Titans, Everblades Spend Day Off In Different Ways

By Ed Reed
The News-Press

TRENTON, N.J. – The Florida Everblades and Trenton Titans took different approaches to their off day between Games 4 and 5 of the ECHL Kelly Cup Finals.

While Titans coach Mike Haviland allowed his squad a day away from Sovereign Bank Arena, which has turned into a house of horrors for the home team, the Blades were on the ice practicing Sunday afternoon.

Of course, when you’re on the road, it’s supposed to be all about business. Florida has been taking care of that, winning the first two of the three games of its final road trip of the year to tie the best-of-7 championship series at two games apiece. The fifth game will be at 5 p.m. today.

After surrendering two-goal leads in the past two games and suffering defeats of 5-4 in overtime Friday and 6-3 on Saturday, the last thing many of the Titans probably wanted to see Sunday was a hockey rink.

“I think just to get away from the rink and just kind of clear your head and come back and be ready for Monday,” Trenton coach Mike Haviland said.

Although they did skate, albeit only for a short time and with many of their players sitting out practice, the Blades were happy not to see anyone in a Titans’ uniform on the ice with them.

“I think it’s going to benefit both teams,” said Blades forward Damian Surma, who left Saturday’s game in the third period after his legs cramped and did not practice Sunday. Surma said he will play today.

“Both teams are a little banged-up right now. Days off never hurt anybody. It’s a good time to rest the body and get refocused.”

Florida coach Gerry Fleming was going to take no chances by giving his team a complete day off. He did that in the American Conference Finals against the Charlotte Checkers on the road after his team took a 2-1 series lead and had a day off before Game 4. The Checkers won that game 4-1.

“I just want to get the guys here and get them focused,” Fleming said. “When we didn’t practice in Charlotte, looking back at it now, maybe it came back to bite us. We didn’t want to run that risk again. You reflect and look back and you hopefully learn by the decisions you make.”

The Blades know what it’s like to lose two consecutive games at home in this series. Trenton bounced Florida by scores of 7-0 and 2-1 at Germain Arena to hand the Blades their first back-to-back losses since Dec. 10 and 11, to South Carolina in Estero. Trenton had not lost two in a row since Feb. 15 and 16.

“We know how that feels, obviously,” Blades defenseman Ryan Brindley said. “It’s (Saturday’s win) obviously a big game, but our goal is to come here and win three hockey games and we’re one away.”

With an emotional frame of reference, the Blades think they know what to expect from the Titans today.

“They’re going to come out hard,” Florida forward Brad Church said. “They don’t want to lose three at home and they don’t want to go back to Florida down 3-2. We have to be at our best to beat them again.”

One thing Florida would like to improve on is its starts. Trenton built 3-1 second-period leads in each of the past two games. It takes a lot of energy, and some friendly bounces, to come back from a deficit like that against a hard-checking, defensive team like Trenton. Keep in mind that the Titans, behind netminder Andrew Allen, had allowed only three goals and registered three shutouts in its five previous games before Friday night’s Game 3.

“We have to be ready, not like (Saturday),” Surma said. “We had a couple of good bounces there to get us back into it, but you can’t keep giving this team leads. We gave them a lead in the first game and they came up 7-0 on us, so we have to play better defensively, and physical.”

The Blades did recover from that Game 1 loss to play much better in Game 2, but they still lost. They don’t want to lose again.

“Game 2 we thought we played well. You just have to stay persistent,” Brindley said. “We have a lot of character on this team and we keep working and we believe in each other. It’s every shift. We have to go play the way we can and let the chips fall where they fall.”

Florida coach Gerry Fleming was going to take no chances by giving his team a complete day off. He did that in the American Conference Finals against the Charlotte Checkers on the road after his team took a 2-1 series lead and had a day off before Game 4. The Checkers won that game 4-1.

“I just want to get the guys here and get them focused,” Fleming said. “When we didn’t practice in Charlotte, looking back at it now, maybe it came back to bite us. We didn’t want to run that risk again. You reflect and look back and you hopefully learn by the decisions you make.”

The Blades know what it’s like to lose two consecutive games at home in this series. Trenton bounced Florida by scores of 7-0 and 2-1 at Germain Arena to hand the Blades their first back-to-back losses since Dec. 10 and 11, to South Carolina in Estero. Trenton had not lost two in a row since Feb. 15 and 16.

“We know how that feels, obviously,” Blades defenseman Ryan Brindley said. “It’s (Saturday’s win) obviously a big game, but our goal is to come here and win three hockey games and we’re one away.”

With an emotional frame of reference, the Blades think they know what to expect from the Titans today.

“They’re going to come out hard,” Florida forward Brad Church said. “They don’t want to lose three at home and they don’t want to go back to Florida down 3-2. We have to be at our best to beat them again.”

One thing Florida would like to improve on is its starts. Trenton built 3-1 second-period leads in each of the past two games. It takes a lot of energy, and some friendly bounces, to come back from a deficit like that against a hard-checking, defensive team like Trenton. Keep in mind that the Titans, behind netminder Andrew Allen, had allowed only three goals and registered three shutouts in its five previous games before Friday night’s Game 3.

“We have to be ready, not like (Saturday),” Surma said. “We had a couple of good bounces there to get us back into it, but you can’t keep giving this team leads. We gave them a lead in the first game and they came up 7-0 on us, so we have to play better defensively, and physical.”

The Blades did recover from that Game 1 loss to play much better in Game 2, but they still lost. They don’t want to lose again.

“Game 2 we thought we played well. You just have to stay persistent,” Brindley said. “We have a lot of character on this team and we keep working and we believe in each other. It’s every shift. We have to go play the way we can and let the chips fall where they fall.”