Chris Garbe scored three goals, including two in the first period, to help lead the New Jersey Titans to a 7 – 2 victory over the visiting Maryland Black Bears to complete a weekend sweep between the teams.
It was Garbe’s first hat trick of the season and the Titans second one in two games.
The Titans scored early and often in the first period and it all started at 1: 39 into the opening period on Tyler Nasca’s seventh goal of the season. After a shot was blocked out in-front of the Titans net, captain Brody Medeiros picked up the loose puck along the far side half wall and he passed it up to Nick DeSantis who sent a backhand pass to Josef Glamos. As Glamos enter the neutral zone he passed it up and over to a breaking Shane Haviland along the far side boards. As Haviland gained the line, he made a cross-ice pass over to Nasca and the defenseman took a wrist shot from the top of the circle that beat Black Bears goalie Cooper Black to give the Titans a 1 – 0 lead.
Less than a minute and a half later, the Titans doubled their lead on Garbe’s first goal of the game. After Garbe won the draw deep inside the Black Bears zone, the puck went to Matt Cameron who was to the left of Garbe. As Cameron circled to the top of the near side faceoff circle, he went to pass the puck over to Brad Zona but it was deflected and bounced off the far side boards where Zona ultimately picked it up at the bottom of the faceoff circle. Zona threw a pass on net that was saved by Black but Garbe tucked in the rebound past the goalie to make it 2 – 0.
Matthew Iasenza made it 3 – 0 with 7:05 remaining in the first period. After Iasenza won the draw deep inside his own zone, the puck went back to Zona who wrapped it around the end boards and up to the far side half wall to Friday night’s star of the game Cam Gendron. Gendron sent a bounce pass off the boards to Iasenza who skated through center ice and into the Black Bears zone. As Iasenza was driving towards the net, he passed it off to Kyler Head on his right who immediately sent it back to Zona at the point. Zona took a wrist shot that was saved by Black but Gendron, who was to the left of Black, circled around the net and passed it out front to Iasenza and he buried it into the open net for his ninth goal of the season.
Garbe scored his second goal with 2:21 left in the first. With the puck inside the Titans zone, Maryland’s Aiden McDowell took a shot from the top of near side point that was blocked out in front and picked up by Gavin Gulash. As Gulash reached his own blue line, he head manned the puck to Garbe who skated in all alone on Black and Garbe beat him far side to give the Titans a 4 – 0 lead.
Maryland got on the board at 4:05 in the second period on Jackson Sterrett’s seventeenth goal of the season. The Black Bears entered the offensive zone on a three-on-two rush. As Aaron Swanson gained the line, he passed the puck over to Sterrett on his right. Sterrett took a shot that was saved by Titans goaltender Patrick Pugliese but Sterrett picked up the rebound and sent it around the end boards and up along the near side half wall to Jack Hillman. Hillman took a shot that went wide but the puck took a strange bounce off the end boards and right to Sterrett who buried it past Pugliese to make it 4 – 1.
Three and a half minutes later, Swanson cut the Black Bears deficit in half. With the puck in the Titans zone along the far side boards, Medeiros sent a high clearing pass off the glass, but it was kept in the zone at the point by Garrett Szydlowski who passed it up to Swanson. At the top of the faceoff circle, Swanson circled and passed it back to Szydlowski on his right. Szydlowski made a cross-ice pass but it bounced off the near side boards where it picked up by Tim Organ. Organ lobbed a shot on net that was redirected out front by Swanson and past Pugliese for his thirteenth goal of the season.
Michael Outzen scored with 2:23 left in the middle stanza to make it 5 – 2. DeSantis picked up the loose puck at the top of his own slot and passed it over to Outzen. The Highlands Ranch, CO native skated through center ice and into the offensive zone. As Outzen reached the top of the far side faceoff circle, he curled and took a long wrist shot that found its way through a screen and past Aaron Randazzo, who replaced Black between the pipes, for his sixteenth goal of the season.
Head scored a power play goal with six seconds remaining in the middle stanza and Garbe finished his hat trick with thirty-eight seconds remaining in the game to close out the scoring.
Pugliese stopped 29 of 31 shots while Maryland’s goaltender combined to stop 22 of 29. Click here for the box score.
The Titans next game will be on Wednesday, February 12 against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights at the Middletown Sports Complex. Puck drop is 7:35pm.