By Brian Compton
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — When Vince Williams first saw the Titans’ 2005-06 schedule, he probably cringed when he noticed that the second game of the season would be played at Cambria County War Memorial.
It was here back on Feb. 27 when Williams suffered a season-ending ankle injury that cost him a chance to play in the Kelly Cup playoffs. While his teammates put together a magical run that culminated with an ECHL championship, Williams was forced to watch from the stands.
“Obviously, the last memory I have from there is when I hurt myself,” said Williams as he returns to this old-time hockey building to face the Johnstown Chiefs on Friday. “But they’re great in their rink. It’s great that we’re coming in on a Friday. In the past, we’ve always come in on a Sunday and played at 2 o’clock. It’s a divisional game and we’ve got to build off last weekend.”
It was last weekend when Williams participated in his first game since suffering that terrible injury eight months earlier. The Titans’ assistant captain picked up an assist and was steady in his own end as Trenton knocked off the Wheeling Nailers in a 5-3 win at Sovereign Bank Arena.
“I got better as the game went on,” Williams said. “I think it’s just getting to understand the new system and just adjusting to it. The pain and the aches are gone, it’s more now about timing and positioning. It’s only going to get better. I was a little nervous at first, because it was my first game in a while. Once I got my feet wet, it was fine.”
Titans head coach Doug McKay was pleased with No. 2’s performance and is looking for Williams to contribute on a full-time basis in 2005-06. Williams and the rest of Trenton’s defense killed eight of Wheeling’s nine power plays last Saturday.
“I thought he got stronger,” McKay said. “The more he was challenged, the more difficult the situation, the more he arose to the situation,” McKay said. “He’s the go-to guy for me back there. He’s going to be a leader back there and he’s going to be instrumental in our penalty killing. He’s rock-solid. We had some very good penalty kills. Some huge penalty kills. We’ve just to keep refining it and executing it.”