Zach Nazzarett scored the overtime winning goal in the New Jersey Titans’ 4-3 overtime win against the Northeast Generals at Middletown Sports Complex on Saturday night.
Coming into the third period down 3-1, the Titans came back in the final 3:47 of regulation with goals from Kyler Head and Gavin Gulash. Ryan Winter made 33 saves on the 36 shots he faced, as New Jersey completes a weekend sweep over the Generals while improving its record to 24-21-1.
“We’ve been a little inconsistent, up and down hockey and split weekends, so to come out of here with four points is huge,” said Titans head coach Craig Doremus. “With Northeast right under our tail in the standings, the win was absolutely huge for us, and hopefully it’s something we carry forward with us.”
Aurel Naus opened the scoring at 7:02 of the first period. Dylan Schuett took a backhand shot that rang off the post, and the puck was lost underneath the pads of Winter. Naus found the loose puck and tapped in his 12th goal of the season to give Northeast the lead.
The Generals continued its momentum into the second period and jumped to a 2-0 lead 37 seconds in. Connor Marshall flung a stretch pass up the ice for Alex Cohen, as he ripped a shot over Winter’s glove for his 10th goal of the season.
Later in the period, the Titans went on a 4-on-3 power play. Michael Outzen sent a pass to the goalmouth, and the puck hit off of Gulash’s heel and into the net. The goal was waved off as the net was knocked off its pegs. The Titans were undeterred by the call, as Brody Medeiros ripped a one-timer past Sturma’s glove to make it 2-1.
One minute and 27 seconds after Medeiros’ goal, Naus restored the Generals’ two-goal lead with his second of the night. He worked a give-and-go with Dylan Schuett, took the puck behind the net for a wraparound and beat Winter to the near post for his 13th goal of the season.
Down by two goals heading into the third period, Nazzarett spoke about the mood in the locker room and what the team needed to do to get back in the game.
“We knew we just had to get more shots on goal. We weren’t playing bad, but we just had to get more pucks on net and stick to the game plan,” he said.
Before the Titans could mount a comeback effort, they had to kill three consecutive penalties within the first ten minutes of the third period. The penalty killers successfully minimized high-danger opportunities for the Generals and kept them off the board. Once the Titans returned to full-strength, they were able to ramp up the offensive pressure and put Northeast on their heels.
Head got things rolling with 3:47 left in the period, as he took the puck wide and threw a pass to the middle that deflected off Sturma’s pad and into the net. It was his eighth goal of the season and made it a 3-2 game.
With just over a minute to go, Winter bolted to the bench for the extra attacker. Josef Glamos, a forward who was playing as a defenseman throughout the game, had the puck at the top of the circle. He found Gulash in the low slot, and ripped a pass right to his stick for a re-direction. The tip-in beat Sturma, and Gulash tied the game with 43.5 seconds left in regulation.
“It was just a scramble in front of the net, I just tried to get lost behind all the defensemen, and Joey made a really nice pass back-door. The rest was pretty easy,” said Gulash, who is now tied with Kyle Jeffers for most goals on the team with 22.
The overtime period only lasted for a minute and 52 seconds. Nazzarett carried the puck from his own end, entered the offensive zone on the left side and slipped the puck by Sturma on a wraparound for the game-winning goal. The University of Miami Ohio commit has points in three straight games and improved the Titans’ record in overtime to 4-1.
“I circled low, Brody gave me a good pass. I cut to middle, beat the guy wide, took it around the net and just got a lucky break there as the puck went in,” Nazzarett said. “We really needed that win. Northeast was right under us in the standings, so it was good to get the points and solidify our spot in the standings.”
New Jersey picked up consecutive home wins for the first time since October 26-27, and was the second time they strung together a pair of victories in the calendar year. The Titans will look to make it three in a row when they return to action on February 22 for a road game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights.
Prior to that game, however, the NAHL will host the Top Prospects Tournament this Monday and Tuesday in Attleboro, Massachusetts. Gavin Gulash, Spencer Stanley and Brody Medeiros will represent Team East while Kyle Jeffers and Ryan Naumovski will play for the NAHL Selects team. All of the games will be streamed on hockeytv.com, and for more information on the tournament, you can visit nahl.com/tpt/.
Photo Credit: Pete MacDonald (Twitter: @PMacDonald51)