Jake LaRusso scored two goals, but it wasn’t enough as the New Jersey Titans fell to the visiting Johnstown Tomahawks 3 – 2 in a shootout last night at the Middletown Sports Complex. It was fourth time out of five games this season that the Titans have lost in a shootout. It also was the Titans third consecutive loss to Johnstown.
The Tomahawks opened the scoring with 2:19 remaining in the first period. With Johnstown applying pressure in the offensive zone, the Tomahawks Holt Oliphant knocked the Titans Caleb Price off the puck in the near side corner and Oliphant made a centering pass out front to Max Neill. Neill took shot that went wide of the Titans net, but it was picked up by Jared Gerger who was to the left of Titans goalie Berk Berkeliev. Gerger took a backhanded, sharp angle shot from the goal line that beat Berkeliev short side to give Johnston a 1 – 0 lead.
Just 4:26 into the second period LaRusso scored his first goal of the game. Levente Keresztes picked up the loose puck at the top of his own near side faceoff circle and went to passed it up to Connor Pelc at the Johnstown blueline. As the puck bounced off a Johnstown’s defenseman’s stick it was picked up by a trailing LaRusso along the boards. As he gained the line, LaRusso rushed towards the net and took a wrist shot that beat Tomahawks goalie Peyton Grainer long side to tie the game at one.
Brendan Clark gave the Tomahawks the lead at 5:11 in the third period. Clark picked up the loose puck in the Titans near side corner and passed it back to David Paluch at the point. Paluch took a shot on net that was redirected out front by Johnstown’s Jay Ahearn and saved by Berkeliev but the rebound came out to Clark who made a turnaround move and took a shot that was saved by Berkeliev but it trickled past the Titans netminder and into the net to make it a 2 – 1 game.
Almost two minutes later LaRusso tied the game at two. LaRusso intercepted a Johnstown pass at center ice and entered the offensive zone along the near side boards. As LaRusso reached the bottom of the faceoff circle, he took a sharp angle shot that beat Grainer short side for his third goal of the season.
After regulation ended tied at two and the score remained tied after the five minute overtime, it went to a shootout in which Johnstown’s Andrew Murphy was the lone goal scorer to give the Tomahawks the 3 – 2 win.
Berkeliev stopped 40 of 42 shots while Grainer turned aside 30 of 32. Click here for the box score.
The Titans will travel to Maryland to play a two-game series against the Black Bears beginning on Friday.