By Len Bardsley
The Times of Trenton
TRENTON, N.J. – Titans defenseman Steve Munn admitted he was concerned.
Did his team, down 2-0, have anything left, heading into the third period of Game 5 on Monday night at the Sovereign Bank Arena?
“You think our character has taken us as far as it will take us,” Munn said, “(but) we feed off each other and reach new levels.”
The Titans hit their playoff high in Game 5, scoring five third-period goals to defeat the Florida Everblades, 5-2, and take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Kelly Cup Finals.
Munn knows, however, the Titans can’t continue to push their luck heading into Game 6 on Wednesday at 7:30 at Germain Arena in Estero, Fla.
The Titans need one win to earn their first Kelly Cup championship.
The Titans pulled a miracle from their bag of tricks on Monday, making up for two poor periods with an epic 20-minute effort.
The players need to get back to a solid, consistent 60-minute effort tonight to avoid being forced into their second Game 7 in three weeks.
Only two teams have won a Game 7 on the road in ECHL history.
The Titans were one of those teams when they defeated the Alaska Aces, 2-0, in Game 7 of the National Conference Finals.
The Titans head to Florida with the same scenario as they went to Alaska, leading the series 3-2. The Aces forced a Game 7 with an overtime victory in Game 6.
It was a spread of 16 years between the Titans’ historic feat and when the Carolina Thunderbirds defeated the Johnstown Chiefs in Game 7 of the finals in the inaugural ECHL season of 1989.
“We have pushed our luck long enough,” Munn said. “I want to make sure we look after this the right away. We have the same `never-say-die’ attitude we had in the third period. We need to play a smart, hard road game.”
The Titans have played some of their best hockey, albeit not their most dramatic hockey away from the Sovereign Bank Arena.
While the Titans have gone 2-3 in their last five home games, they have been 4-1 in their last five road games, and only needed one comeback to earn a win in that stretch.
The Titans have plenty of confidence heading to Germain Arena, having defeated the Everblades in the first two games in Estero in front of sellout crowds.
“The good thing is we have won in that building,” said Titans coach Mike Haviland. “We know we can go in there. We know what kind of crowd it will be. They will be fired up. We will go down and be ready to go with our business-like attitude. The toughest game to win is (the last one). We will regroup and go at it.”
Haviland feels the difficult Alaska series will work to his team’s advantage in Florida.
“It is great we did the same thing in Alaska,” Haviland said. “We set ourselves up to win one hockey game. That is all we are concerned about, is Wednesday night’s game.”
Titans captain Rick Kowalsky was even more specific.
“We are going to take the momentum,” Kowalsky said. “It will be a battle. We are not looking any farther than the first 10 minutes. We know they are going to come hard and we are going to be ready.”