While the NHL sorts out its issues, I am proud to announce Get Real Hockey will have an in person presence at the ECHL level with the Trenton Titans. Check back here for post game recaps, prospect reports, and recent events. Interested in in-game updates? Check twitter @getrealhockeyMJ, and in-game blogging that will take place at www.grh-titans.blogspot.com .
As the 2012-2013 ECHL season kicks off tomorrow night in Trenton against the Greenville Road Warriors, many wonder how this Trenton team will play. With an influx of talent due to the lack of AHL roster spots–because of the current NHL lockout–this Trenton team has to improve upon its lackluster return as the Trenton Titans last year.
With that being said, the first entry in my ECHL writings will take a look at the top 3 questions in Trenton.
First and most importantly, the goaltending is at question. Last year, the defense was often at fault. However, the Titans are going to have to get much better goaltending out of Flyers prospect Niko Hovinen and new back-up goalie, off a tryout contract–Jody O’neill. Some of you might be wondering–Who?! Hovinen, signed by the Flyers last summer, comes over from Finland and is a massively imposing goalie at 6’6. Originally drafted by the Minnesota Wild, Hovinen lost out as the AHL backup to another Flyers prospect, Ohio State’s Cal Heeter. Due to his massive size, he covers a ton of the net, but needs to work on his angles and rebound control to improve. Hovinen is going to have to show he belongs here in North America to make his way up, some day, to the AHL.
Second, how will Phantoms mainstays of last year Jason Akeson (their leading scorer) and defensman Blake Kessel play after being demoted? Many think that because of the lockout and Flyers players such as Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, etc.. that is was simply a numbers game. However, Philadelphia writer Bill Metzler mentioned earlier this week that the Flyers wanted Akeson to become a more complete player. While he had 55 points in 76 games last year, Akeson was also a -9, showing he needs to improve his defensive efforts to warrant future NHL consideration. As Metzler put it, it was very telling that Akeson and Kessel weren’t playoff “black aces” while the Flyers were in the playoffs last year.
Finally, will the defense improve? Often times last year, the Titans were allowing far too many second chance shots, leading to many goals. The number of defensive turnovers committed by the Titans last year was astounding. Helping out Hovinen as he adjusts to the North American game will be key.
I look forward to cover all Titans home games this year, and while the NHL may be missing, there is still some great hockey to be played right here in Trenton. Look for my first in-game update tomorrow before the puck drops with the opening night line-up.
Follow me for all ECHL and NHL chatter @getrealhockeyMJ