Last week in a game against the Philadelphia Rebels, the Titans were on a power play as Todd Goehring took the puck and cut to the middle of the ice. With defenders bearing down on him, he slid the puck right to his linemate, Nick Boyagian, who ripped a one-timer past the goaltender and into the back of the net.
The chemistry between the two players is a familiar sight for the team. Goehring and Boyagian–who are both in their last year of junior eligibility–are in their second season with the New Jersey Titans. Both players are committed to play for Sacred Heart University next year, and both of them are scoring at nearly a point-per-game pace.
“You have two guys that can put the puck in the net with regularity,” head coach Craig Doremus said about Boyagian and Goehring. “They both work well together, have great shots and can create a lot of offense for us which can be exciting to watch.”
Boyagian, who scored 41 points in 58 games last season, currently has seven goals and eight assists in 16 games. Scoring at nearly a point-per-game pace, increased production was among several of the goals he set for himself prior to his second season in New Jersey.
“In the summer, one of my main goals was to gain 10 or 15 pounds and become stronger,” the East Greenbush, N.Y. native said. “An individual goal for me is to become a point-per-game player, but also for me, I want to help my linemates and make them better players day in and day out.”
Doremus, in his second year as the Titans’ coach, set his own expectations for the 20-year-old forward.
“We wanted Nick to be one of our main go-to guys both on and off the ice. Obviously having that year of experience and having a relatively good year offensively, we wanted him to be a featured guy on our offensive attack and I think he’s done so.”
The Titans got an additional boost up front when Goehring returned to New Jersey following a brief stint with the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League. In 47 games with the Titans last year, the Wayside, N.J. native recorded 13 goals and 29 assists. In his first nine games with the Titans this season, he has three goals and five assists.
Now in his final year of junior hockey, Goehring said he has something to prove after two years of going from the USHL back to the Titans.
“I wasn’t really given the opportunity that I thought I deserved out (in the USHL) and it is what it is, but I’ve got to come back here and show them that I can play and that I can put up numbers and be the player that I am,” Goehring said.
Doremus said Goehring does not have anything to prove to the Titans, but he also said the best is yet to come for the 20-year-old forward.
“We just need to get him to finish a couple times here. He’s been a little snake-bitten, had some tough puck luck as far as missing opportunities that Todd normally puts home, but I think his game is coming along,” he said.
Goehring’s return also means that he and Boyagian get another opportunity to work with each other. Last year, the two forwards were linemates for a portion of the season.
“We were on a line together for 10 or 15 games,” Boyagian said of last season. “So now the chemistry just clicked automatically. We’re going to the same school next year, so I guess it was just bound to be.”
This year, the two Sacred Heart commits are on the same power play unit and have set each other up for four goals on the man advantage.
“He’s a lefty, I’m a righty, so it works well on the rush and on our power play spots coincide pretty well,” Goehring said about working with Boyagian. “We both have good shots and good vision so we’re able to create a lot of offense together.”
Boyagian and Goehring both said that they keep in touch with former Titan Jordan Kaplan. Last season, Kaplan led the Titans with 56 points in 52 games, and is now in his first season with the Sacred Heart Pioneers.
“It’s been three years since I’ve been looking forward to going to college, and talking to Kaplan every day, hearing about the work he puts in there,” Boyagian said. “It’s a bit nerve racking, but I also can’t wait to go there.”
Goehring mentioned that he speaks with Kaplan, they’ll compare the pace of the NCAA game with the level of play in the NAHL.
In the meantime, Goehring and Boyagian will continue to work together and try to get the Titans to the top of the East Division. New Jersey is currently fourth in the division with a record of 10-7-2. They have two home games this weekend against the Northeast Generals, who are currently third in the division with a 15-10-0 record.
With the first game tonight at 7 p.m., Doremus said he looks forward to seeing Boyagian and Goehring continue to work their magic on the ice.
“Our staff spoke to both of them at the start of the season about what we expected of them as far as being go-to guys for us,” he said. “And I think both of them have responded really well to that.”