Forward Cam Gendron scored three goals while goaltender Patrick Pugliese made several Grade A saves to help lead the Titans to a 6 – 4 win over the visiting Maryland Black Bears in a seesaw game. It was Gendron’s second hat trick of the season, and three of the Titans goals were shorthanded
“It wasn’t the prettiest of efforts but nevertheless I was happy that our group was able to find a way to win” stated head coach Craig Doremus.
Gendron got the Titans on the board just eighteen seconds into the game. After the Black Bears Hunter Brackett brough the puck out of his own zone, he tried to make a cross-ice pass, but it deflected and went to Danny Dimon at his own near side blue line and the assistant captain made a bounce pass off the boards up to Matthew Iasenza. As Iasenza gained the line, he made a behind the back pass to Gendron who skated in all alone on Maryland’s goalie Aaron Randazzo and beat him through the five hole to give the Titans an early 1 – 0 lead.
At 2:15 of the opening period, Josef Glamos was called for slashing to give the Black Bears the man advantage. With time winding down on the power play, Gavin Gulash scored the Titans first shorthanded goal of the game. After the Titans dumped the biscuit deep inside the Black Bears zone, Randazzo picked up the loose puck near his net and passed up into the neutral zone where it was intercepted by the newest Titan Joe Nagle. As Nagle skated to the far side half wall, he was hit from behind but was able to send the puck to the end boards where it was picked up by Gulash. The Red Bank, NJ native avoided a check and skated towards the net to the left of Randazzo. As Gulash reached the goal line, he took a sharp angle shot that beat Randazzo high, short side for his eighth goal of the season.
The Titans took a commanding three goal lead just forty-eight seconds into the middle stanza on Tyler Nasca’s sixth goal of the season. Gendron picked up the loose puck at the top of the slot and took a shot that was saved by Randazzo, but the rebound came out to Gendron but between his skates. Gendron circled to the near side half wall and passed the biscuit back to Brad Zona at the top of the circle. Zona passed it down low to Kyler Head who was behind the Black Bears net. Head skated up along boards and as he reached the blueline, he passed it over to Nasca at the top of the far side circle and Nasca one-timed it past Randazzo far side to make it a 3 – 0 game.
The Black Bears then scored their first of three straight goals to tie the game starting at 3:20 in the second period.
Dimon knocked down a pass at the top of his own zone and cleared it to the near side half wall towards Michael Outzen. Maryland’s Garrett Szydlowski knocked Outzen off the puck, and he passed it down low to Jackson Sterrett. As Sterrett reached the end boards he passed it out front to Aaron Swanson who took a wrister that beat Pugliese through the five hole to make it a 3 – 1 game.
Luke Mountain cut the Black Bears deficit in half at 7:55 of the second. Hampus Rydqvist picked up the loose puck at the top of the slot in his own end and he head manned it up to Reid Leibold who chipped it into the Titans zone. As the puck reached the bottom of the far side faceoff circle, it was picked up by Leibold who took a backhand shot towards the net that was blocked out front, but the rebound came back to Leibold who centered it out front and Mountain redirected it past Pugliese to make it a 3 – 2 game.
With 5:30 left in the second, Szydlowski tied the game at three. As Ole Andersen picked up the loose puck behind his own net, he came out and cut through the goalmouth, but Logan Kittleson stripped him of the puck and it redirected into the far side corner where it was picked up by Aaron Swanson. Swanson came up along the boards and made a pass back to the point to Mikhael Gonchar who took a shot that was deflected out front by Szydlowski past Pugliese for his eighth goal of the season.
Less than a minute later, the Titans regained the lead on Gendron’s second goal of the game. As the Black Bears looked for a line change, Shane Haviland picked up the loose puck at his own blueline and sent it back to Zona. Zona looked to set up and skated behind his own net and sent a bounce pass off the far side boards to Haviland at center ice. Haviland passed the puck up to Gendron. As Gendron gained the line, he cut towards the center of the slot and took and shot that beat Randazzo long side to make it 4 – 3 Titans.
The Black Bears tied it at 4:40 into the third on Jack Smiley’s seventh goal of the year. After Maryland won the draw just outside the Titans blueline, the puck would go into their zone where it was picked up by Smiley who took a shot that went high and wide of the net. Maryland’s Hunter Brackett picked up loose puck and centered it out front to Smiley who lifted it past a fallen Pugliese to make it a 4 – 4 game.
Mitch Machlitt was called for tripping with nine minutes remaining to give the Black Bears the man advantage. Eight seconds later Gendron completed his hat trick. After Maryland called a time out, Gendron won the ensuing faceoff deep inside his own zone and the puck would go to Andersen who was to the right of Gendron. Andersen came up along the far side boards and cut across the middle. As Andersen gained the line, he passed it over to Gendron on his right. Gendron skated to the slot went from his forehand to his backhand and lifted the puck past a sprawled out Randazzo to give the Titans a 5 – 4 lead.
Nick DeSantis was called for cross-checking 2:51 left in the game to put Maryland back on the power play. The Black Bears pulled Randazzo for the additional attacker but Chris Garbe short an empty net goal from center ice with 1:26 remaining in the game to close out the scoring.
“I thought our start was excellent but then we took our foot off the gas and Maryland really played well” stated Doremus. “We got some timely goaltending and Cam Gendron had a special effort to help carry us. We need to tighten up our structure and execution as we prepare for another game” concluded Doremus.
Pugliese stopped 36 of 40 shots while Randazzo turned aside 17 of 23. Click here for the box score.
The Titans go for the weekend sweep as the two teams meet again at 7:00pm at the Middletown Sports Complex.