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Published: Sunday, 4/2/2006

Calm Storm captures key win in shootout

BY LEN BARDSLEY
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

TRENTON - There was no nervousness on the Toledo bench last night when the Storm prepared to enter a shootout against the Trenton Titans at Sovereign Bank Arena last night.

The Storm knew the extra point was crucial in its chase for the North Division title, but was confident in its abilities.

Maybe it was a good thing the Storm didn't know what was happening in Dayton at the same time, because the players might have gripped their sticks a little tighter knowing the opportunity that was in front of them.

The Storm converted three out of five of its shots during the shootout to earn a 2-1 victory against the Titans on a night the Reading Royals fell in regulation to the Bombers.

Toledo's victory and the Royals' loss leaves the Storm two points behind Reading for first place with four games remaining in the regular season.

The Storm will play one of its games-in-hand on the Royals today, but it will have to travel 560 miles to do it. Toledo will face the Bombers at 4 p.m. at the Nutter Center in Fairborn.

Todd Jackson, Scooter Smith and Braecken Kearns all scored in the shootout, ruining what had been an excellent night for Titans' goalie Rejean Beauchemin, who finished with 45 saves.

"It was real big and hard earned,'' Storm coach Nick Vitucci said of the victory. "That was a tough couple of games that we had to play here. I am happy with my team. We kept working hard. It was a good two points for us tonight.''

Logan Koopmans was also impressive for the Storm, but not quite as busy as his counterpart, making 32 saves and stopping every shooter but Chris Pittman in the game-deciding breakaway competition.

The Storm tied the game with 10:17 left in the third period on a short-handed breakaway. Luke Stauffacher failed to keep the puck in the Toledo zone and Jackson picked up the loose puck and raced in alone on Beauchemin, beating him with a forehand move.

"Sometimes the power play can be a little lackadaisical,'' Jackson said.

"When they relax you can get some good chances. We had a couple breakaways and we were fortunate to capitalize on them. I faked a shot and he stayed with me the whole time. There was a little space by his pad and I was lucky to get it by him.''

The Storm's top defenseman, Jason Maleyko, was out of the lineup yesterday. Maleyko dislocated his shoulder Friday night and could be out two to three weeks.



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