Titans lose fifth straight after controversial goal

The Titans had all the effort, but a controversial game-winning goal cost them a win. (Candice Monhollan)

The Titans had all the effort, but a controversial game-winning goal cost them a win. (Candice Monhollan)

TRENTON, N.J. – After two lackluster games where the Trenton Titans were out-played, out-hustled and just about out-everything, they came out looking like a team on a mission Saturday night against the Wheeling Nailers. It turned into a battle of the goaltenders as Dave Caruso, making his third consecutive start for the Titans, and Peter Delmas refused to budge for most of the game.

After allowing 11 goals over the last two games, it was a remarkable turnaround for Caruso, who was riding a three-game losing streak. He came up big several times throughout the game when he needed.

Unfortunately for the Titans, a controversial goal call ended up being the difference as they fell 2-1 to the Nailers for a season high fifth straight loss and brought their record to 2-8 over their last 10 games.

It was the former Titan who came to haunt the team as Peter Lenes, about a month removed from being traded to the Nailers, scored the game-winning goal. The puck was ruled to have never crossed the goal line, but after conversing with the goal judge, it was decided a goal, though no one seemed positive on the ruling.

“It was a quick 3-on-2…I shot it quick and it curled and it could have hit the pad that’s inside the post, that’s the way I look at it,” Lenes said. “The refs made a decision on it, and that’s what we’re going with.”

It was the first time Lenes played against his old team since the trade. Through 32 games with the Titans, Lenes tallied seven goals and five assists, but in his 13 games with Wheeling, he has scored 12 goals and five assists.

For the Titans, the call was a back-breaker since it was the one that cost them the chance to get back on the right track.

“I think they should have video replay in this league,” Caruso said. “It’s tough to lose a game where we played so well. The forwards blocked shots, the [defense] blocked shots, we were hitting, we’re going to the net, and to lose on a call that – maybe it went it, maybe it didn’t – I would say it didn’t and I think a lot of people would say it didn’t.”

Head coach Vince Williams found it hard to even get the words out on his feelings towards the goal.

“The only thing I was told was ‘I think it went in,’” Williams said. “That’s exactly what I heard (from the ref). Well, if you think, then you don’t know. I’m at a loss for words. It’s frustrating because it’s yes or no. If you don’t know, then it’s inconclusive in my eyes.”

The Titans came out with more jump than what had been seen in several games at home. Delmas made several huge saves in the first 10 minutes when it could easily have been 3-0 Titans, including a pad save on a 2-on-1 from Andy Bohmbach and Adam Presizniuk.

Delmas was finally cracked in the second period as Steve Silva’s shot beat the 21 year old, but was saved as the puck clanked off the crossbar with 3:40 left in the second to keep the game scoreless through the first two periods.

It took until the third period for a goaltender to budge first, and Caruso was the one when 47 seconds in, Paul Crowder tallied his 12th of the season to give the Nailers a 1-0 lead.

Roughly two minutes later, a joint effort kept the Titans off the board as Delmas made the initial save, but was out of position as a shot came from the blue line, but defenseman Olivier Dame-Malka dove across the goal line and blocked the puck from going in.

It wouldn’t be long until the goaltender on the other end cracked. Rob Bordson pounced on a rebound in front to break Delmas’ bid at his first shutout of the season 3:16 into the third.

Lenes, who was buzzing all night around the Titans’ net, finally scored the goal he was itching for. His shot from down low hit the right post and seemed to have slid across the goal line. The light went on behind the net, but the ref signaled no goal. At the stoppage of play, however, it was ruled by the goal judged that it counted, giving the Nailers a 2-1 lead at 10:37 that would end up as the game winner.

The Titans will try to take the effort from the game and put the goal behind them as they try to continue to fight to move out of the Eastern Conference’s basement.

“In life, there’s always a new day,” Caruso said. “It doesn’t matter how many you get scored on you the day before, it’s how you perform the next day.”

Williams said Chris Berenguer and Denny Kearney are out for the remainder of the season.


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Categories: ECHL, Ice Hockey, Sports

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