By Len Bardsley
© 2005 The Times of Trenton
ESTERO, Fla. – The Titans didn’t feel any sympathy for the Florida Everblades after Game 1 of the Kelly Cup Finals, but at least they understood their pain.
The Titans know exactly how an embarrassing loss, like the 7-0 shellacking the Titans handed to the Everblades Saturday night in front of 7,465 dazed fans at Germain Arena, can be a motivator.
It worked for the Titans.
The Titans bounced back from their playoff low, a 6-0 shutout in Game 1 of the National Conference Finals against the Alaska Aces in Anchorage with a dominating 7-1 win on the same sheet of ice 24 hours later.
The Titans expect a similar effort from the Everblades Sunday.
“We were just in one of those,” said Titans coach Mike Haviland of the game that snowballed on the home team. “We have to come back to work tomorrow. That is a veteran team down there. They will be ready to go.”
The Titans know they are close to the knockout punch, but they can’t assume the Everblades will stick out their chin at 5 p.m. Sunday in Game 2.
“We can’t take too much from it,” Titans goalie Andrew Allen said. “We got the good bounces tonight. We have to work extra hard tomorrow to make sure we don’t give them the bounces, give them the momentum. We have to learn from our last series. We know how we felt after losing Game 1 by a big score. We came out with a great effort. I expect them to come out really hard tomorrow.”
The Everblades have gone this route before. They lost 5-1 in Game 1 of the Kelly Cup Finals to the Idaho Steelheads at home last season.
The result in Game 2: a 6-4 Steelheads win and an eventual five-game victory.
Tim O’Connell, one of several Everblades defensemen who had a horrific night, knows the situation has to improve fast if his team does not want to repeat history.
“It is a loss, that is all there is to it,” said O’Connell, who had a minus-four plus-minus rating. “The way it happened was pretty ugly. They played real well, they killed us. We have to come out and be ready to go tomorrow. We obviously didn’t play our best game tonight. We have not played like that in I don’t know how long.”
Titans forward Leon Hayward expects to see a much more determined Everblades team Sunday.
“We have already talked about it,” Hayward said. “We put Game 1 behind us. It does not matter if we won by one or 20. We felt terrible after Alaska (Game 1). We know they are going to play better. We have to give a great effort.”