The New Jersey Titans trimmed its North American Hockey League (NAHL) roster down to 25 players on Thursday, and kept a local flavor in the mix.
Five of the club’s rostered players have ties to the Garden State, including four Shore Conference alumni, as Brad Becker (Howell), Anthony Cusanelli (CBA), Mike Gelatt (St. John Vianney), and Greg Malafronte (CBA) will skate in front of High Bridge, NJ goaltender Josh Creelman, who graduated from Pingry High School in 2014.
The Titans made Cusanelli a ninth round selection (160th overall) this past June during the NAHL draft following a 2014-15 campaign in which he led the North American Prospect Hockey League (the NAPHL is a feeder league for the NAHL) in regular season scoring with 40 points on 22 goals and 18 assists in 23 games.
New Jersey chose Malafronte in the 13th round (195th overall) after a 30-point NAPHL campaign for the Titans affiliate, in which he delivered 16 goals and 14 assists in 24 games.
Gelatt was offered a tendered contract by the Soo Eagles earlier this year, before the franchise relocated to Middletown and rebranded as a Titans affiliate. The Middletown native was a 35-point scorer for the NAPHL Titans in 2014-15, notching 12 goals and 23 assists in 24 games.
Becker was a Titans Main Camp invitee in August, and used his grinder-type style of play catch the eye of Titans coach Rich McKenna, a former Don Bosco Prep standout. Becker recorded 14 points on six goals and eight assists in 18 games a season ago with the NAPHL Titans.
The Titans will carry six players from the aforementioned Soo Eagles franchise including forwards Raymond Brice, Bruno Birzitis, and Keegan Miller, and defensemen Pat Gazzillo, Jake Hamilton and Dan Weaver.
Brizitis, a native of Latvia, is one of three internationally born players included on the roster, as Russian defenseman Daniil Kharinov and Hiroshima, Japan denizen Seiya Hayata will suit up for the Titans.
Hayata has represented Japan at the international level and tallied 17 points in 39 games for the Breezy Point North Stars of the NA3HL a season ago.
Kharinov played for the Richmond Generals of the United States Premier Hockey League last year and delivered seven points from the blue line in 40 games.
Joining Creelman in the crease will be Kevin Gollmer, a Flourtown, PA native who started 45 games a season ago for the Cumberland Grads of Central Canada Hockey League. Creelman will enter the forthcoming 2015-16 season with NAHL experience, as he made 13 starts last year for the Kenai River Black Bears.
“I am really excited about the mix of players we have in our club,” McKenna said. “We have players with junior experience, players who have won championships and players who have been successful in leagues below us.”
“We have been hard at work the last two weeks developing habits and our identity so the people of New Jersey can see a hard working team with size, skill, and grittiness.”
The Titans will open its inaugural season on Sept. 18 at Middletown Ice World, when the Aston Rebels will come to town for a 7 p.m. puck drop.
Middletown Mayor Stephanie C. Murray will drop the ceremonial first puck and the first 500 fans will receive a magnetic season schedule, courtesy of MJCorp.
Saturday September 19th TitansFest continues with an outdoor event fun for the whole family at Middletown Ice World Arena. Enjoy food, drinks, games, live music and meet your Titans coaching staff and players before puck drops. The event will last from 3:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.
For tickets, contact a Titans ticket representative at 888-997-4625.
Full Titans Roster Below:
Forwards: #2 Christopher Murphy, #7 Michael Egan, #9 Joseph Schuler, #10 Raymond Brice, #11 Joe Zottola, #13 Brad Becker, #14 Greg Malafronte, #16 Anthony Cusanelli, #18 Bruno Birzitis, #19 Mike Gelatt, #20 Jesse Farabee, #21 Keegan Miller, #22 Garrett Hallford, #26 Andrew Durham
Defensemen: #3 Joe Nathe, #4 Jake Hamilton, #5 Pat Gazzillo, #6 Dakota Ford, #8 Seyia Hayata, #12 Blake Terry, #17 Davis Sebald, #24 Daniil Kharinov.
Goalies: #1 Kevin Gollmer, #30 Josh Creelman