By Adam Kimelman
The Times of Trenton
TRENTON, N.J. – After 72 regular-season games and another 16 brutal, physical playoff contests that have seen them travel from one end of North America to the other, the Trenton Titans have a chance this weekend to do something for the capital city that hasn’t been done in more than a half-century.
The Titans, who enter Friday’s home game holding a 2-0 series lead over the Florida Everblades in their best-of-seven Kelly Cup Finals series, have a chance to bring a professional sports championship here for the first time since the Trenton Giants did it in 1949.
If the team wins Game 3 of its series Friday (7:30), it could claim the Cup as soon as Saturday (7 p.m.) or in Game 5 on Monday (5 p.m.) at Sovereign Bank Arena. Games 6 and 7, if necessary, would be back in Florida.
It’s the second time in the franchise’s six-year history that the Titans have played for the ECHL title. In their second season, 2000-01, the Titans lost in five games in the league final. The league, which was formed in 1988, is the second-highest level of minor-league hockey in North America.
Veteran forward Scott Bertoli, who has been with the Titans since the franchise’s inception, remembers how much community support there was for the team then, and sees something similar building again.
“The first couple years were unbelievable, the support we got throughout the community,” he said. “The stuff was on billboards, in the paper, and we’re starting to see that again now. This is similar to what stuff was like the first couple years. The difference now is there’s a championship on the line, and I think people are more excited because there’s that possibility.
“The team and the players and the organization are on the verge of something huge.”
That something would be the first professional sports title in Trenton since the 1949 Giants won the Class-B Interstate League baseball title. That title capped a run by the team that saw it finish first in 1947 and 1948 and win league titles in 1948 and 1949. The following year, future baseball Hall-of-Famer Willie Mays joined the squad. But after a fourth-place finish, the team left town.