The New Jersey Titans scored five unanswered second period goals to over come an early two goal deficit to defeat the Maryland Black Bears 8 – 5 at Piney Orchard Ice Arena last night. Kyler Head would score a natural hattrick in the third period for the visiting Titans.
Following their script from Friday night, the Black Bears took a two-goal lead in the first period. Maryland’s forward Wilmer Skoog would take a shot from the top of the far side faceoff circle that was defected off a skate and hit the end boards but the rebound came out to Luke Mountain who was to the left of Titans netminder Patrick Pugliese. Mountain sent a pass across the goal mouth to a breaking Skoog who took a off-angle shot that beat Pugliese high, long side to give the Black Bears a 1 – 0 lead with 8:17 remaining in the first period.
The Black Bears would double their score three minutes later. As Titans forward Jake LaRusso was trying to breakout of his own zone, he was stripped off the puck by Maryland’s Reid Leibold at the top of the far side blueline. As Leibold went to control the puck it was picked up by teammate Mountain who sent a cross-ice pass to Logan Kittleson who took a wrist shot from the near side faceoff circle that beat Pugliese top shelf to close out the first period scoring.
Despite being down two goals to start the second, the Titans would then score five unanswered goals in three and a half minutes to take control of the game.
Black Bears defenseman Thomas Jarman was called for cross-checking at 6:36 of the middle stanza to give the Titans the man advantage. Thirty seconds later Brody Medeiros would cut the Titans deficit in half.
After the draw, the puck would go back to Mederious at the top of the point. Setting up the play he would pass the puck to Jeffers on his left. The two would pass it back and forth a couple of times as then Jeffers would skate back to the top of the blueline while Mederious skated to the top of the far side faceoff circle. Jeffers would leave a drop pass to Shane Haviland who immediately passed it to Mederious on his left. Mederious took a one-timer that beat Black Bears goalie Gavin Abric short side to make it a 2 – 1 game.
Matt Cameron would tie the game thirty seconds later. Off the draw inside the Black Bears zone, Mitch Machlitt picked up the rebound behind the Black Bears net and tried a centering pass to Cameron who was out front but was tied up by a Black Bears defenseman. Cameron didn’t give up on the play and picked up the puck to the left side of Abric and Cameron skated through the goal mouth. Abric would make consecutive saves on Cameron and Machlitt but Cameron picked up the rebound from Machlitt’s shot and put it past the fallen netminder to make it a 2 – 2 game.
The Black Bears were called for a delay of game to put the Titans back on the power play. Playing four on three, Cameron would give the Titans the lead. Oli Andersen retrieved the puck off the near side boards and passed it over to Cameron on his left. Cameron took a one-time howitzer of a shot that beat Abric high glove side make it 3 – 2 Titans.
At 9:16 into the second, Kyle Jeffers would make it 4 – 2 Titans. Jeffers would win the draw inside the Black Bears zone and the puck would go back to Tyler Nasca at the near side blueline. Nasca took a nice, low line slapshot that was saved by Abric but Jeffers picked up the rebound and put it in the open net.
A minute later Maryland’s Hampus Rydqvist was called for slashing to put the Titans back on the power play.
The fifth goal was like the fourth. Machlitt would win the draw inside the Black Bears zone. The puck would go back to Oli Anderson at the top of the near side blueline. Anderson took a shot from the point that Abric saved but Michael Outzen knocked in the rebound to give the Titans a 5 – 2 lead.
The Black Bears would score just a minute into the third to make it 5 – 3 but Head would score his first goal of the game. As the Black Bears tried to clear the zone, Jeffers would intercept the outlet pass at the top of the blueline. Jeffers skated towards the net and passed it over to Head on his left. Head took a wrister that beat Abric to put the Titans back up by three at 3:14 into the third.
Three and a half minutes later Head would score his second goal. Zackery Diamont would pick up the loose puck inside his own zone and he sent a bounce pass that Head picked up along the far side boards. As Head cut across the middle of the slot, he beat Abric long side to give the Titans a 7 – 3 lead.
Skoog would then score two more goals (three total on the night) to make it 7 – 5 but Head would finish his hat trick with an empty net goal to close out the scoring.
New Jersey went three for four on the powerplay. Pugliese stopped 29 of 34 shots in the win while Arbic turned aside 35 of 42 shots in the loss. Click here for the box score.
The Titans will leave on Tuesday to the NAHL’s annual showcase that starts on Wednesday in Blaine, MN.