The New Jersey Titans swept the Johnstown Tomahawks in the East Division Semi Finals Best-of-Five Series this past weekend to close out the first round of the NAHL Playoffs.
Jordan Kaplan scored the game-winner in overtime in Game 3 to move him and the club onto the East Division Finals.
New Jersey went 4-8 against Johnstown in the regular season and had lost six of their last seven games in the regular season heading into the playoffs. Yet after sweeping Johnstown to start the playoffs, Titans head coach Craig Doremus knows how resilient his team is.
“I think our ability to win the series against Johnstown is a true testament to just how tight and talented our division was as a whole. Despite our regular season record against the Tomahawks, we felt good about our match up. I think our team was resilient, but more so they showed ability to continually and consistently grow this year. Simply put, we are a better team today than we were a month ago. We have stressed all year not only winning but growth. Sometimes you need to lose a game to grow and learn as a club. I think the first round of the playoffs indicates how much growth and development there has been. It is also a complement to our players and their ability to play three complete games and execute our game plan to the best of their ability,” said Doremus.
The Titans ranked 13th in goals allowed in the regular season but allowed only five goals in the three-game sweep against Johnstown. Doremus mentioned that his team did have extra focus on their defensive schemes heading into the playoffs and also credited his goaltender Ryan Ferland for the team’s defensive success in the series.
“When we started the season, we had a team goal of trying to lead the league in scoring. We were able to have a great offensive regular season but everyone knows in the playoffs you need to be a good defensive hockey team to be successful. We worked on our defensive schemes and coverages on video and in practice. Again, most importantly were our players executing what we wanted to do. We were able to be sound defensively and obviously got great goaltending from Ryan as well,” said Doremus.
The Titans will now play the Aston Rebels in the East Division Finals Best-of-Five Series. Aston led the league in total points and surrendered the fewest goals as a team in the league. The Titans will need to keep their good play going against the top team in the league this weekend.
“Aston is a formidable opponent for sure. The Rebels made it to the final four last year and have had a great season. We are excited about the opportunity to play for a chance to advance to Minnesota for the final four. We are going to approach it one game at a time and make sure we are prepared. We will get back to work Monday morning with our preparation as a team and we eagerly await the start of the series next Friday night in Aston,” said Doremus.
Games 1 and 2 will be played in Aston on Friday, April 28 and Saturday, April 29, as the Titans look to continue their quest towards the Robertson Cup in Minnesota. Puck drop for both games are scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Game 3 will be on the following Friday in Middletown at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are available at the Middletown Sports Complex. Information about the Titans home games can also be reached at (732) 856-9700.
For further information about game updates and more, follow the Titans on Twitter at @NAHLTitans or visit njtitansnahl.com.
By Richie Todd: Titans Media