate, and there sure were a lot of them…15 forwards, 6 D and 2 goalies were out there on the ice about nine hours before the start of the first game of a pretty critical three-game set against Reading.

Also, if you missed my Kory Nagy feature in The Trentonian, check it out here.

I spoke to Jacob Cepis for an upcoming short feature — no pun intended, of course — and with head coach Vince Williams about a few pressing topics, starting with the huge upcoming 3-in-3 series against the Royals:

“It’s a good challenge.  We’ve come a long way, and obviously it’s a team we have to beat.  They’re a first place team for a reason, but I think the way we’ve been playing, we’ve been competitive against some of the best teams in this league.  But obviously, this is a huge series.  We’ve been thinking about this since the game in Fort Wayne.  We made sure with the break that we got rest, but at the same time we made sure that this was still a focal point.  If you’re anybody that’s in that dressing room, you want to be taking this almost like a playoff series.  But this is a team that, if you want to move up, you’re going to have to beat.  We see them enough.”

“All the games (against Reading) were close games.  They were one goal games except for one.  But we have to play inside.  I thought at the time we weren’t getting enough speed.  We’ve got to get to Grubauer, no question he’s a big part of that team.  He’s a guy that we have to get inside on and get second and third chances and make him move.  Make him commit on the first shot and have guys driving the net.  We’re certainly a different team than we were when we played them last time; personnel-wise, but from a development standpoint we’re a better team than the last time we played them.  But we have to make sure that our execution is at its best.  And that’s not just scoring goals, that’s the way we play structurally, whether it’s special teams or 5-on-5, or getting pucks out, we need a full 60 minutes.  We have to use our speed, get pucks behind their D.  They’re a first-place team for a reason, and this is a great challenge, but everyone has to be better.”

“(Reading) has some guys that can score.  There’s no question that their skill set is high.  They’re not overly physical, but their D core is strong; they’re strong, they’re big and they do a good job boxing out.  Like I said, their goaltending is probably the best in the league.  (Grubauer) is an All-Star for a reason.  We saw that in South Carolina, he was a huge part of the success of that organization as well.  He complements the way they play.  Denny Urban is a dynamic defenseman at this level, probably one of the most improved D I’ve seen in this league.  They’re a team that goes on the attack.  You don’t want to play on your heels against them, you want to play on your toes.  They sometimes can be a little high-risk, but it pays off for them.  They have the skill set, no question.”

“It’s 3-in-3 off a break; Wedgewood’s going tonight…obviously one guy’s been getting a little bit more (playing time) than the other, but that can change.  If you have two goalies that can play, it works in our favor, no question.  But we’ll see how tonight goes.”

“Johnston should be in tonight, Zajac should be in tonight.  Haczyk needs a little more contact, but those other guys will be in tonight.”

“You’ve got to run with (the blue suit), that’s what the people want, right?  (Laughs).  I’m just going with it because…well, I’m going with it.  I wasn’t too bad (with superstitions as a player), but there’s some things that you stick with if you have success with it.  But we’re kind of making light of it more than anything.  I wasn’t an overly superstitious guy…I wasn’t like Mike Haviland, who was very, very superstitious.  He wore the same shoes during the Kelly Cup run that had the sole that was falling off it, he refused to change his shoes.  I think we just go with it.  It’s kind of fun, I think guys are getting a kick out of me wearing the same thing every game, so whatever lightens it up a little bit.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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