Ryan Coughlin scored with 00:01 remaining in the game to give the Titans a thrilling 5 – 4 come-from-behind victory over the visiting Northeast Generals in the fifth and deciding contest of the East Division semi-final series. The Titans now will face the Jamestown Rebels in a five-game series that begins on Friday at the Middletown Sports Complex.
Before Coughlin’s heroics, the Titans had to overcome 3 – 0 and 4 – 2 deficits to even stay in the game.
This contest started just like Saturday night’s game with the Generals scoring three unanswered goals to take a commanding lead.
Northeast’s Ryan Corcoran opened the scoring for the visitors at 7:11 into the first period. After Generals netminder Cullen DeYoung made a save, the puck went into the far side corner where it was picked up by Northeast’s Brent Keefer who skated through his own goalmouth, center ice and into the offensive zone. As Keefer gained the line on a 3-on-2, he passed the biscuit over to Corcoran on his left and Corcoran took a wrist shot that founds its way through a screen and beat Titans netminder Andrew Takacs to make it a 1 – 0 game.
The Generals doubled their lead with nine minutes remaining in the opening period. Northeast’s Alex Krause picked up the loose puck at his own near side half wall and passed it over to Corcoran on his right. As Corcoran brought the puck through center ice, he entered the offensive zone on a 2 – on – 1 with Jared Scott. As Corcoran gained the line, he passed the biscuit through the slot to Scott on his right and Scott redirected the backdoor pass behind Takacs for Scott’s third goal of the playoffs.
Ryan Gordin made it 3 – 0 for the Generals at 3:18 into the second period on a goal that Takacs wishes he could have back. Looking to breakout of their own zone, Northeast’s Douglas Friberg sent a pass up to Sixten Jennersjö waiting outside the Titans zone who made a shuttle pass to Gordin at the middle of the blueline. As Gordin gained the line, he skated towards the bottom of the near side faceoff circle and took a wrist shot that went through Takacs’ five hole and trickled into the net for Gordin’s first goal of the playoffs.
At 6:27 of the middle stanza Jennersjö was called for slashing to give the Titans the man advantage. Twelve seconds later Colin Grable put the Titans on the board. David Posma started the play at the top of the far side point when he pitch forked a pass to Billy Feczko at the half wall. Feczko turned and passed the biscuit down low to Levente Keresztes, who was behind the goal line and to the left of DeYoung. Keresztes made a centering pass through the goalmouth to Coughlin who took a wrist shot that DeYoung made an incredible stick save but the rebound came right out to Grable on the doorstep and Grable knocked the biscuit into the back of the net to make it a 3 – 1 game.
The Titans cut their deficit in half two minutes later on Carroll’s second goal of the playoffs. After the Generals dumped the puck into the Titans zone, it was picked up by Grable in his own near side corner and he sent a high bounce pass off the glass that dropped into the offensive zone where it was retrieved by Anthony Calafiore. As Calafiore went to the end wall, he turned and made a centering pass out front to a wide-open Carroll in the slot, and Carroll wristed the puck past DeYoung for Carroll’s second goal of the playoffs.
Northeast went up 4 – 2 with 9:22 remaining in the second period. After the Generals’ David Andreychuk won the draw deep inside the Titans zone, the puck went back to Paul Minnehan at the far side point. Minnehan took a shot that was deflected out front and past Takacs for Minnehan’s first goal of the playoffs.
Then it was all Titans.
Stephen Willey brought the Titans to within one with 3:24 left in the middle stanza. Rocco Testa-Basi picked up the loose puck behind the Generals net and passed it to Eric Charpentier at the far side half wall. Charpentier took a shot that was saved by DeYoung, but the deep rebound came out to Jack Karlsson at the near side point. Karlsson took a clapper that was deflected by Willey in the slot and past DeYoung to make it a 4 – 3 game.
Nick Ring tied the game with 1:50 remaining in the second. After the Generals dumped the puck into the Titans zone, it was played by Takacs to the right of his cage, and he passed it up to Own Luik at the near side half wall. Luik head manned the puck to a breaking Ring through center ice. As Ring gained the line, he skated towards the near side faceoff circle and took a low line wrist shot that beat DeYoung glove side for Ring’s third goal of the playoffs.
After having scored four goals in the middle stanza, the Titans looked for more in the third, but DeYoung made several outstanding saves to keep the game tied. As time was about to expire, Coughlin sent his teammates and the vocal fans into hysteria.
After DeYoung made an incredible windmill save on Carroll with seven seconds remaining in the game, the ensuing faceoff was to DeYoung’s left. Corcoran won the draw and the puck went into the near side corner where it was picked up by Carroll. Carroll looked and found Coughlin in the slot. Coughlin took a shot that was saved by DeYoung but Coughlin picked up his own rebound and lifted the puck into the net as time was expiring to win the game.
Takacs stopped 35 of 39 shots in the victory while DeYoung turned aside 50 of 55. Click here for the box score.
The East Division finals will begin on Friday, May 6 at 7:30PM as the Titans will host the Rebels who defeated the Johnstown Tomahawks 4 – 3 in overtime in game five of their series.
The schedule will be announced later today.