By Craig Handel
© 2005 The News-Press
ESTERO, Fla. – One goal scored in two games.
As shocked as the Florida Everblades and their fans are by that statistic, the Trenton Titans are just as surprised.
But with the Titans’ combination of goaltender Andrew Allen making saves, their defense limiting rebounds and Trenton’s forwards slowing down their counterparts, they have a 2-0 lead in the Kelly Cup Finals after a 2-1 victory Sunday night at Germain Arena.
“Surprised?” Trenton defenseman Steve Munn said. “Definitely. Especially in their barn.”
“There’s a lot of talent there,” Titans center Paul Brown added.
Trenton coach Mike Haviland said: “Probably not” when asked if thought he’d leave Germain Arena with his team allowing just one goal in two games.
“But right now, we have everyone on the same page and it’s been that way for a while,” he said.
Trenton’s players said the key through the first two Finals games was Allen. “Our goalie is playing unbelievably,” Brown said.
When Allen was asked about the key thus far, he said limiting rebounds.
“We’re not allowing many second or third opportunities,” he said. “I think that’s been the key. That’s quite an offensive team to hold off. We’ve kept them to the outside for the most part and have not allowed as many odd-man rushes.
“We’re not giving up many quality scoring chances and that makes my job easier.”
Everblades forward Damian Surma (pictured) agreed that Trenton is doing a great job of clogging the middle.
“They’re a very good systems team,” Surma said. “ We were just trying to do a little too much.
“They move wide in the neutral zone instead of just getting it into the neutral zone.”
One technique Trenton has used successfully on defense is a tactic that defenseman Tim Judy called “picking up sticks.”
“When they go to the net, we try to lift their sticks and control them so they can’t reach around our defense,” he said.
“Our forwards come down and while they help out, we pick up (the Blades’) sticks so we have time to ice the puck.”
The Trenton forwards also are slowing down Florida’s attackers by getting a stick on them and slowing them down, even if it’s for a stride or two.
“That’s huge at this time of the year, especially against a team like that,” Haviland said. “Every little thing counts, whether it be face-off assignments or holding up a guy at neutral ice.”
Trenton couldn’t stop Florida early Sunday. Seething from an embarrassing, 7-0 loss Saturday night, the Blades controlled the tempo early and created end-to-end play that had the crowd excited and created good scoring chances.
“They had us running,” Haviland said.
Allen said, “It was real wide open, for sure, and you figured that. They came out real hard. Last night didn’t go they way they wanted. But it was very important we weather the storm.”
For all of its speed, passing and exciting play, Florida had no goals to show for it.
After 10 minutes, the tempo went back to Trenton’s grind-it-out style and it pretty much stayed that way for the rest of the game.
“We don’t like to think we have a checking line or specialty line,” Munn said. “We just have a bunch of guys committed to a system and willing to pay the price.”