Rookie goaltender Arseni Sergeev turned aside 37 of 38 shots today to lead the New Jersey Titans to a 2 – 1 victory over the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. He performance was simply brilliant, making several 10 bell saves – particularly in the third period when his team needed him.
The Titans would take a 1 – 0 lead with 2:42 remaining in the opening period. However, the goal wasn’t called right away.
After the Ice Dogs dumped the puck deep inside the offensive zone for a line change, Titans’ defenseman Mac Wiseman retrieved it and started to skate up along the far side boards. As he got to his own blueline, he passed the puck to Tyler Nasca on his right who sent a bounce pass off the near side boards. As the puck rolled towards the end boards, Ice Dogs goalie Mattias Sholl went to play it but couldn’t handle it. Zach Diamont picked up the loose puck to the left of Sholl at the goal line and put it between the Ice Dogs goalie’s legs and it slid across the red line. However, an Ice Dogs defenseman picked up the puck and shot it back into play.
After action had continued for quite some time, a stoppage of play was finally called. The officials spoke at length and then ruled that when Diamont tucked the puck between Sholl’s legs it did cross the red line thereby giving the Titans a 1 – 0 lead.
Midway through the second period Cam Gendron would double the Titans score on a beautiful pass from Kyler Head.
After an Ice Dogs turnover in the offensive zone, Head would bring the puck up along the near side boards with Gendron as the trailer. As Head entered the Ice Dogs zone, he skated to the faceoff dot and sent a centering pass to Gendron in the slot and Wilmington, MA native redirected the puck passed Sholl to make it 2 – 0 Titans with 9:31 remaining in the period.
However, the Titans were playing NAHL perennial powerhouse Fairbanks and no lead is safe against them. Despite down by two, the Ice Dogs started to gain the momentum of the game, having outshot the Titans 16 – 12 in the middle stanza.
Entering the third period shorthand from a bench minor penalty carried over from the previous period, Sergeev kept his teammates in the game. With time winding down on the penalty, Sergeev made his second 10 ball save of the game. Moving from his right to his left, Sergeev made another back-door pad save to keep the Ice Dogs off the scoreboard.
With Brad Zona called for tripping at 6:02 into the third period, the Ice Dogs threw everything but the kitchen sink at Sergeev but the 6’4” netminder from Yaroslavl, RU held his ground.
With the Zona’s penalty running out, the Ice Dogs were finally able to break through. As a scrum occurred along the end boards behind Zergeev, Fairbanks Oliver Kjaer was able to pick up the loose puck and skate around the net toward’s Zergeev’s right side. As Zergeev slid to the post, Kjaer was able to send a pass through the goal mouth and Parker Dunn was able to redirect the puck past the fallen Titans netminder to make it a 2 – 1 game with twelve minutes remaining.
Smelling blood, the Ice Dogs pounced on the Titans but Sergeev was too much having stopped 13 of 14 shots in the final period alone to end the game.
Sholl stopped 26 of 28 Titans shots. Click here for the box score.
The Titans will play game two of the Showcase tomorrow at 5:00PM ET against the Shreveport Mudbugs.