New Jersey weathered a storm, but escaped their first game of the regular season with a 7-6 overtime victory over the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks on Friday night.
The opening game of the season saw the teams deadlocked for the first 12 minutes of the first period, until Ethan Wongus took a pass from Arhip Sidarovich and snapped a shot past the blocker of Danbury goaltender Ethan Farrow. Danbury would answer back minutes later, but Ryan Novo slid a puck past a sprawled out Farrow to send the Titans into the locker room for the first intermission with a 2-1 lead.
The Titans continued to stretch their lead in the second, with goals from Ryan Friedman, Dominick Rivelli, and Leo Schwartz. Dominik Bartecko got the primary assist on the first two of the period, setting up Friedman on a 3-on-1, and Rivelli on a 2-on-1. Schwartz’s goal came with a laser of a wrist shot to the top corner. Danbury again answered before the end of the period, and New Jersey was poised to head to the second intermission with smiles on their faces.
However, the good feelings ended before the period. On the forecheck, Ethan Wongus crashed head first into the boards and was on the ice for an extended period of time. His injury would see him sent to the hospital, and his teammates’ were worried about their friend’s health. Wongus would be released later in the night after a series of scans, and he rejoined the team in the morning.
New Jersey understandably came out flat to begin the third, and Danbury converted twice to cut their deficit to one. Kristophers Krumins scored from the slot to make it 6-4, but that would prove not to be enough. Two goals in the final 5:01 of the game knotted it once again, and the teams went into overtime tied at 6.
With 4.1 seconds remaining in regulation, Dominik Bartecko was hauled down with open ice in front of him, and the Titans began the extra frame with a 4 on 3 advantage. They would not find the back of the net with the man advantage, but they controlled the puck and built momentum. After the penalty expired, Johnny McMahon found himself with a clear lane to the net, and he rifled a shot glove side to secure the victory for New Jersey.
With the win, New Jersey exorcised the demons of last year, where they began the season 0-6. Zak Brice made 24 saves to record his first win of the year. Neither team will have long to dwell on the game, as they will finish their two game set today, September 9th, with a 7:00pm rematch at the Danbury Arena. The game will be available on NAHLtv, with Zak McGinniss bringing you all the action on the away feed.
The New Jersey Titans, proud members of the North American Hockey League, are entering their ninth season at the Middletown Sports Complex in Middletown, NJ. The 2022 Robertson Cup National Champions, the Titans have made the playoffs in every season since their founding in 2015. Season ticket packages will be available soon, in time for the 2023-24 season home opener versus Rochester on September 29th. Follow the New Jersey Titans on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok today!