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Titans drop weekend opener

MIDDLETOWN, N.J. – The Aston Rebels bested the Titans in a game of dump-and-chase by a 4-1 score Friday night at home.

New Jersey outshot Aston 16-10 in the first period but couldn’t find the net. However, the Rebels found the net twice off the sticks of Mike Merulla and Dean Balsamo.

It appeared the Titans had gotten one back in the final minute of the first period, but found themselves with the worst bit of luck.

Ray Brice pounced on a loose puck after Aston goalie Darion Hansen had trouble controlling a rebound after he made an initial save off his chest. Hansen juggled and dropped the puck right to the stick of Brice and put it in the net.

However, the referee had already blown the whistle despite the fact that the puck was still loose in front of the goal crease. It allowed the Rebels to carry a two-goal lead into the intermission.

More trouble ensued for the Titans as Frank Spellman found the net for the Rebels at 7:11 of the second period. Roberts Smits, however, gave the Titans some hope when he scored his eighth goal since joining the Titans in January. It came on the power play with just 45 seconds left in the second period.

There was hope for a comeback, but they were all but dashed when Spellman added his second of the game at 12:14 of the third period.

The Titans also had trouble on the penalty kill as Aston finished the game 2-for-2 on the power play. Spencer Wright, meanwhile finished the game with 23 saves for the Titans in the loss.

The Titans won’t have much time to dwell on the loss, as they’ll be back in action Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. against the Johnstown Tomahawks at Middletown Ice World.