By Brian Compton
TRENTON – Of all the Titans that have performed superbly thus far in the Kelly Cup Finals, it’s safe to at least argue that goaltender Andrew Allen is the hottest of them all.
The Titans’ netminder allowed just one goal over the first two games of this best-of-seven series that resumes tonight with Game 3 at Sovereign Bank Arena. The Titans have a 2-0 lead in this final series and can inch closer toward their first Kelly Cup with a win Friday evening.
If that is to happen, the Titans will need another strong performance from Allen. It will be interesting to see if Allen can sustain this momentum after five days between games.
“I feel good,” Allen said Thursday after the Titans skated at SBA. “We had two good practices and we’re back on our home rink, which is good. There’s pros and cons (to the time off). For me personally, we’ve been traveling a lot, so it’s nice to get a little bit of a break. I’ve worked on the timing the last two days and just get back to that mental state that I was in. I’ve got to come back out and give our team another chance to win.”
Titans head coach Mike Haviland is not expecting the long break to hinder his team’s chances of taking a 3-0 lead in the Kelly Cup Finals. Haviland spent the majority of Wednesday and Thursday reminding the Titans that they have not won anything yet and how they must take advantage of the opportunity in front of them.
“We’ve got to worry about (Friday),” Haviland said. “That’s been my message since we got home (from Florida). I kind of laid into them just so we don’t lose focus about what’s at hand. It’s my job to refocus them. We haven’t won anything.”
As for Allen, Haviland did not seem worried in the least about his goaltender. Considering how Allen has performed for the majority of this postseason, it’s easy to see why Haviland isn’t nervous. Allen, who leads the ECHL with 12 playoff victories, has allowed just three goals in his last four games, which included back-to-back shutouts in Game 7 of the National Conference Finals and Game 1 of the Kelly Cup Finals.
“He’ll be fine,” Haviland said. “I don’t see anything changing. We didn’t play a mid-week game. We’ve done this before. I’m not worried about him at all. I’m not worried about anyone in that room.”Certainly, it will take another team effort to win Game 3 Friday, as the Titans realize the Everblades will be raring to go after dropping the first two games of this series on home ice. As far as Allen’s recent success, the always-humble goaltender gave the majority of the credit to his defense.
“I think a lot of it had to do with cutting down the odd-man rushes,” Allen said. “I was able to get a lot of shots from the perimeter and a lot of shots through the traffic that the guys were letting me see, which helped me get in a bit of a groove. When you’re cutting down the odd-man rushes, you’re not back on your heels nearly as much.”
The Titans, who haven’t played on home ice since their stellar 3-0 win over Alaska in Game 5 of the National Conference Finals back on May 10, are expecting a large crowd at SBA tonight. Area fans are finally realizing that something special is going on here and want to be a part of it. That’s one of several reasons why Friday’s game is so huge. Allen knows it, too.
“This is the biggest game of the year,” Allen said. “It’s huge. 2-1 to 3-0 is a huge difference and both teams know that. We have to keep them from getting any momentum and thinking that they can get in this series. We have to have the mentality to be ready for anything right off the bat.”