The New Jersey Titans advance to the second round of the Robertson Cup Playoffs after they defeated the Jamestown Rebels at Northwest Arena on Monday night by a score of 3-2.
Gavin Gulash, Chris Garbe and Ryan Naumovski scored for the Titans while Brandon Perrone finished the night with 28 saves, helping the team to its second playoff series win in franchise history. It’s also the first time that the Titans managed to win a best-of-five series after trailing 2-0.
“I am happy because we continue to grow and learn as a team. It’s important to learn how to win and what it takes, and we are doing that each and every day now,” said Titans head coach Craig Doremus.
Gulash got things started with a power-play goal at 9:11 of the first period. Mitch Machlitt had control of the puck near the right faceoff dot and ripped a pass to the front of the goal, where the Red Bank, N.J. native managed to redirect the puck by Rebels starting goaltender Ryan Keane. Later in the period, Ryan Naumovski went to the box for tripping, but it turned out in their favor as Chris Garbe scored a shorthanded goal. Michael Outzen flipped the puck out to neutral ice, as Garbe flagged it down and lifted a shot high-blocker side to make it a 2-0 game. It was the Brown commit’s team-leading third goal of the playoffs.
New Jersey kept the momentum going in the second period when Naumovski scored 13:04. Kyler Head gathered a rebound and made a nifty backhand pass to the Niagara commit, who fired a turnaround shot past Keane to make it 3-0. Rebels coach Joe Coombs decided to shake things up by replacing Keane with backup goalie Noah West.
The move appeared to pay off when the Rebels started to work their way back into the game. Antonio Venuto put Jamestown on the board at 14:48 of the second period with a power-play goal, and Colin Schmidt reduced the deficit to one at 18:59 when he buried a loose puck off a wraparound attempt.
Jamestown made a push for the tying goal in the third period, but the Titans were able to lock it down defensively, even outshooting the Rebels 8-6 in the final 20 minutes. Part of that can be attributed to the Titans’ skaters blocking shots. Doremus made note of his team’s sacrifice, especially in the waning minutes of the third period while Jamestown had six attackers on the ice.
“It’s amazing what can be achieved when you play fearlessly,” Doremus said of his team’s shot blocking in Game 5.
Perrone stopped any shot that did get through, and his best save of the night came midway through the third when Auggie Moore walked right down the middle of the ice. He fired a shot for the top right corner, but Perrone stood tall and fought the shot off while his teammates cleared the rebound.
We practiced all year for this and we all knew we can do it. We competed and everyone bought it and believed in themselves, most importantly,” Perrone said of the Game 5 victory.
Amidst all of the emotions that came with the Titans’ comeback and series win, it’s back to business as usual, and the team will travel to Johnstown, Penn. where they will face the number-one seeded Tomahawks in the East Division Final.
“Johnstown is a different series for us. We will get to work on them as soon as we touch back in New Jersey in the morning. We have to make sure we are ready for another tough series,” Doremus said. “We know their power play was lethal all year. Nonetheless we are excited to get to Johnstown and get the second round started.”
Here is the schedule for the East Division Final between the Titans and Tomahawks:
Game 1: Apr 26 @ Johnstown – 7:30 p.m.
Game 2: Apr 27 @ Johnstown – 7:00 p.m.
Game 3: May 3 @ New Jersey – 7:30 p.m.
*Game 4: May 4 @ New Jersey – 7:00 p.m.
*Game 5: May 5 @ Johnstown – 6:00 p.m.
Photo Credit: Jessica Kovalcin