The New Jersey Titans poured 52 shots on goal Friday night against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights, but it wasn’t enough as they fell by a score of 5-3 at Revolution Ice Center.
Michael Morrissey scored the go-ahead goal with less than five minutes remaining in the first game of a home-and-home between the two teams. With the loss, the Titans (16-13-2) are now 1-3-1 against the Knights this season.
Head coach Craig Doremus said it was more than running into a red-hot goaltender in David Tomeo, who stopped 49 of the 52 shots he faced for the Knights, and said that his team was unable to pull off a full 60-minute effort.
“I don’t think the shot clock was indicative of the entire game,” Doremus said. “We had 44 shots going into the third period, so I thought for 40 minutes we were really good, probably the better of the two teams. But in the third period, we got away from some of the stuff that made us successful through the first 40.”
The Titans outshot the Knights 20-13 in the first period, but it was Jack Olmstead who gave Wilkes-Barre a 1-0 lead at 13:58. Tyrone Bronte had the puck in the offensive zone on the right side and slipped a pass to a cutting Olmstead, as he slid the puck under Perrone for his team-leading 15th goal of the season.
Tomeo kept the Titans off the board in the first with several key saves. Chris Garbe had the best chance that period with a pair of shots just outside the crease, but Tomeo was able to stop both of them. Kyle Jeffers also had a great scoring chance on a breakaway but was turned away on a pad save.
Olmstead gave Wilkes-Barre a 2-0 lead at 3:13 of the second period. He tried to stuff in his own rebound but the puck glided along the goal line. He then skated around the net, regained possession, and cashed in on a turnaround shot to pick up his second goal of the game.
New Jersey was undeterred, as they responded by scoring two goals of their own before the end of the period. Kyler Head notched his third goal in two games by ripping a slap shot from the right faceoff circle for a power-play tally.
Todd Goehring tied the score by slamming home a one-timer in the low slot. The play started as Brandon Perrone made a stretch pass to send Andrew Husted on a breakaway, but Tomeo made the save. Tate Singleton picked up the rebound and found Goehring, as he connected for his 6th of the season.
Reed Robinson gave the Knights a 3-2 lead midway through the third period as he found the puck in the low slot on a broken play.
Three minutes later, the Titans went on the power play, where Tate Singelton fired a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle to even the score. The play was set up by Eric Manoukian, who made a slick backhand pass to the Army commit.
The power play has been a focal point for the team as of late, according to Doremus. They scored on the man advantage twice, but could not convert on a four-minute double minor at the end of the second period when Tyler Antonucci was cut by a high stick. Overall, Doremus said there was an improvement in his special teams unit.
“We had two power-play goals, and I think on most nights, you would take it,” he said. “You have the opportunity there to really put a firm grip on the game and take control of it, but the power play comes up short on a four-minute man advantage.”
Singleton’s goal marked the second time in the game that New Jersey evened the score. The Knights responded, however, with two late goals to put themselves ahead once and for all. Morrissey found a loose puck on a goal mouth scramble and put the Knights up 4-3 with 4:15 left in the third. When Perrone was pulled for the extra attacker, Robinson sealed the win for the Knights with an empty netter and his second goal of the game.
The loss gives the Titans a road record of 9-11-2. Fortunately, five of its next six games will take place at Middletown Sports Complex, including the second end of the home-and-home tonight at 7:30 against the Knights.