Christian Stoever turned aside all 35 shot he faced, and five different players hit the back of the net to lead the visiting New Jersey Titans to a 5 – 0 win over the Maryland Black Bears. The victory enabled the Titans to split the two-game weekend series and grow their lead over the fourth place Black Bears by three points in the East Division standings with three games remaining in the regular season for each team.
Thankfully the Titans were able to play the game at all. The contest was originally cancelled due to high winds and thunderstorm warnings in the Odenton, MD area. After the storm passed, power was restored to the barn and to the Titans offense.
Evan Werner scored the Titans first goal, and eventual game winner, just 1:49 into the contest. After Black Bears goalie Tristan Mecenas made a save, the deep rebound was picked up by Werner who sent the puck back to Jack Ring at the top of the far side blueline. Ring forwarded the puck to Caleb Price at the half wall and the veteran defenseman sent a seamless pass to Werner in the high slot and the rookie forward took a wrist shot that beat Mecenas for his team high twenty-first goal of the season.
The Titans doubled their lead on Stephen Willey’s tenth goal of the season with 3:03 remaining in the period. Levente Keresztes picked up the loose puck in the slot to the left of Mecenas. Keresztes went behind the net and as he started to come out of his turn, he made a centering pass that went through the goal mouth and to the middle of the near side faceoff circle where it was picked up by Brad Zona. The assistant captain took a sharp angle shot on net that was redirected off of traffic out front in the crease and Willey tapped in the rebound past Mecenas. Willey is now the eighth different Red Bucket to have scored ten or more goals on the season.
Blake Humphrey made it 3 – 0 with 9:50 left in the second period. Matt Doyle gloved down the puck at the top of the near side blueline to keep it inside the offensive zone. Doyle passed it to Zach Nazzarett on his right at the high slot. As Nazzarett went towards the net, he made a cross-ice pass back to Humphrey who took a backdoor shot into the open net for his fifteenth goal of the season.
Tyler Nasca put the Titans up 4 – 0 with 4:56 remaining in the middle stanza. After Jake LaRusso brought the puck into the Black Bears zone along the near side boards, he took a shot that was blocked out front and the biscuit came out to Ring at the half wall and he sent it back to LaRusso at the top of the faceoff circle. LaRusso made a cross-ice pass back to Nasca at the top of the blueline and Nasca stepped up and took a shot from the top of the far side faceoff circle and past Mecenas for his fourth goal of the season. LaRusso’s assist was his twenty-seventh on the season which leads the team. The Colts Neck, NJ native now leads the Titans with 43 total points.
Eight seconds later Anthony Calafiore scored his fifteenth goal of the season to close out the scoring and make it a 5 – 0 game.
Stoever recorded his second shutout of the season, and his thirteenth win out of 20 games played this year since he joined the team in early February. Mecenas stopped 24 of 29 shots. Click here for the box score.
The Titans will play their last three games of the regular season starting on Tuesday for a 1:00 PM matinee game against the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks, and then they will close out the regular season next weekend with a two-game series against the Northeast Generals in Attleboro, MA.