(PR) Johnstown, PA, February 19, 2010 – Sidelined for ten games because of injury, Chris Poli made a triumphant return to the lineup Friday in Johnstown, notching two points in Trenton’s 3-1 win over the Chiefs. Dave Caruso earned his third consecutive victory, his 11th of the year, making 32 saves and trimming his GAA to 3.17.
In the Devils’ second and final visit to Johnstown of the season, Friday was the first game for the Chiefs since Sunday’s announcement that the franchise would relocate to Greenville, SC for play next season. Less than 1700 fans at the famed Cambria County War Memorial Arena witnessed a rhythmic first period with the home team generating the better scoring chances. The Chiefs had two power plays in the first ten minutes, but the Devils defense settled in, bolstered by the return of Justin Coutu who had been out since February 3.
Trenton stepped up its offensive pace as the first period wore on and Chris Poli reacclimated to game speed in his first contest since a three point performance January 18. Just moments after a crashing Coutu redirected a feed over the cross bar, Chris Murray interrupted the Johnstown breakout and found Poli going down the right wing. With Dan Charleston trailing the play in the middle, Poli stickhandled around a defender, toward the slot and fired it past goalie John Murray for his fourth of the year and a 1-0 lead at 17:52.
A choppy second period saw an exchange of fruitless power plays, with a stretch of four-on-four hockey mixed in. Johnstown took advantage of a rare Trenton lapse defensively late in the middle frame. Brian Kaufman started at the right point and worked it to the left wing corner to recently acquired Matthew Kang. The former Las Vegas Wrangler found a man parked in the middle, Jeff Martens, who needed an extra second to settle the puck. With the defense quickly surrounding him he ripped the tying goal past Caruso at 15:06, Martens’ second of the season.
Trenton used crisp passing on the power play to take the lead back in the third period. With the Devils already on a five-on-four advantage, Trevor Hendrikx took his third minor of the game (his 42 minors leads the league) at 10:00 leading to a lengthy two-man edge for Trenton. The Devils needed only ten seconds of that to find the back of the net. With winger Dan Charleston manning the right point, he found Chris Poli at the right goal line for a quick centering feed to Matt Vokes for the backdoor finish. The game winning goal gave Vokes his seventh tally of the year, Poli his second point of the night and 17th of the season in his 16th game, and Charleston a four game point streak.
Dan Eves added an unassisted empty net goal in the last minute of play, his 12th on the year, sealing a 3-1 victory for the Devils, their second straight and fourth in the last five games. With its tenth road win of the season, Trenton (20-23-4-5, 49pts) is now within five points of Reading in second place, and 13 points ahead of Johnstown (14-30-5-3, 36pts) for third. The Devils and Chiefs battle again Saturday night in the final contest for Trenton at the Cambria County War Memorial.