Jake Suede and Anthony Calafiore each scored two goals to help lead the visiting New Jersey Titans to a 5 – 3 win over the Northeast Generals last night to close out the 2020-21 regular season. The victory also gave the Red Buckets a weekend split with the Generals.
The Titans win, coupled with Maryland’s lost to Johnstown, secured them the third seed in the upcoming divisional playoffs. They now will face the Maine Nordiques in the East Division’s best of five Semi-Final series beginning the weekend of May 21.
Northeast got on the board first just twenty-one seconds into the game on Dylan Schuett’s thirteenth goal of the season. Generals’ defenseman Adam Smith picked up the loose puck at his own far side half wall and sent a bounce pass off the boards to Schuett who immediately passed the puck up to a breaking Jake Dunlap. As Dunlap gained the offensive zone line and reached the faceoff circle’s hash marks, he made a centering pass out front to Schuett who redirected the puck past Titans netminder Cam Carroll to give the Generals a 1 – 0 lead.
A minute and twenty-two seconds later Blake Humphrey tied that game at one. Zach Nazzarett brought the puck up through center ice and into the offensive zone. As he reached the slot, he had the wherewithal to make a drop pass as he was being knocked off the puck to a trailing Matthew Iasenza. Iasenza took a wrist shot that was stopped by Generals’ goalie Hugo Haas but the puck trickled through the netminder’s arm right to Humphrey who tapped in the rebound for his sixteenth goal of the season.
At 4:26 of the first period Northeast’s Kyle Schroeder was called for slashing to give New Jersey the man advantage. Less then a minute later Suede scored the Titans first of three powerplay goals of the evening.
After Evan Werner took a shot on net that was blocked out front, the puck bounced off the near side half wall to Nick Seitz who made a shuttle pass to Humphrey at the top of the far side faceoff circle. Humphrey took a shot that was redirected out front by Suede and past Haas to give the Titans a 2 – 1 lead.
Northeast tied the game with 5:51 remaining in the opening period. After the Generals won the draw deep inside the Titans zone, the puck went back to Northeast’s defenseman Alexander Tertyshny at the near side point. Tertyshny took a shot that went wide of the net and into the far side corner where it was picked up by Schuett. Schuett passed the puck along the end boards to Paul Minnehan who made a pass out to Dunlap who was to caddy corner to the Titans net. Dunlap took a sharp angle shot that beat Carroll short side for his tenth goal of the season.
Just 1:28 into the middle stanza, Dunlap was called for tripping to give the Titans the man advantage. A minute and thirteen seconds later Calafiore gave the Titans the lead. After the puck squirted free from a scrum along the near side half wall in the Generals zone, it was picked up by Jake LaRusso who started to skate towards the Northeast net. With the lane being blocked, LaRusso passed the puck over to Nazzarett at the far side corner. Nazzarett made a centering pass to Calafiore in the slot the Robert Morris University commit took a wrist shot that beat Haas long side to make it a 3 – 2 game.
Then something rare happened. The Generals were awarded two penalty shots within a minute and twenty seconds of each other. Cade Penney was called for hooking at 9:38 of the second which resulted in Minnehan taking the first attempt that went wide of the net.
Penney was then called for slashing a minute and twenty seconds later giving the Generals’ Tyler Cooper their second penalty shot. Cooper converted on his attempt and beat Carrol to tie the game at three.
With 8:34 remaining in regulation, Tertyshny was called for slashing to give the Titans the man advantage. Twenty-nine seconds later Suede scored the Red Buckets third powerplay goal of the evening. After Humphrey took a shot on net that went wide, it bounced off the back the Generals cage to Suede who immediately passed it to Seitz who was to the left of Haas. Seitz made a cross-ice pass through the slot to Humphrey who took a shot on net that was redirected by Suede past Haas for his second goal of the game to give the Titans a 4 – 3 lead.
Calafiore scored his second goal of the game with 3:33 left in the third period to close out the scoring.
Carroll, who was called up earlier in the day and playing in his first NAHL game, stopped 28 of 31 shots while Haas turned aside 43 of 48. Click here for the box score.
The Titans now will turn their attention to the second seed Nordiques in the first round of the playoffs. During the season the Titans won four of ten games between the teams.