It may be the only time you'll hear members of the Toledo Storm say they don't want to be like their National Hockey League parent club, the Detroit Red Wings.
Down 2-0 to the Trenton Titans in a best-of-five Northern Conference semifinal playoff series heading into tonight's (7:30) Game 3 at the Sports Arena, the Storm is hoping to play like Los Angeles did in eliminating Detroit this week from the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The underdog Kings rallied from road losses in Games 1 and 2 with four consecutive victories over the Wings.
Although just three victories, not four, are required, that's what Toledo must do to have a chance to drink from the Kelly Cup.
One loss, and Toledo's East Coast Hockey League season is over.
“Did anybody think L.A. would beat Detroit four in a row?” Storm goaltender Mark Bernard said. “They went home, made some adjustments and they won. Hopefully we can be the `L.A. Kings' in this series.”
After being drubbed 6-0 in Monday's Game 1 at Trenton, Toledo lost Game 2 on Tuesday 4-2, the Titans closing with an empty-net goal. After Monday's game, Storm coach Dennis Holland chucked the passive, right-wing lock system and opted for a more physical, attacking style of play.
“Game 1, we didn't have much of a chance,” Holland said. “But after Game 2 we believe that if we compete and play hard that we can beat this team.
“Technically, we want to be more aggressive against Trenton than we were against Roanoke (in the first round of the playoffs). We want to take time and space away from them.”
Taking things away is something Trenton has done with great success against the Storm, the highest scoring team in the ECHL during the regular season. Toledo has been outscored 10-2 in the series.
Toledo is 0-4 against the Titans this season, with the last loss being the closest. In the regular season, Trenton won 8-0 and 6-1. In the last two games, the Storm had a total of 27 shots at Titans' goaltender Scott Stirling. Toledo was held to two shots in the third period of Game 1 and one shot in the second period of Game 2.
“They do a great job in front of the net blocking shots,” Toledo forward Andrew Williamson said. “Stirling only gets about 18 shots a game. No wonder his pads look like they're brand new.”
Stirling's equipment isn't the only thing Storm fans will notice this evening. Williamson was moved from right wing to center Tuesday and played well enough for Holland to keep him there.
“I like the challenge,” Williamson said. “I found that when I played center I could be a little more aggressive and was into the game a lot more.”
The game Toledo is hoping to play tonight will focus on aggression and hitting. The Storm hope to use the small (180' x 80') ice surface at the Sports Arena to its advantage.
“We're going to be the most physical, nasty bunch of guys you've seen this season in Game 3,” Holland said. “We'll find out if they want to play that style.”
Said Williamson: “It's going to be a war here. I think when the crowd sees what kind of hockey we're going to play that they will really be into it.”
If Toledo wins tonight, Game 4 will be back at the Sports Arena tomorrow at 7:30. Game 5, if necessary, is Tuesday in New Jersey.
“They are very well-coached and are a very disciplined team,” Bernard said. “But I do think they're beatable. If not, they wouldn't be in the ECHL like the rest of us.”
NOTES: Center Shawn Maltby, who injured his right ankle in the Roanoke series and played sparingly in Game 1, will not play tonight ... Holland said that center Jeff Johnstone, a healthy scratch in Game 2, might play tonight in hopes of jump-starting a Toledo power-play that is 0-for-5 in the series.