The visiting Titans fell to the Johnstown Tomahawks 4 – 2 to close out the 2022-23 regular season for both teams and split the weekend series. It was the first time in eight games this year that Johnstown defeated New Jersey.
Despite the loss, which included playing with three affiliate call ups from the New Jersey Titans 18U team, it was a remarkable season for the reigning NAHL Robertson Cup National Champions. They started the year with a 0 – 6 record and then proceeded to win 38 of the next 54 games for a winning percentage of .700%. They won 38 games, which was second most in team history and they finished with 80 points – the second most in franchise history. They also have advanced to the Robertson Cup playoffs again. They are the only East Division team to qualify for the post season each season in its eight-year history (minus the Covid season).
One of the call ups – defenseman Patrick Haines – received a high sticking double minor just 2:14 into the game which resulted in the Tomahawks first two goals of the game.
Morganville, NJ native Anthony Galante opened the scoring at 3:08 of the first period when he took a wrist shot from just inside the far side hash marks that beat Titans netminder Zak Brice high, glove side for Galante’s first goal of the game.
As time was about to expire in Haines double minor, Johnstown’s Nick Ahern scored on a “Michigan” goal to give the Tomahawks a 2 – 0 at 4:55 into the game.
With 4:22 remaining in the first period, Michael Young cut the Titans deficit in half. After Sylas Oberting blocked a shot in front of his own next, he head manned the puck up to another call up – Arhip Sidarovich – at center ice. As Sidarovich gained the offensive zone line, he made a cross-ice pass from the top of the near side faceoff circle to Young who took a wrist shot that beat Johnstown’s netminder Adam Johnson for Young’s 29th goal of the season.
Just thirty-nine seconds later, Johnstown’s David Matousek stripped Owen Luik off the puck just outside the Titans zone and walked in all-alone on a breakaway that was saved by Brice but the rebound came out to Andrew King who tapped in the rebound past Brice and into the back of the net to make it a 3 – 1 game.
Galante scored on a backhanded shot from the slot at 5:09 into the middle stanza to give the Tomahawks a 4 – 1 lead.
Sidarovich scored his first NAHL career goal with 4:49 remaining in the game to make it 4 – 2. Brian Robertson kept the puck in the Johnstown zone along the near side boards and passed the biscuit to Anthony Calafiore in the faceoff dot. Calafiore saw an open Sidarovich at the top of the slot, and the captain feed the rookie with a pass, and Sidarovich took a wrist shot that beat Johnson to close out the scoring.
Brice stopped 30 of 34 shots while Johnson turned aside 16 of 18. Click HERE for the complete box score.
The Titans now turn their attention on capturing their second straight Robertson Cup as the East Division semi-finals open up on Friday, April 21st at 7:30PM when the Red Buckets host the Maine Nordiques for game one of the best-of-five series.