Kyle Jeffers had two goals and two assists to help lead the visiting New Jersey Titans to a 7 – 4 win over the Maryland Black Bears last night at Piney Orchard Arena. The victory enabled to the Titans to split the weekend series between the teams. The win was New Jersey’s nineteenth of the season.
Kyler Head and Jake LaRusso each had a goal and an assist while Mitch Machlitt had two assists.
Maryland took an early lead just twenty-five seconds into the game on Hampus Rydqvist’s fifth goal of the season. Jackson Sterrett brought the puck into the Titans zone along the near side boards. As he gained the line, he left a drop pass for a trailing Andrew Remer. As Remer got down low, he took a shot that Arseni Sergeev made a left pad save on, but the rebound came right out to Rydqvist who buried it into the open net.
Jeffers scored his first goal of the game with 1:18 left in the opening period to knot the score at one. As Jeffers penalty for slashing was about to expire, Cade Penney picked up the loose puck in his zone and passed it over to Tyler Nasca at his own near side faceoff circle. Nasca sent a long bounce pass off the boards up to Machlitt. As Machlitt gained the line he passed the puck up to Jeffers who had just stepped onto the ice. Jeffers took a wrist shot from the circle that beat Black Bears goalie Andrew Takacs long side.
The Black Bears would take their second lead of the game at 5:03 into the middle stanza. After Maryland won the draw in deep inside their own zone, the puck came out to forward Filip Jakobsson who sent the puck up the ice and into the Titans zone where it was picked up by Sergeev to the right of his net. Sergeev went to play the puck and wrap it around the end boards but it was intercepted by Sterrett behind the goal line. Sterrett simply threw the puck on net and but it hit Sergeev’s stick and into the net for his eleventh goal of the season.
The Titans then took control of the game by scoring five unanswered goals, four of them in the second period.
At 6:20 into the second, LaRusso scored his fourth goal of the year to tie the game at two. As the Black Bears cleared the puck deep inside the Titans zone, it was picked up by Penney who skated towards the near side boards and sent a cross-ice pass to Head at his own blue line. Head sent a long bounce pass off the boards that appeared to be icing but Cam Gendron simply out hustled Logan Kons for the puck. As Gendron got to the end boards, he sent a backhanded pass towards the net and LaRusso one-timed it passed Takacs short side.
Twenty-four seconds later David Parker scored his first North American Hockey League goal. After the ensuing draw that went into the Black Bears zone, Maryland tried to clear the puck up along the near side boards, but it was intercepted by Gavin Gulash at the point. The Robert Morris University commit took a long shot that was saved by Takacs and the puck came out along the far side circle to Jeffers who immediately sent a pass back to Penney at the point. Penney one-timed it and Takacs made the save but the deep rebound came out to Parker who buried it past Takacs to give the Titans a 3 – 2 lead.
With 5:16 left in the second, Head would double the Titans lead. After the Titans won the draw deep inside their own zone, Mac Wiseman wrapped the puck around the end board and up along the far side boards where it was picked up by LaRusso at the top of the circle in the offensive zone. LaRusso passed the puck out front to Head who went to the net on his backhand and he put it past Takacs to give the Titans a 4 – 2 lead.
With 1:28 remaining in the period, Michael Outzen made it 5 – 2 Titans. Machlitt picked up the loose puck just outside the Black Bears blueline. As Machlitt entered the offensive zone, he made a beautiful move around Maryland’s Logan Kittleson by bringing the puck through his own legs onto his backhand then onto his forehand as he went to the net and took a shot that was saved by Takacs but Outzen knocked in the rebound for his ninth goal of the season.
With Maryland’s Brayden Stannard and Rydqvist called for penalties, the Titans were on a 5-on-3. As time was winding down on the two-man advantage, the puck went back to Penney at the point who sent it over to Mac Wiseman on his left. Wiseman passed it down low to Jeffers who sent a return pass back to Wiseman and the Haymarket, VA native took a clapper that beat Cooper Black short side to make it a 6 – 2 Titans lead.
The Black Bears would make it 6 – 3 on an almost end-to end goal by Reid Leibold at 5:15 in the third. Then midway through the third Aden Bruich stuffed in a goal to make it 6 – 4 but Jeffers scored an empty net goal with a second remaining to close out the scoring.
Sergeev stopped 35 of 39 shots while Takacs and Black combined to turn aside 32 of 39. Click here for the box score.
The Titans now will travel to Johnstown next weekend to play two very important games against the Tomahawks.