Gavin Gulash scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner, in the New Jersey Titans’ 5-3 victory over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knight on Saturday night at Middletown Sports Complex.
Shane Haviland, Josef Glamos and Bryce Witman also scored while Brandon Perrone made 32 saves to improve the Titans’ record to 21-18-0. It was also the first back-to-back New Jersey won since Nov. 3-4, when they faced the Northeast Generals.
“Points are hard to come by in our division right now since everyone is so tight and battling for a playoff position. Any time you’re able to come up with a four point weekend, it essentially turns into an eight-point weekend with the head-to-head battles,” said Titans head coach Craig Doremus. “Really happy for our guys to be rewarded, I know it’s been a monkey on their back, so hopefully they can enjoy their off-day before we get back to work on Monday.”
The Knights had eight of the first 10 shots, including a couple of quality scoring chances on an early power play. Perrone stopped Jake Fuss from point-blank range, then made a glove save on a follow-up shot from Sacha Guillemain. The Titans responded with a barrage of shots of their own, though Zach Stejskal was equal to the task and kept New Jersey off the board.
New Jersey went on the power play in the final minute of the period, but it was Adrian Danchenko who scored a shorthanded goal to give his team a 1-0 lead. He forced a turnover at the blue line, and ripped a shot glove-side on a breakaway to beat Perrone for his eighth goal of the year.
Shane Haviland knotted the score 9:26 into the second period when he took a sharp-angle shot on Stejskal, picked up the rebound and wrapped the puck around to the far post. Josef Glamos gave the Titans a 2-1 lead at 14:08 when he redirected a point-shot from Kyle Jeffers, and it went upstairs for his eighth goal of the season. Doremus spoke about the line combination of Haviland, Glamos and Chris Garbe and the impact they had on the game.
“Those guys stepped up. We don’t want to pigeon-hole anybody into any specific roles, it’s where you are that given night. Those guys came out today and earned every single shift and were rewarded with the ice time,” he said. “They carried us for at least 75-80 percent of that game, as we dragged our feet they were buzzing and created chaos while finding the back of the net.”
The Knights evened the score at two when Anthony Mastromonica’s shot left a juicy rebound for Fuss to clean up at 17:53. It was his third goal in the back-to-back against the Titans and sixth of the season.
The Titans came back in front with a power-play goal at 5:59, when Ryan Naumovski slipped a pass to Gulash at the left faceoff dot where ripped a one-timer past Stejskal’s glove for his 14th goal of the year. Evan Orr responded one minute and 22 seconds later on a sharp-angle shot from the corner. The puck glanced off Perrone’s glove and into the net, making it a 3-3 game.
As time was winding down, Danny Dimon pounced on a loose puck and moved it to Gulash to start a two-on-one rush. Gulash held onto the puck and fired a shot under Stejskal’s blocker for his second goal of the night while giving the Titans a 4-3 lead. Bryce Witman sealed the game with an empty-net goal at 19:19.
The Red Bank, NJ native spoke after the game about his two-goal performance as well as the team finally stringing together consecutive wins.
“I’ve been snake-bitten a little bit, I haven’t been producing as much as I’ve been hoping to but it’s nice to get back on the score sheet,” Gulash said. “The sweep is something we’ve been striving for since November, but I think it’s a big stepping stone for our group. I think we’ve been struggling lately with settling for splits but it’s awesome that we can finally pull out a sweep.”
The Titans will try to maintain its upward momentum with two games against the Maryland Black Bears on Friday and Saturday. It will be their first time visiting Piney Orchard Arena since opening weekend, and puck drop for both games are scheduled for 7:45 p.m.
Photo Credit: Pete MacDonald (@PMacDonald51)