The New Jersey Titans’ roster was bolstered with two new players during their back-to-back against the Generals over the weekend with the arrival of forwards Connor Merrill and Shane Haviland.
Merrill is a native of Nashville, Tenn. and started out the 2018-19 season with the Langley Rivermen of the British Columbia Hockey League. Haviland is from Wall, NJ and started the year with the Springfield Jr. Blues. Titans head coach Craig Doremus spoke about both players and what their arrival means for the team.
“I thought both guys added to our forward group. In this league to be successful and make a deep run, you need a good crop of players up and down your lineup, and especially as you get towards the playoffs,” Doremus said. “They add to our depth up front and compliment a group that we have in place already.”
In the Titans’ 7-2 win on Saturday, Merrill picked up an assist on a goal by Thomas Lacombe. He spoke about his debut and the added bonus of earning his first point with the team.
“It was great to get on the score sheet in my first game as a Titan. It was a good game all around, starting out with a 7-2 win and sweeping the weekend, so it’s a great start to my Titan career,” said the 19-year-old forward.
Merrill said his transition to the locker room has been seamless, already taking part in team lunches and other activities off the ice. He also spoke about the change of style between the BCHL and the NAHL.
“I’ve noticed that the NAHL is a little more bump and grind, a lot of big bodies out there. As a smaller guy, I’ve got to keep my head up a little more, I took a couple of hits from behind in the first game so it woke me up a little bit,” he said.
Haviland, meanwhile, is no stranger to the NAHL. Last season, he recorded six goals and three assists in 44 games with the Jr. Blues. He recorded one assist in nine more games this year before coming to the Titans. He spoke about the change in scenery when coming to Middletown.
“I was really blown away by the professionalism and the culture that Craig and everyone in his staff has put in to this team. It was a great weekend picking up the sweep against Northeast, the guys in the locker room have been awesome and I’ve enjoyed my time here immensely so far,” Haviland said.
As a New Jersey native, Haviland also expressed his excitement in returning home to play hockey in the Garden State
“It was fun living away, but my heart is always with New Jersey, so it’s nice to be back now playing with the Titans.”
Both Merrill and Haviland will look to help the Titans’ continue its current hot streak. The team has won four straight and eight of its last nine games. Today they will face the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights at the Revolution Ice Centre at 3:00 p.m. and will return to Middletown for the second end of a home-and-home tomorrow night.