The New Jersey Titans held on to a one-goal lead and defeated the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights, 5-4, at Revolution Ice Centre on Friday afternoon.
Brandon Perrone made 37 saves out of 41 shots in a winning effort while Cam Gendron and Gavin Gulash recorded a goal and an assist each. Mitch Machlitt scored his first goal as a Titan, which turned out to be the game-winner as the Titans have now won two of its last three games.
Cam Gendron opened the scoring at 3:35 of the first period. Michael Outzen ripped a pass to the far post, and Gendron tapped in his seventh goal of the season. The Knights responded when Sacha Guillemain wheeled the puck around the net and slid a pass across the crease, where Jake Fuss slammed home his fourth goal of the season at 13:07.
The Titans went on the power play late in the period, and Kyler Head slipped a pass to the low slot where Kyle Jeffers roofed a shot over the glove of Samuel Vyletelka with five seconds left on the clock. It was Jeffers’ 20th goal of the season, and gave the Titans a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission.
Gavin Gulash extended the lead one minute and seven seconds into the middle period. The Titans won the faceoff as Gulash slid to the top of the circle, and Spencer Stanley set him up for a one-timer that beat Vyletelka for his 13th of the season. At 10:59, a shot from the point was deflected by a Knights defenseman and went straight to Zach Nazzarett, who shot the puck into the yawning cage to make it 4-1. It was his first game since returning from the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL.
“I thought Nazzarett played well in his return. He provided a spark on offense for us, and he was able to find the back of the net,” said Titans head coach Craig Doremus. “I thought his line generated offense consistently all evening.”
The Knights scored two goals in a span of 44 seconds. Zak Currie carried the puck on the right side on a two-on-one rush and slid a pass across to Beck Moore, who tapped in his second goal of the season. Fuss cut the deficit to one by redirecting a shot from the point for his second goal of the game. Matt Passaretti took the shot from the point, and the call-up from the Knights’ EHL team recorded his first point in his NAHL debut.
New Jersey regained a two-goal lead when Mitch Machlitt scored his first goal as a Titan. He forced a turnover at his own blue line, raced up the ice and took a shot on goal. Vyletelka made the initial save, but Machlitt batted in the rebound after he was knocked down to the ice, making it a 5-3 game.
Just after the Titans killed off a penalty, Currie received a cross-crease feed where he tucked in his sixth goal of the year, cutting the Titans’ lead to 5-4 at 9:22 of the third period. It was all the Wilkes-Barre could muster, however, as Perrone made some key saves when the Knights had six attackers in the final minute.
The five-goal output was an excellent response after the Titans were shut out by the Jamestown Rebels last weekend. Doremus spoke about his forward corps, which was aided by the return of Nazzarett and Josef Glamos.
“Having Joe and Nazz back was great for our team. Two good forwards who provide more depth to our attack and obviously mean a lot to our dressing room as well,” said Doremus. He also spoke about Gulash and Gendron finding their way back on the score sheet. “Cam and Gavin have worked hard all year for us. They’ve been snake-bitten with some bad puck luck, so anytime you see them rewarded it’s great.”
The Titans are still looking to win consecutive games for the first time since early November, and they have a chance to sweep the home-and-home when both teams play tomorrow night at Middletown Sports Complex. The Titans will host Cub Scout night, and puck drop is slated for 7:30 p.m. For anyone that cannot attend the game, it will be available for streaming on hockeytv.com.
Photo Credit: Pete MacDonald (@PMacDonald51)