Dominik Bartecko scored with twenty-one seconds remaining in overtime to give the Titians a 5 – 4 win over the visiting Maine Nordiques last night at the Middletown Sports Complex.
It was Bartecko’s second game winning goal in the five games he has played for the Red Buckets since his arrival two weeks ago. It was the Titans seventh straight win.
In a battle of two hot teams, with the Titans having entered this two-game series the winners of six straight while the Nordiques had won nine out of their last ten games, it was the Nordiques who took a commanding three goal lead just eleven and a half minutes into the first period.
Kellen Murphy gave the Nordiques a 1 – 0 lead just 2:56 into the game. Ryan Novo had the puck at the Nordiques near side corner and started to skate up the wall and went to make a cross-ice pass to Owen Wilson at the point but the puck went of Wilson’s stick and all the back into the Titans zone where it was picked up by Maine’s Brendan Gibbons. As Gibbons picked up the loose puck at the far side faceoff dot, he made a centering pass out front that was redrected by Murphy in the slot and past Titans netminder Marino Ramirez and into the back of the net for Murphy’s ninth goal of the season.
Twenty-four seconds later Maine’s Alexey Yarmulnik scored his first of two goals of the evening to give the visitors a 2 – 0 lead. Maine’s Blake Rothstein picked up the loose puck out of a scrum near the top of the blueline just inside the Titans zone, and Rothstein backhanded the biscuit into the far side corner where it was picked up by Brendan Gibbons. Gibbons made a centering pass out front to Yarmulink in the goalmouth, and Yarmulink redirected the puck up high off the crossbar and into the net past Ramierz.
The Nordiques went up 3 – 0 with 8:25 remaining in the first. Murphy picked up the loose puck at center ice along the near side boards and dumped it into the Titans zone where it was picked up by Wilson behind his own net. As Wilson started to skate towards the left of the net, he was knocked off the puck by Gibbons who sent the biscuit out front where it was picked up by Yarmulnik who skated across the crease and backhanded the puck past Ramierz for Yarmulnik’s second goal of the game and season.
Ramierz (5 saves on 8 shots) was immediately pulled from the game and replaced by Zak Brice.
Like they have all season, the Titans mounted their own comeback. With 7:57 left in the period, Rothstein was called for slashing to give the Titans the man advantage. Twenty-two seconds later Levente Keresztes put the Red Buckets on the board. After Maine’s Kael Depape made a save, the rebound came out to Michael Young at the near side corner who sent the biscuit back to Eric Charpentier at the point. The Dartmouth commit sent the biscuit over to Bartecko at the top of the far side faceoff circle. Bartecko made a cross-ice pass to Young just inside the near side faceoff circle, and Young sent a pass along the ice out front to Keresztes who redirected the biscuit past Depage and into the net for the Budapest Hungry native’s seventh goal of the season.
Captain Anthony Calafiore cut the Titans deficit in half at 3:08 into the second period. Joe Harney picked up the loose puck at his own far side corner and passed it up to Ben Yurchuk at the faceoff circle who sent a touch pass to Bartecko. As Bartecko reached center ice, he made a pass up to Calafiore just outside the offensive zone. As Calafiore gained the line, he split the defense and went towards the net. With Maine’s Sterling Wolters on his back, Calafiore cut towards Depage’s right and slid the puck past the Nordiques goaltender for Calafiore’s ninth goal of the season.
Brady Hildreth scored at 9:22 of the middle stanza to tie the game at three. With play inside the offensive zone, Young had the puck behind the goal line and started to skate towards the net. As Young moved, he was tripped from behind and made a pass as he was falling down to Sylas Oberting in the slot. Now on the delayed penalty, Oberting went towards the net and backhanded a shot that blocked out front but Hildreth tapped in the loose puck past Depage for his first goal of the season.
Just at the halfway point of the second, Charpentier was called for cross-checking to give the Nordiques the man advantage. A minute later they regained the lead. The Nordiques’ Patrick Schmiedlin started the play at the far side half wall and skated towards the top of the high slot. As Schmiedlin started to go to the near side faceoff circle, he took a wrist shot that was saved by Brice but the rebound came right out to Oliver Genest who redirected it past Brice and into the net for Genest’s fifth goal of the season.
Young knotted the score at four just twenty-four seconds into the third period. Just after play began, Rothstein brought the puck into the neutral zone, As Rothstein was cut off by Keresztes, Rothstein sent a pass back to John Paul Steele who was stripped of the puck by Keresztes who went into the offensive zone. As Keresztes gained the line, he made a cross-ice pass from the top of the far side circle to Young who one-timed it past Depage for Young’s eighth goal of the season.
After regulation ended tied at four, it went into overtime. With time in the extra period winding down, it appeared as if the game was going to head into a shootout but the Titans, again, didn’t give up.
Playing three-on-three hockey, Bartecko dumped the puck into the Maine zone where it was picked up by the Nordiques’ Nicholas Bernardo at the end wall. As Bernardo started to skate towards the near side circle, he was stripped of the puck by Calafiore, who made a backhanded pass in the slot to Bartecko who redirected the biscuit past Depage to win the game as overtime was coming to a close.
Brice stopped 22 of 23 shots in relief of Ramirez for the win while Depage turned aside 29 of 34. Click here for the complete box score.
Game two of this two-game series is tonight at 7:00PM.