Kyle Jeffers scored the game winning goal with 4:11 left in the third period to give the visiting New Jersey Titans a 4 – 2 victory over the Johnstown Tomahawks. The win enabled the Titans to split the important weekend series between the teams.
The victory extended the Titans lead over the Tomahawks by three points in the East Division standings. It also was New Jersey’s twentieth win of the season – second most in the North American Hockey League.
Defenseman Cade Penney scored at the 5:57 mark of the first period to give the Titans an early 1 – 0 lead. After a scrum along the far side boards, Jeffers picked up the loose puck and head manned it up to Nick DeSantis who skated through center ice and into the Johnstown zone. As DeSantis cut across the goal mouth, he took a shot that was saved by Tomahawks netminder Alex Tracy, but Penney was on the doorstep and tucked in the rebound for his first ever NAHL goal.
After back-and-forth action throughout, the Tomahawks tied the game with 1:18 left in the second period. Playing 4-on-4 hockey, Johnstown’s Bennett Stockdale brought the puck through the neutral zone and dumped it to the end boards to the right of Titans goalie Patrick Pugliese. After making a couple of reverse moves, Stockdale was able to break free from Tyler Nasca and he passed the puck to Carson Gallagher who shot it passed Pugliese to make it a 1 – 1 game.
Despite only having two goals scored through the first two periods, the third period was different, with a total of four goals hitting the back of the net.
Matthew Iasenza scored just 1:46 into the third period to give the Titans a 2 – 1. Danny Dimon picked up the loose puck in his own zone and sent a long stretch pass up to Iasenza at the Tomahawks blue line. The speedy Iasenza walked in all alone on Tracy and beat the Johnstown goalie through the five hole for his fourth goal of the season.
Johnstown’s Pavel Kharin would tie the game at two with 8:55 remaining in the third. Iasenza picked up the loose puck in his own zone along the far side boards and sent it over to Shane Haviland at the top of the near side circle. The puck went off Haviland’s stick and bounced directly to Kharin who took a wrister that beat Pugliese high, glove-side.
Jeffers then would score his fourteenth goal of the season to give the Titans a 3 – 2 lead. After Tracy make a save, the rebound went to the far side boards where Johnstown defenseman Jack Therrien kicked the puck up along the boards, but it was kept in by Dimon. The assistant captain passed it up to DeSantis who immediately the biscuit to Chris Garbe at the top of the circle. Garbe took a shot that was saved by Tracy, but Jeffers buried the rebound into the open net for eventual game winner.
With six seconds remaining in the game, Cam Gendron made a very unselfish play and passed the puck up to Mitch Machlitt who shot it into the empty net to close out the score.
Pugliese, who kept the Titans in the game, stopped 35 of 37 shots while Tracy turned aside 21 of 24. Click here for the box score.
The two teams will conclude their mini four game series next weekend with two games being played at the Middletown Sports Complex. Friday night’s game is ugly sweater night while Saturday’s game is the Titans annual teddy bear toss with donations going to the Ronald McDonald House of Central and Northern New Jersey.