Somebody getting the old hot foot usually gives rise to fits of laughter. Well, Edmonton Drillers forward Rick Titus got the hot foot at Skyreach Centre last night.
But the visiting Milwaukee Wave weren't laughing after Titus netted a hat trick to spark the Drill to a 14-8 victory over the Wave before a season-low crowd of 4,068.
The win upped the Drill's record to 4-0 and solidified their grip on top spot in the NPSL's North Division.
"Milwaukee is a tougher team than Wichita," smiled Titus. "They bang a bit more. My game is not really a finesse game, it's more of a tough-it-out game.
"Playing against Milwaukee, it's more suited to them as opposed to a more finesse team like Wichita or St. Louis. All our guys were ready to play these guys. They're going to be our toughest competitors in our division. We've got to come out against them 100 per cent every time."
Milwaukee's Jason Willan opened the scoring as he rifled a drive from outside the arc that beat Drill goalkeeper Paul Shepherd for a three-pointer off a restart at 12:31 of the first quarter.
Just 10 seconds after Willan's tally, Martin Dugas set up Titus for his first deuce to cut the Wave lead to 3-2.
At 8:56 of the second, Nebojsa Vignjevic chipped Carmen D'Onofrio's rebound off Milwaukee's Peter Hattrup and in behind Wave 'keeper Victor Nogueria to give the Drill a 4-3 lead.
Less than a minute later, Titus, parked at the top of the box, redirected Nikola Vignjevic's shot off his heel and the Drill had a 6-3 lead at half-time.
"That's a patented play by Nikki. He's a great passer, you don't even really have to redirect it," Titus explained.
Dugas and Paul Dailly netted deuces for the Drill in the third, while Brian Lofton replied for Milwaukee.
Titus completed the hat trick when he deflected Todd Rattee's shot behind Nogueria 23 seconds into the final quarter.
With D'Onofrio in the box serving a misconduct assessed after the Titus tally, Lofton converted a shootout attempt to cut the Drill's lead to 12-6.
"I think of the six goals we gave up, five goals were inside the box," offered Wave coach Keith Tozer after the setback that snapped his club's three-game win streak.
"I thought Victor Nogueria played an unbelievable game but he can't stop goals that are inside the box. I was pretty disappointed with that play and our lack of personality. We didn't seem to have the killer instinct after we gave up the lead."
There were mile-wide grins in the Drill bathhouse following the win that put the locals a full game ahead of Milwaukee in the standings.
Drill captain Kevin Holness was also tipping his hat to Shepherd, who stopped 17 of the 21 shots he faced, including a shootout attempt by Peter Hattrup in the first.
"We're pleased with the fourth consecutive win but today it was Paul Shepherd," Holness said.
"You can say defence, you can say everybody worked hard but Sheppy was always in the right places at the right times. He saved us and kept our momentum going. We built off his presence, his play. Rick was on fire and he's a monster up front."