By Len Bardsley
Mar. 24, 2006
You could call it the Spring migration. As the weather and playoff races heat up, players long settled in one place get moving papers to prepare for the postseason.
Scott Bertoli of the Trenton Titans and Ray DiLauro, now of the Fresno Falcons, are perfect examples of the players getting late opportunities during the final third of the season.
Bertoli has been the foundation of the Titans since the teams’ inception seven years ago and leads the franchise in every offensive category, yet he had never gotten more than a cup of coffee in the American Hockey League.
DiLauro waited years for his extended stay in the AHL, but due to an injury and a struggling Cleveland Barons team, he found himself out of the playoff mix, until he was sent to the Falcons this week.
Bertoli got his first AHL call-up in four years when Mike Haviland of the Norfolk Admirals asked him to join the team in Philadelphia Sunday when the Admirals were facing the Phantoms. Bertoli had only played a total of four AHL games before getting the call from Haviland.
Bertoli, who had just arrived home from Dayton following the Titans’ 2-1 overtime win against the Bombers Saturday, didn’t hesitate to join the coach who had guided the Titans to the Kelly Cup finals in the previous season.
“I have been hoping for this opportunity all year,” said Bertoli. “To be given this opportunity was great. I felt comfortable knowing (Haviland) had confidence in me to put me out there in certain situations.”
A rash of injuries on the Admirals and the fact the Titans are locked into the fifth and final playoff spot in the North Division, will allow Bertoli, who has 19 goals and 47 assists for the Titans this season, to get a few more AHL games under his belt for Haviland.
“One thing with (Bertoli) is we have a lot of respect for each other,” Haviland said. “It is not because of friendship. It is because of what he can do and what he can bring for me. I didn’t think twice about it.”
Bertoli knows he has to change his role from the Titans to the Admirals, but had no trouble adapting, knowing Haviland’s system and what he expects from the forward who turned 29 on Thursday.
“I try to make due with what I was given,” Bertoli said. “It was fun. It was a good opportunity. I have had different opportunities (in the AHL) before, but I turned them down because it was not going to be the right fit. I knew Haviland would give the opportunity to play. The biggest thing is learning to play better without the puck. I have the puck all the time with the Titans, here I don’t have it as much. Once I got adjusted to that it was fine.”