Nick Ring had a pair of goals to help lead the Titans to a 6 – 2 win over the visiting Northeast Generals and tie the best-of-five East Division semi-final series at one game apiece.
Despite the score, this game was very close until the Red Buckets finally got the bounce they sorely needed.
Anthony Molica, who led all Titans defensemen with three goals during the regular season against the Generals, got the Titans on the board with 8:27 remaining in the opening period. David Posma started the play behind his own net, and he passed it up to Ring who skated through center ice and into the offensive zone. As Ring reached the far side faceoff dot, he made a backhanded, cross-ice pass through the slot to a Mollica who redirected the puck past Northeast’s goalie Cullen DeYoung and into the net to give the Titans the 1 – 0 lead.
The Titans doubled their lead just nineteen seconds into the middle stanza. With play in the Generals near side corner, Posma sent a bounce pass off the end wall to Brendan Dumas who was behind but to the right of the Northeast net. As Dumas started to skate towards the slot, he made a centering pass through the goalmouth to Ryan Coughlin who redirected the puck past DeYoung for his first goal of the playoffs.
The Generals cut their deficit in half when Joe Schubert scored a minute later. After Northeast’s Jackson McCarthy sent the puck into the Titans zone, it was picked up by Owen Luik who sent a high bounce pass of the near side glass where it was gloved down by Ring. As Ring went to reverse, he tried to pass the puck to Tyler Sanborn, but Sanborn was stripped of the puck by the Generals’ David Andreychuk who passed it out front to a wide-open Schubert in the slot and the former Titan took a wrist shot that beat New Jersey netminder Andrew Takacs glove side to make it a 2 – 1 game.
At 7:50 into the second, Schubert was called for slashing to give the Titans the man advantage. With time winding down on the Red Buckets powerplay, Nick Ramm scored the Generals second shorthanded goal of the series. Ryan Gordan picked up the loose puck just in inside his own blueline and made a cross ice pass to a breaking Ramm down the near side boards. As Ramm gained the line, he took a wrist shot that beat Takacs’ glove side to knot the score at two.
The Titans regained the lead when Ring scored his first goal of the game with 1:32 remaining in the second. With the Titans pressuring inside the offensive zone, Dumas picked up the loose puck in the far side corner and he skated back to the point. As Dumas started to cut towards his right at the top of the slot, he passed it back to Posma at the near side point. Posma to a clapper that DeYoung stopped with his left-leg pad, but the rebound cut across in front of the Generals goalie and Ring, who was fighting offer a defender in the crease, tapped the puck into the net to give the Titans the 3 – 2 lead.
The Titans doubled their lead when Anthony Calafiore scored off a bounce the Red Buckets sorely needed. After Chris Carroll won the draw off the ensuring faceoff from Ring’s goal, the puck went towards Eric Charpentier along the near side boards who sent it up to Calafiore. As the Staten Island, NY native gained the line, he cut towards the faceoff dot and went to made a cross-ice to Levente Keresztes but the puck hit off Andreychuk’s skate in the slot and the biscuit rolled into the net and passed DeYoung, who was anticipating the cross-ice pass, to give the Titans a 4 – 2 lead.
Prior to this goal, the Titans had been hard pressed for any type of favorable bounce in their last three and a half games.
Ring made it 5 – 2 at 3:53 into the final period, and then tender Reece Brednich (playing in his first game as a Titan) scored a powerplay goal with 2:36 left in regulation to close out the scoring and make it a 6 – 2 game.
Takacs stopped 29 of 31 shots in the win while turned aside 33 of 39 in the loss. Click here for the box score.
The series now shifts to Attleboro, MA where game three will be held Friday at 7:00PM and game four on Saturday at the same time. Should a gave five be needed it will be held on Sunday, May 1 at 7:00PM at the Middletown Sports Complex.