Jake Suede scored with 0:06.8 remaining in the third period to give the Titans a 6 – 5 win over the visiting Johnstown Tomahawks in a thrilling seesaw battle last night at the Middletown Sports Complex.
It was the Titans third straight win, and longest winning streak of the season.
Nick Seitz opened the scoring New Jersey at 8:49 into the first period. Cade Penney, who was playing in his first game this year with the Titans after playing in the USHL, picked up the loose puck at his own near side blueline and passed it up to Zach Nazzarett at center ice. Nazzarett made a shuttle pass to Seitz on his left and the Princeton University commit brought the puck into the offensive zone where he was met by Johnstown’s David Paluch. Paluch knocked the puck off Seitz’s stick but it was picked up by Penney who drove to the net. As Penney went to circle behind the Tomahawks cage, he threw the puck out front to Seitz and Seitz took a wrist shot that beat Johnstown goalie Peyton Grainer short side to make a 1 – 0 game. The goal gave Seitz a point in twelve straight games.
Twenty-seven seconds later Anthony Calafiore doubled the Titans lead. As the Tomahawks tried to breakout of their own end, Titans defenseman Jack Karlsson kept the loose puck in offensive zone, and he dumped the biscuit to the end boards where it was picked up by Calafiore. The Robert Morris University commit circled behind the Johnstown net and skated to the top of the slot. After making a drag move, Calafiore simply wristed the puck on net that handcuffed Grainer and the biscuit trickled off the netminder and into the net for Calafiore’s seventh goal of the season.
Suede was called for cross-checking at 9:30 into the period to give Johnstown the man advantage. A minute later Caden Lewandowski cut the Titans lead in half. The Tomahawks’ Ryan Poorman started the play at the near side point, and he passed the puck up to Jay Ahearn at the top of the faceoff circle. Ahearn sent the puck to Anthony Mastromonica behind the cage and Mastromonica made a centering pass out front to Lewandowski who took a one-timer that beat Titans goalie Berk Berkeliev to make it a 2 – 1 game.
The Titans regained the two-goal lead on Connor Pelc’s second goal of the season just 1:46 into the middle stanza. Tyler Nasca picked up the loose puck at the top of his own far side faceoff circle and sent a bounce pass high off the glass to center ice where it was picked up by Pelc. As the Hamburg, NY native entered the offensive zone, he passed the puck to Jack Ring on his right. Ring circled and passed it to a trailing Nasca who took a bomb that went off Pelc’s stick and past Grainer to make it 3 – 1 Titans.
What appeared to be the makings of a blowout, the worst advantage to have in hockey lived up to its reputation: the dreaded two-goal lead. The Tomahawks then scored three consecutive goals to make it a 4 – 3 game going into the third period.
The Titans knotted the score at four at 3:01 into the final period. Levente Keresztes picked up an errant Tomahawks pass just outside the Johnstown blueline. As Keresztes gained the offensive zone, he made a cross-ice pass to Jake LaRusso. LaRusso immediately passed the puck to Blake Humphrey on his left and Humphrey buried a one-timer past Grainer for his third goal of the season.
Johnstown took a 5 – 4 lead at 8:15 into the third. With the Tomahawks pressuring inside the Titans zone, Reed Stark picked up the loose puck at the near side half wall and passed it to Matt McQuade on his left. As McQuade started to skate back towards the blueline, he turned and took a shot that went wide of the net, but the puck took a strong bounce off the end boards to Daniel Tkac who was to the left of Berkeliev and he tapped in the rebound past a surprised Berkeliev short side.
Midway through the third, LaRusso tied it. After Brad Zona picked up the loose puck at the top of his own near side faceoff circle, he passed it up to LaRusso at center ice who immediately passed it to Keresztes on his left. As Keresztes gained the line, his passed the puck to Humphrey at the point. Humphrey sent a pass down low to Keresztes and the Budapest, Hungary native took a shot that was saved by Grainer, but the deep rebound came right out to LaRusso who buried the biscuit into the open net for his eighth goal of the season.
With end-to-end action as the period started to wind down, Berkeliev made two successive saves off a Johnstown breakaway to keep the scored tied at five.
Then the fireworks started as time was running out in regulation. With thirteenth seconds remaining in the period, Penney simply dumped the puck from the near side red line and into the Tomahawks zone where it was picked up by Lewandowski at the end boards. The Johnstown defenseman went to send a wrap around pass behind his own net, but it was intercepted by Matthew Iasenza who was to the right of Grainer. Iasenza threw the puck out front to Calafiore who took a shot that was saved by Grainer, but Suede tucked in the rebound to win the game.
Berkeliev stopped 25 of 30 shots while Grainer turned aside 18 of 24. Click here for the box score.
The Titans will have a short break and will return to action two weeks from today as they travel to Attleboro, MA to play the Northeast Generals for a two-game series.