Nick Ring scored with fifty seconds remaining in overtime to give the visiting Titans an exciting 4 – 3 win over the Maryland Black Bears in game one of this critical two-game series at Piney Orchard Arena.
The win expands the Titans lead in the East Division to four points over the second place Black Bears.
Maryland opened the scoring with 7:54 left in the first period on Jack Blanchett’s first goal as a Black Bear (sixth on the season). After a Titans turn over at the top of their own far side faceoff circle, the puck was picked up by Maryland’s Jesse Horacek who passed the puck down low to Branden Piku in the corner. Piku passed the biscuit to a wide-open Blanchett in the slot and Blanchett took a wrist shot that beat Titans netminder Andrew Takacs blocker side to give the Black Bears a 1 – 0 lead.
The Titans then tied it at 5:31 of the second period on Anthony Calafiore’s 14th goal of the season. After Piku’s shot from the top of the Titans near side faceoff circle went wide, the puck wrapped around the boards and was picked up by Levente Keresztes who skated through center ice and into the offensive zone. As Keresztes reached the far side faceoff circle, he passed the puck back to a trailing Calafiore in the slot and Calafiore took a wrist shot that beat Black Bears goalie Michael Morelli glove side to make it a 1 – 1 game.
Stephen Willey scored with 9:13 remaining in the middle stanza to give the Titans their first lead of the game. As time was expiring on a Titans powerplay, David Posma had the puck at the top of the slot and passed it down low to Michael Young in the slot. As Young went to make a pass, he was knocked off the biscuit, but the puck went straight to Willey who was to the left of Young and Willey shot it past Morelli and into the net for Willey’s eighth goal of the season.
Maryland’s Ryan Bottrill tied the game at two just 1:58 into the third period. After Takacs stoned Bottrill on a semi-breakaway, Bottrill picked up the rebound and went behind the Titans net. As Bottrill circled around the cage and to the left of Takacs, Bottrill took a shot on net that was blocked out front but Bottrill again picked up the rebound, but this time was able to beat Takacs short side for his ninth goal of the season.
The Black Bears took their second lead of the night at 4:25 into the third. Maryland’s Tyler Young picked up the loose puck at the top of his own far side blueline and skated through center ice and into the offensive zone. As Young gained the line, he went around a Titans defender and walked in all alone on Takacs and beat the Titans netminder long side for Young’s third goal of the season.
Maryland’s lead didn’t last long. Twenty seconds in fact as Ryan Coughlin knotted the score at three. After the ensuing faceoff, the puck went back into the Black Bears zone where it was eventually picked up by Blanchett at the bottom of his own far side faceoff circle. Blanchett went to make an outlet pass towards the boards, but it was intercepted by the Titans’ Young. As Young reached the far side faceoff dot, he made a centering pass out front to Coughlin who deked around Morelli and Coughlin lifted the puck up and over the fallen Maryland goaltender and into the net to make it a 3 – 3 game.
After regulation ended tied at three, the game went into a five-minute overtime. With under a minute to play in the extra period, Colin Grable set up the play behind his own net. As Grable circled his own cage and to the left of Takacs, Grable made a long stretch pass up to Coughlin at the top of the Black Bears near side blueline. As Coughlin reached the faceoff circle, he made a centering pass out front to Ring who deked around Morelli and deposited the biscuit into the net for his seventh goal of the season to give the Titans the 4 – 3 win.
Takacs stopped 41 of 44 shots in the victory while Morelli turned aside 25 of 29. Click here for the box score.
The teams will conclude their two-game series tonight at 7:00PM.