Anthony Calafiore scored three goals and the Titans overcame a 5 – 2 deficit to defeat the visiting Maryland Black Bears 6 – 5 last night in a playoff type atmosphere at the Middletown Sports Complex. The win extends the first place Titans lead to six points over the second place Black Bears.
The Red Buckets went 3 for 5 on the powerplay.
Maryland opened the scoring at 5:04 into the first period. The Black Bears’ Jack Blanchett picked up the loose puck at his own far side half wall and brought it up through center ice and into the offensive zone. As Blanchett gained the line, he took a wrist shot that beat Titans’ goalie Andrew Takacs long side for his seventh goal of the season to make it a 1 – 0 game.
Brendan Dumas tied the contest at 8:24 of the opening period. Owen Luik started the play at the top of his own slot and headmanned the puck up to Calafiore breaking down the near side boards. As Calafiore gained the line, he made a drop pass to Tommy Bannister. As Bannister reached the faceoff dot, he made a backhanded pass through the goalmouth to Dumas who slammed the puck past Maryland netminder Michael Morelli and into the net for his fifteenth goal of the season.
With three minutes remaining in the first, Eric Charpentier was called for boarding to give the Black Bears the man advantage. A minute and a half later, Jacob Brockman gave Maryland the lead. Black Bears forward Brad McNeil had the puck behind the Titans net and passed it back to Kevin Scott at the top of the far side faceoff circle. Scott passed it down low to Brockman who was at the bottom of the faceoff circle, and he took a sharp angle shot the beat Takacs short side to make it a 2 – 1 game.
The Black Bears doubled their lead with a minute remaining in the first period. After David Posma picked up the loose biscuit behind his own net, he started to skate towards the far side corner, but he was knocked off the puck by Maryland’s Aidan McDowell. McDowell took a point-blank shot that was save by Takacs and the rebound came out to Scott. Scott took a wrist shot that was stopped by Takacs but as the Titans netminder was falling, Miles Gunty picked up the loose puck and backhanded it into the open.
The Titans started the middle stanza with the man advantage after Maryland was assessed a delay of game penalty with fifty-one seconds remaining in the first period. Twenty-one seconds into the second period, Calafiore scored his first goal of the game. As Calafiore brought the puck into the offensive zone, he passed it to Dumas on his right at the top of the far side point. Dumas then passed the puck downlow to Chris Carroll in the slot. As Carroll turned to face the net, he passed the puck to Calafiore on his right and the Staten Island, NY native redirected the biscuit into the net for his sixteenth goal of the season.
Maryland regained their two-goal lead at 3:41 into the second. The Black Bears’ Ryan Bottrill brought the puck into the offensive zone on a 3-on-1. As Bottrill reached the slot, he passed the biscuit to Aden Bruich on his right. Bruich immediately sent a return pass to Branden Piku on his left and Piku redirected the biscuit past Takacs for his eighteenth goal of the season.
Eleven seconds later Maryland took a 5 – 2 lead. After Calafiore won the draw deep inside the Maryland zone, the puck went back Charpentier at the far side point. Charpentier passed the puck over to Anthony Mollica on his left. As Mollica went to take a slap shot, it was blocked by Tyler Young who picked up the loose puck and skated down the ice all alone on a breakaway and beat Takacs for his fifth goal of the season.
Despite being down three goals, the Titans didn’t give up and then proceeded to score four unanswered goals starting with 9:24 remaining in the middle stanza. Posma picked up the loose puck at the top of his own slot and passed it up to Bannister at the near side blueline. As Bannister gained the line and went towards the net, he toe dragged in the slot and took a wrist shot that was redirected by Blake Farrell past Morelli to make it a 5 – 3 game.
Maryland’s Dimitry Kebreau was called for hooking at 8:14 into the third period. Less than a minute later, Calafiore brought the Titans within one. After Bannister took a shot that was blocked out front, he picked up his own rebound and skated back towards the far side circle. Bannister passed the puck over to Dumas at the top of the near side circle and Dumas sent the biscuit down low to Calafiore who buried the backdoor pass into the net for his second goal of the game.
A minute after the Titans brought their deficit within one, Maryland’s Young was called for hooking to put the Red Buckets back on the powerplay. After Dumas picked up the loose puck at the top of the near side point, he passed it over to Jack Karlsson on his left who sent a return pass back to Dumas. Dumas took a shot that was redirected by Carroll in front of the net that went up and over the left shoulder of Morelli and into the net to tie the game with 9:04 left in the game.
Calafiore scored his third goal of the night with 1:25 left in the contest. Maryland’s Scott picked up the loose puck behind his own net and went to make a pass into the near side corner but it was intercepted by Ryan Coughlin who immediately forwarded it to Calafiore in the slot and Calafiore took a one-timer that beat Morelli long side to complete the improbable comeback and o close out the scoring and make it a 6 – 5 game.
It was the Titans third win over Maryland this season but first in regulation.
Takacs stopped 24 of 29 shots in the win while Morelli turned aside 36 of 42. Click here for the box score.
The Titans are off this upcoming weekend but will resume play the weekend of February 4 when the Northeast Generals return for a two-game series.