MIDDLETOWN, N.J. – The Titans weathered a first period storm and carried the momentum to a 5-2 win over the Johnstown Tomahawks.
The opening minutes were littered with penalties as New Jersey spent the first half of the opening period in the penalty box. However, Johnstown was unable to find the net despite outshooting the Titans by an 18-0 margin as a result of all the power play time.
With all the penalties killed, the Titans used the momentum and capitalized when Bruno Birzitis connected with his 11th goal of the season from Roberts Smits and William Riedel. With goal coming at 18:20, the Titans were able to take a one-goal lead into the first intermission.
It looked like it would be a gritty end as Johnstown was next to record a tally. Anthony Parucci rushed up the ice with Drew Doyon who managed bat a rebound out of midair to get the puck past Spencer Wright after the initial shot from Parucci.
But that was as close as it got for the remainder of the game.
The Titans regained the lead on a power play goal after Andrew Durham redirected a shot from Jake Hamilton past Tomahawks’ netminder Andrew Lindgren. It was Durham’s 10th goal of the season. Igor Valko also was credited with an assist.
They finished the night 1-for-3 with the man advantage.
Even with time winding down and a comfortable two-goal lead, New Jersey still kept pushing. It resulted in an open lane for Anthony Cusanelli’s 13th goal of the season. After some diagonal passing in the final seconds of the second period, Cusanelli fired from the left circle passed a sprawled out Lindgren. There was only 2.6 seconds left to spare.
Despite a comeback effort that saw the Tomahawks get a goal from Luke Lynch, Wright held the fort as he turned aside 41 Johnstown shots.
The Titans also saw a boost in the penalty kill, not allowing a power play goal on four Johnstown attempts, all of which were in the first period.
The Titans will return to the ice on Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 11 a.m. in a making up game of the Nov. 28 postponement against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights. The next home game set for Saturday Feb. 13, also against the Knights.