By Rob Chakler
TRENTON, N.J. – Nobody knew exactly what to expect from either team taking the ice less than 24 hours after playing seven periods of hockey in Game 1, and it was up to the coaches to motivate their players in a pivotal Game 2.
The T-Devils could ill afford to lose the first two games in its own building before traveling to First Arena in Elmira where they have won only three times in eight tries this season.
In an interesting coaching chess match, Rick Kowalsky stuck with Gerald Coleman in net while Elmira coach Steve Martinson went with Riku Helenius from the AHL in goal to replace Game 1 starter Michael Teslak.
Kowalsky put Martinson in check as Helenius gave up a couple of soft goals and helped the T-Devils tie the series with a 6-5 win on Saturday night at Sovereign Bank Arena.
Coleman didn’t play his sharpest game of the season, allowing the five goals, but got the job done with 28 saves to pick up the win.
Trevor Kell and Matt Radoslovich scored in the third period to put the T-Devils in front, 6-3 before Trenton allowed two goals in 84 seconds to see Elmira cut the deficit to one with 6:23 remaining in regulation.
Unlike Friday, however, the T-Devils were able to close out the final minutes of the third period and finish the game in regulation.
“I was praying we weren’t (going to overtime),” Kowalsky said. “That’s playoff hockey. Radoslovich, Eves and Zancanaro just dominated down low. … (Elmira) threw a couple through traffic at the end and they are a momentum team. They are an emotional group and they get that goal and get some energy.”
Tony Zancanaro was one of six different goal scorers and is tied for the league lead after scoring his third goal of the postseason. He tied the game at 1-1 after Elmira jumped on the board first.
“We had some good legs after a long game like that so it was nice to see,” Zancanaro said. “This is my first playoff in pro hockey so I’m enjoying it, every second of it.
The teams will travel to Elmira for Games 3, 4 and 5 on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and will return to Trenton for Game 6 on April 19 at 6 p.m if neither team is able to sweep in New York.