By Len Bardsley
Special to the The Times Of Trenton
TRENTON, N.J. – It was only two years ago that Rick Kowalsky became the missing piece of the Titans’ championship puzzle.
The last time Kowalsky was in a Titans uniform, he was in a jubilant locker room at Germain Arena in Estero, Fla., leading a celebration after clinching the ECHL’s 2005 Kelly Cup over the Florida Everblades.
Kowalsky is back with the Titans this season as the head coach, and knows once again there are championship-size expectations.
“I put pressure on myself,” Kowalsky said. “I told these guys I am not coming in to test the waters as a coach. I am coming here to win. All the successful teams I have played on have talked about championships from Day 1 and this is no different.”
Kowalsky makes his debut as coach when the Titans host the Reading Royals in their season opener, 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Sovereign Bank Arena.
Kowalsky may be a rookie head coach, but he is more than ready for the challenge of coaching in the ECHL after working as an assistant under Mike Haviland for the Norfolk Admirals in the American Hockey League last season.
“I feel prepared for this,” Kowalsky said. “Is there going to be some bumps in the road? Yeah.”
One of Kowalsky’s main jobs before the season was recruiting, and his reputation and the history of the Titans organization helped bring in a stellar group of players that made for a competitive training camp.
“I don’t think it is Rick Kowalsky that gets (players to Trenton),” Kowalsky said. “It is the reputation the team has had in the past in terms of its success on the ice and getting players to the next level. The guys realized there were some returning players from two years ago and once that started to come together it made the recruiting process easier.”