Titans comeback effort falls short in 5-3 loss to Knights

The New Jersey Titans erased a 3-0 deficit, but gave up two third-period goals in a 5-3 loss to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights on Friday night at Revolution Ice Centre.

After giving up three goals in the first period, New Jersey stormed back with three of their own in the second period. Tim DeBord, who was called up from the Titans’ Tier III affiliate New Jersey 87’s, scored twice in his NAHL debut while Mitch Machlitt added a goal. Brandon Perrone and Zach Stejskal made 26 saves each, while the latter goaltender walked away with the victory and led the Knights to its fourth consecutive win.

Jordan Strand opened the scoring at 7:56 of the first period. He corralled a pass in the high slot and fired a wrist shot through traffic that beat Brandon Perrone, collecting his third goal of the year. Gabe Temple doubled the lead with 2:56 remaining. Blake Kryska threw a pass from the blue line to a cutting Temple, as he slid a backhander into an open net for his 15th goal of the season.

Kyler Head was sent to the box for cross-checking, and the Knights wasted no time converting on the power play. Sacha Guillemain carried the puck from the right half-wall to the slot, and slid a quick pass to Kryska who tapped in a power-play goal, earning his second point of the period. It was the first time this season the Knights put up three goals in the first period.

New Jersey was undeterred in by the 3-0 score and went right to work in the second period. Mitch Machlitt put the Titans on the board 46 seconds in when he carried the puck into the Knights’ zone on the right side, took a shot on goal and put away his own rebound for his 12th goal of the year.

Tim DeBord, who was called up from the New Jersey 87’s of the EHL for his Titans debut, scored his first goal with the team and cut the deficit to 3-2. Streaking down the left wing, his initial shot was blocked, but he slipped a shot five-hole on the follow-up attempt. He scored again late in the third period when Joe Glamos took a shot from the point that ricocheted off DeBord’s skate and past Stejskal, knotting the score at 3 apiece. Ryan Tucker, who started the season with the Titans’ 18U team, picked up a secondary assist on the tying goal for his first NAHL point.

Head coach Craig Doremus praised DeBord’s effort (as well as the entire line which included Tucker and Machlitt), noting that his goals sparked the Titans bench when erasing the three-goal deficit.

“Tim and his linemates were great for us especially in the second period. Tim took the first to get settled in, but then his game really came along,” Doremus said. “They fed off his strong play and it was huge in our comeback effort.”

There was an extended delay with 13:54 left in the third period. Right before a faceoff, the Titans bench caught the officials attention and pointed out that one of the doors would not close. Players on both teams went to the the locker room as the Revolution Ice Centre staff fixed the door hinge, resulting in a 20-minute delay.

Wilkes-Barre came out strong when play resumed, and they regained the lead with 8:30 left in the third period. On a three-on-one rush, Guillemain received a pass as he cut to the right side of the goal and dropped a pass to Jeffrey Bertrand. He slammed in his sixth goal of the season and made it a 4-3 game. With about two minutes remaining in regulation, Perrone was pulled for the extra attacker, but Guillemain capitalized with an empty-netter. It completed a four-point night for him as the Knights secured the 5-3 win.

When asked about the delay in the third period, Doremus downplayed the effect it had on his team.

“I don’t think the delay had anything to do with the final result. Both teams had to deal with it and obviously Wilkes was able to play well coming out of it, and we were not,” he said.

The Titans return to Middletown Sports Complex when they host a back-to-back against the Johnstown Tomahawks on March 1 and 2. Friday’s game will start at 7:45 p.m. while Saturday’s contest has a 7:30 p.m. puck drop.

 

Photo Credit: Pete MacDonald (Twitter: @PMacDonald51)