It may be two weeks into the new year, but the New Jersey Titans kicked off 2018 with fireworks of their own in a wild 5-4 overtime victory against the Philadelphia Rebels on Monday at the Class of 1923 Arena.
Coming into the third period with a 3-1 lead, the Titans surrendered three unanswered goals and were on track to suffer a frustrating loss after a 26-day break. Kyler Head and Todd Goehring had other ideas, however. Head notched his second goal of the game with 2.8 seconds left in regulation while Goehring notched the OT winner.
The game started on a sour note, however, just over a minute into the first period. Brandon Stanley threw a vicious check in the Titans’ end on Zach Parrott, who was shaken up and later had to be helped off the ice. Kyler Head went to his defense and dropped the gloves with Stanley, picking up a four-minute double minor for roughing.
New Jersey responded minutes later by scoring the first goal on a breakaway tally from Tyler Antonucci. It started as a broken play at the Titans’ blue line, but Gavin Gulash picked up the loose puck before sending Antonucci off to the races for his 5th goal of the season.
Matthew Cameron made it 2-0 later in the period with a sensational goal. The RPI commit made a deke around Rebels defenseman Kolby Vegara before taking a shot that glanced off goaltender Ryan Keane and bounced into the net for his ninth goal of the season. With that goal, he has now scored in three straight games and has six goals in his last eight contests.
Kolby Vegara cut the Rebels’ deficit in half at 7:43 of the second period. The goal was initially disallowed, as the referee believed it was kicked in by Konur Peterson on the centering feed. It was ultimately ruled that the puck bounced off Matthew Cameron, and Vegara was credited with his fourth goal of the season.
Kyler Head reestablished the two-goal lead as he notched his first goal since returning to the team. With the Titans playing on the man-advantage, he connected on a give-and-go with Wade Novak and beat Keane on a one-timer from the low slot to make it a 3-1 game.
Five minutes into the third period, Andrew Bellant appeared to bring the Rebels back to within one, but the referees once again signaled no goal. Ryan Patrick appeared to knock the puck down with a high stick, and may have clipped Perrone’s mask as he was shaken up after the play. Moments later, Bellant entered the Titans’ zone and wired a wrist shot that beat Perrone–and counted–for his 10th of the season.
Alex Frye evened the score at 9:31 as he cleaned up a rebound in front of the net. Bellant took the initial shot and Perrone was unable to hold onto the puck, as Frye swept it in to make it a 3-3 contest.
The Rebels made it three unanswered goals as Auggie Moore stepped into the Titans’ end on the left side and tucked a shot over Perrone’s blocker. With 4:31 left in the game, the Titans not only relinquished a 3-1 lead, but now found themselves on the brink of defeat.
Perrone darted for the bench with just under a minute to go in regulation for the extra attacker. The Rebels nearly scored on the empty net, but the Titans broke through for one last rush with 15 seconds remaining. Philadelphia tried to clear the zone, but Eric Manoukian kept the puck in at the blue line. He found Goehring on the right side, as he fired a slapper on goal. Keane made the initial save, but the rebound slid right to Head on the opposite side as he slammed the puck in with 2.8 seconds remaining, ultimately forcing the game into overtime.
Just over two minutes into the extra frame, Novak sped across the ice to start a two-on-two rush. He made a drop pass to Goehring, who shot a laser beam of a wrist shot past Keane to seal the 5-4 victory.
The Titans have now won two straight games, both of which came against the Rebels. They start a home-and-home against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights with a road game on Friday followed by a contest in Middletown on Saturday.