Balance attack leads Titans to 6 – 2 win over Danbury to clinch playoff birth

Mar 29, 2023

Six different players scored to lead the Titans to a 6 – 2 win over the visiting Danbury Jr. Hat Trick and clinch a spot in the 2023 NAHL Robertson Cup playoffs that begin in three weeks.

Since the Division’s inception starting with the 2015-16 season, the Titans are the only team in the East to make the playoffs every year (excluding the suspended COVID season of 2019-20). They now have a chance to repeat as national champions.

The game didn’t start the way the Red Buckets had wanted as Danbury scored just forty-five seconds into the first period. After the Tricks Liam Varmecky brought the puck into the offensive zone by the near side boards, he threw a backhanded pass into the slot that went off the stick of Titans defensemen Matej Teply and right to David Overbeeke who took a quick shot that beat Zak Brice shortside for Overbeeks’ second goal of the season.

The Titans then went onto score five consecutive goals beginning with 6:34 remaining in the opening period off the stick of Ethan Wongus. Owen Luik brought the puck up along the far side boards from his own half wall, through center ice and into the offensive zone. As Luik reached the faceoff dot, he made a centering pass out front that was redirected by Wongus and past Danbury’s goalie Karlis Mezsargs for Wongus’ fourth goal of the season.

Just forty-nine seconds into the second period, Danbury was assessed a bench minor for too many men on the ice. Twenty-nine seconds later Brendan Dumas gave the Titans the lead for good. After Dumas brought the puck into the offensive zone along the near side boards, he reversed at the faceoff dot and sent a pass back to Eric Charpentier at the top of the slot. Charpentier passed the biscuit to Dominik Bartecko at the far side faceoff dot, and Bartecko immediately made a cross-ice pass through the slot to Dumas who took a wrist shot that beat Mezsargs high blocker side for Dumas’ fourteenth goal of the season.

The Titans scored the second powerplay goal of the game with 8:51 remaining in the middle stanza. Ben Muthersbaugh picked up the loose puck in Danbury’s far side corner and sent it back to Luik at the point. Luik took a clapper that was saved by Mezsargs but the puck bounced out of his glove and right to Ryan Novo on the doorstep and Novo slammed home the rebound into the back of the net for his ninth goal of the season.

Joe Harney gave the Titans a 4 – 1 lead with their third powerplay goal of the night with just twenty-eight seconds left in the second. After the draw was won deep inside the Tricks’ zone, the biscuit went back to Harney at the far side point. Harney then sent the puck up to Muthersbaugh at the half wall and he sent down to Novo at the goal line. Novo immediately sent the biscuit back to Harney now at the top of the far side faceoff circle and he took a slapshot that found its way through a screen and past Mezsargs for Harney’s sixth goal of the season.

Teply made it 5 – 1 Titans at 4;59 into the third period for his first NAHL career goal. Overbeek scored his second goal of the game with 7:39 left in the contest to make it 5 – 2, and  Johnny McMahon lit the lamp with 2:16 remaining to make it 6 – 2 and close out the scoring.

Zak Brice and Marino Ramirez combined to stop 29 of 31 shots while Mezsargs turned aside 36 of 42. Click here for the complete box score.

Michael Young played in his 100th NAHL career game.

The Titans now have six games remaining in the regular season. They will complete their home schedule this weekend with a pair of games against Northeast and then finish the season on the road for two series first at Maine and then at Johnstown.