Jake LaRusso scored two goals and Zach Nazzarett had two assists to help lead the visiting New Jersey Titans to a 5 – 1 win over the Maine Nordiques and complete a weekend sweep between the teams. The win moved the Titans within six points behind the second place Nordiques with two games in hand.
Stephen Willey got the Titans on the board first at 5:14 into the opening period. Caleb Price made a nice toe drag move around a Maine defender just in the slot and sent a pass to Nazzarett at the bottom of the near side faceoff circle. Nazzarett sent the puck back to Matthew Iasenza who skated up towards the goal line and sent a return pass to Nazzarett who was to the left of Nordiques goaltender Avery Sturtz. Nazzarett took a sharp angle shot that was saved by Sturtz but the rebound came right out to a wide-open Willey in the slot, and he buried it into the empty net for his ninth goal of the season.
The Titans doubled their lead with 8:41 remaining in opening period on LaRusso’s first goal of the evening. Jack Karlsson set up the play from the top of his own blueline and sent a pass up to Cade Penney at center ice. As Penney reached the Maine blueline he passed it over to Blake Humphrey on his right and Humphrey made a nice give and go with Penney along the far side boards. As Penney reached the half wall, he passed the puck to Tommy Bannister in slot and Bannister immediately made a drop pass between his legs to a trailing LaRusso who took a wrist shot that beat Sturtz high glove side.
Nick Seitz gave the Titans a three-goal lead at 1:55 into the second period. After Christian Stoever made a save, the rebound came out Price in the slot and he passed it over to Anthony Calafiore at the far side half wall. Calafiore head manned the puck to Seitz breaking out of the zone and he passed to Nazzarrett who was waiting at the Nordiques near side blueline. As Nazzarett gained the line, he made a picture-perfect cross-ice, backdoor pass to Seitz who was to the right of Sturtz and Seitz redirected the puck into the back of the net for his sixteenth goal of the season.
With Brad Zona already in the box for hooking, LaRusso was called for slashing with 4:56 left in the second period to give the Nordiques the 5-on-3 advantage. Fifteen seconds later Maine’s Tristan Fasig broke Stoever’s shutout bid. Luke Antonacci set up the play at the top of the point and he sent a pass over to Cooper Swift at the top of the far side faceoff circle. Swift passed it down low to Cannon Green who was to the left of Stoever. Green made a centering pass out front to Fasig who immediately redirected the puck past Stoever to make it a 3 – 1 game.
The Titans regained their three-goal lead just eleven seconds into the third period on LaRusso’s second goal of the game. After the period’s opening faceoff was won by Humphrey, the puck went back to Zona who passed it over to Karlsson at the top of his own near side blueline. Karlsson sent the biscuit up to Bannister who was waiting at the Maine line. As Bannister gained the line, he passed the puck down the Humphrey who was to the right of the cage. Humphrey made a centering pass out front and LaRusso made it a 4 – 1 game.
LaRusso’s second goal of the evening was his fourth in two games and gave him a total of six points on the weekend against Maine.
Jack Ring scored with 9:33 left in the game to close out the scoring.
Stoever, who made several grade A saves throughout the game, stopped 33 of 34 shots while Sturtz turned aside 19 of 24. Click here for the box score.
The Titans will travel to Johnstown next weekend for a two-game series against the East Division leading Tomahawks.