The New Jersey Titans surrendered three goals in the second period, including two in a span of 55 seconds, in a 4-3 loss to the Johnston Tomahawks at 1st Summit Arena on Saturday night.
Gavin Gulash, Nick Boyagian and Kyle Jeffers each scored in a third period comeback effort, but it wasn’t enough as Johnstown took the second of a three-game set. Kade Phipps made 29 saves in the win, while Titans goaltender Joe Halstrom stopped 22 of 26 shots in the loss.
Neither team broke through in the first period, but it was eventful nevertheless. Titans defenseman Holden Biebel and Tomahawks forward Samuel Solensky dropped the gloves at 10:50 of the opening stanza and were both sent to the locker room for the remainder of the period. Each team traded quality scoring chances, as the Titans had a 10-7 shot advantage after 20 minutes.
Reagan Wortz opened the scoring at 3:53 of the second period as he took the puck from the corner and skated in front of New Jersey’s net and beat Halstrom for his first goal of the season. Johnstown extended the lead at 11:37 when a wide open Christian Gorscak received a pass in the low slot and potted his third goal of the season. Then, 55 seconds later, Andy Nedeljkovic took a sharp-angle shot that squeaked by Halstrom to give the Tomahawks a 3-0 lead.
Despite the rough period, Halstrom made some quality saves, including an incredible pad stop on a one-timer from Carter Dwyer. The shot came from the left faceoff dot, but Halstrom pushed across to his right and made the save.
Gavin Gulash opened the scoring in the third period, as he received a pass in the slot and ripped a shot high-glove side past Phipps, recording his fourth goal in two games. A minute and 14 seconds later, Boyagian notched his 11th goal of the season on a wrister from the high slot, and shortened New Jersey’s deficit to one goal.
Pressing for the majority of the third period, the Titans were unable to get the tying goal, and a high-sticking penalty from Jeffers lead to a power-play goal from Donovan Ott at 17:28 of the period. Jeffers tried to make amends by scoring a power-play goal of his own, which was also his eighth point in his last four games. However, it was too little and too late, as his goal came with 11 seconds remaining in the game.
Tomorrow will be the rubber match of the three-game set with a puck drop of 3 p.m. All of the action will be streamed on hockeytv.com.