Jamestown’s Jak Vaarwerk scored a natural hat trick to help lead the visiting Rebels to a 6- 2 victory over the Titans to take game one of this best-of-five East Division final series.
The third seed Rebels opened the scoring at 7:29 of the first period on Ryan Waltman’s fourth goal of the playoffs. After Jamestown’s goalie Nolan Suggs made a save, the puck went into the far side corner where it was picked up by Nathan Jurrens who passed it up to Vaarwerk at the top of the Rebels blueline. As Vaarwerk tried to exit his own zone, the puck was knocked off his stick by Stephen Willey, but the biscuit went right to Waltman who skated through center ice and all alone on Titans netminder Andrew Takacs and Waltman went from his backhand to his forehand and slid the puck through Takacs’ legs to make it a 1 – 0 game.
A minute later former Titan Noah Szretter doubled the Rebels lead. Jamestown’s Ethan Janda picked up the loose puck in the Titans far side corner and skated up towards the half wall where he passed the biscuit through is legs to Conor Sedlak. Sedlak skated behind and around the Titans net, and he made a pass from the slot back to Szretter at the point. Szretter took a wrist shot that founds its way through a screen and past Takacs for Szretter’s second goal of the playoffs.
With 5:35 remaining in the period, Jamestown took a commanding three goal lead. After Takacs made a save, the loose puck was knocked out to the near side half wall where it was picked up by the Rebels Max Hamstad who sent it back to James Miller at the point. Miller took a shot that was saved by Takacs, who had lost his stick, but the rebound came right out to Joshua Burke who redirected into the net and past Takacs to make it a 3 – 0 game.
Like they did on this past Sunday’s game against the Northeast Generals, the Titans started to mount a comeback. Forty seconds after the Rebels took a 3 – 0 lead, Anthony Mollica scored his second goal of the playoffs to put the Red Buckets on the board. After the Rebels dumped the puck into the Titans zone, Owen Luik tapped the puck up to Mollica at his own blueline and he skated through center ice and into the offensive zone. As Mollica reached the bottom of the near side faceoff circle, he took a sharp angle shot that beat Suggs high, short side to make it a 3 – 1 game.
With 3:33 remaining in the opening period, Jamestown was called for too many men on the ice infraction to give the Titans the man advantage. A minute later Nick Ring brought the Titans within one. With a scrum behind the Rebels net, Anthony Calafiore was able to pass the puck to Brendan Dumas at the far side corner and he started to skate back towards the point. As Dumas reached the half wall, he sent a cross-ice pass to Ring at the top of the faceoff circle. Ring stepped up and took a wrist shot that beat Suggs high, long side to make it a 3 – 2 game.
Vaarwerk gave the Rebels a two-goal lead at 6:41 into the second period. Jamestown’s Kolby Amici started the play in his own near side corner and he passed the puck up to Jurrens at his own blueline. Jurrens made a strong cross-ice outlet pass up to Vaarwerk just outside the Titans zone. As Vaarwerk gained the line, he started to cut towards his right, stopped, slightly cut back to his left and took a wrist shot that beat Takacs short side to make it a 4 – 2 game.
Vaarwerk added another goal later in the period to make it 5 – 2, and he completed his natural hat trick with 3:49 remaining in the game to close out the scoring and make it 6 – 2 Rebels.
Takacs stopped 28 of 34 shots in defeat while Suggs turned aside 24 of 26. Click here for the box score.
The Titans will look to even the series at one tonight at 7:00PM at the Middletown Sports Complex.