By Kevin Klott
Anchorage Daily News
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Fans booed as Les Haggett, his skates clicking back and forth, waited anxiously for overtime to begin inside Sullivan Arena’s visitor tunnel.
The Trenton (N.J.) Titans rookie was riding high from his first postseason goal Friday evening. He slapped his stick against those of teammates for overtime encouragement. His hoops and hollers echoed down Sullivan’s concrete hallways.
“These fans were great,” he said. “They really know how to get them pumped up.”
But Haggett’s hallway screams could hardly deafen Alaska’s sellout crowd of 6,451. Especially after Aces forward Mike Scott scored the game winner to give Alaska a 2-1 overtime victory and send the series to a deciding Game 7.
Scott’s goal in the upper left corner killed Haggett’s grin and saved the Aces from elimination.
“That was a good shot, a good play too,” Haggett said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy coming up here.”
The Titans were riding Tuesday’s 3-0 shutout in New Jersey, and Haggett liked their chances to capture Game 6. Even though Haggett has only been with the Titans since mid-March, he ended up playing a major role Friday night. Haggett had just finished four seasons at Brown University, where he led the Bears in scoring, before signing with Trenton in mid-March.
The Aces grabbed a 1-0 lead midway through the second period and held it until Haggett scored on a wrister at 3:44 of the third period on an assist from Rick Kowalsky. His first playoff goal was a hockey moment Haggett will cherish forever.
“I’ve been getting a lot of chances,” Haggett said. “It was a timely goal too. I’m glad it gave us a chance to get back in it.”
Haggett and the Titans were skating well at that point. Including Haggett’s goal, Trenton reeled off six shots on goal in the first four minutes of the third –and both outplayed and outshot the Aces for much of the third period and overtime.
“I thought we had chances in the third to come up big and win in regulation,” Trenton coach Mike Haviland said. “But (Peter) Aubry came up big for them.”
Aubry finished with 37 saves while Trenton’s Andrew Allen registered 30.
“I thought both goalies were unbelievable tonight,” Haviland said. “Just think about how this series has evolved. It’s two very evenly matched teams.”
Haviland said the Titans have two days to reflect on the loss and move on for Monday’s Game 7. But during those two days, don’t expect Trenton to be fishing for king salmon on Ship Creek or hiking in the Chugach Mountains.
“It’s all business,” he said. “We’re just watching videos and making adjustments. This isn’t a sightseeing tour.”
And though it will be the longest Haggett has been in Alaska, he feels the same way as his coach.
“I wish we could use the time to fish,” he said. “But we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.”