Kyler Head had a goal and an assist while Mitch Machlitt had three primary assists to help lead the New Jersey Titans to a 5 – 3 win over the visiting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights last night at the Middletown Sports Complex.
It was the Titans fourth straight victory and the win gave them a seven-point lead over the second place Johnstown Tomahawks in the East Division’s standings.
Cam Gendron started the scoring just 1:58 into the second period to give the Titans an early 1 – 0 lead. Cade Penney picked up the loose puck behind his own goal line and passed it up to Ole Andersen who moved it onto Kyle Jeffers at the top of his blue line. As Jeffers entered the neutral zone, he passed it over to Head on his left. Head gained a burst of speed and went around his defender and into the neutral zone. As Head reach the near side faceoff dot, he made a nice cross-ice pass to Gendron who redirected the back-door pass behind Knights netminder Alex Contey for his fifteenth goal of the year.
Thirty-four seconds later the Knights’ Anthony Mastromonica tied the game. WBS’ Christopher Rubenach kept the puck in Titans zone at the top of the near side point and passed it up to Sutton McDonald along the boards. As McDonald skated to the bottom of the faceoff circle, he made a centering pass out front that Mastromonica redirected past Titans goaltender Patrick Pugliese for his tenth goal of the season.
With 9:03 left in the opening period, the Knights’ Jordan Strand was called for holding to give New Jersey the man advantage. Twenty-four seconds later Head gave the Titans a 2 – 1 lead. As the Knights tried to clear the zone, the puck was kept in by Andersen at the top of the point. Andersen passed it down low to Machlitt who was to the left of Contey at the goal line. Machlitt made a behind the back pass out front to Head who wristed the puck past Contey for his fifteenth goal of the season.
Knights veteran Tyrone Bronte tied the game at two with 2:25 left in the second period. After Artur Turansky won the draw deep inside the Titans zone, the puck went back to the Strand at the near side point. Strand took a long wrist shot that was redirected out front and past Pugliese for his eight goal of the season.
Exactly a minute later the Titians regained the lead for good. Brad Zona picked up the loose puck at the top of the far side faceoff circle and pass it up to Machlitt at center ice and he immediately passed it over to Matthew Iasenza on his right. Iasenza returned the biscuit to Machlitt who entered the offensive zone. As Machlitt reached the top of the faceoff circle he passed it over to Iasenza on his right and the speedy forward beat Contey short side to make it 3 – 2.
At 2:13 into the third, captain Brody Medeiros would double the Titans lead. Medeiros picked up the loose puck at the top of his own slot and he passed it up to Iasenza at center ice. Iasenza chipped the puck into the offensive zone where it was picked up by Michael Outzen. The Highlands Ranch, CO native passed it over to a breaking Machlitt on his left. Machlitt fed the puck through the goal mouth and Medeiros redirected the backdoor pass behind Conety for his fifth goal of the season.
After Danny Dimon took a shot on goal that was blocked out front, he picked up his own rebound at the near side half wall. Dimon passed it Gavin Gulash in the slot. Gulash moved from his backhand to his forehand and beat Conety high glove side for his ninth goal of the season to give the Titans a 5 – 2 lead.
The Knights’ Lincoln Hatten scored with 1:16 remaining in the game to close out the score. Pugliese turned aside 27 of 30 shots while Conety stopped 21 of 26. Click here for the box score.
“Overall I thought we play pretty well” stated Titans head coach Craig Doremus. “Not our cleanest game but we found a way to get ot the net and create some offense. Out PK (penalty kill) stepped up big tonight and gave us a chance. We need to continue to improve as we prepare for a big weekend with the Generals coming to Middletown this weekend concluded Doremus.
The Titans will have a lite practice today and begin preparing for this weekend’s series against the visiting Northeast Generals.