The New Jersey Titans lost the first two games of the East Division Semifinal against the Jamestown Rebels this past weekend, and will head back to Middletown trailing the series 2-0.
Game 1 took place on Friday night at Northwest Arena, as the Titans fell to Jamestown by a score of 5-3. The following night, the Rebels took Game 2 by a score of 4-1 and put the Titans on the brink of elimination.
Jake Felker got things started halfway through the first period on Friday, when he ripped a sharp-angle shot past Titans goaltender Brandon Perrone. Five minutes and 40 seconds later, Niki Jasko doubled the lead by hammering a one-timer off a three-on-one rush to give Jamestown a 2-0 lead.
The Titans would take control in the second period, as Chris Garbe got one back in the opening minute of the middle frame. Josef Glamos slid a pass across the crease, and the Brown commit buried his team’s first goal of the playoffs and cut the deficit in half.
Jimmy Glynn restored Jamestown’s two-goal lead when he stuffed home a rebound at 13:38, but the Titans responded with two more goals before the end of the period. Spencer Stanley flung a wrist shot from the top of the right circle and past Rebels’ goaltender Ryan Keane right before the net was knocked off its moorings at 15:06. Two minutes and 51 seconds later, Kyler Head scored on a wrister from just inside the blue line to make it a 3-3 game.
Jamestown took over in the final period and took the lead at 6:40 when Alex Roy took a wrister from the blue line that found its way through traffic and past Perrone. The Rebels added an insurance marker at 11:25 when Jimmy Glynn buried his second goal of the game. Keane only had to make five saves in the third period as the Rebels cruised to a 5-3 victory.
Game 2 appeared to fare better for the Titans when they managed to take a 1-0 lead at 7:45 of the first period. Ryan Naumovski took a shot from the blue line, and Gavin Gulash punched home the rebound for a power-play goal, giving the Titans its first lead of the series.
The lead was short-lived, however, when the Rebels responded with a power-play goal at 16:41. Colin Schmidt ripped a one-timer from the top of the left circle and went high-glove side for his first goal of the playoffs. In the second period, Alex Frye scored twice in a span of three minutes and 16 seconds while Antonio Venuto added a goal to give the Rebels a 4-1 lead. Noah West was perfect the rest of the way and finished the night with 26 saves, helping the Rebels gain a 2-0 series lead.
Titans head coach Craig Doremus offered his assessment of the team’s play and where they fell short in Games 1 and 2.
“I didn’t think we were nearly physical enough. We need to make a consistent decision to finish our hits,” Doremus said. “I also don’t think we put pucks on net. We got cute at times and tried to do too much, but we need to get pucks to the net in order to create second and third opportunities.”
While falling into an 0-2 hole, the Titans find themselves in a familiar position. In the 2017 postseason, they faced the Rebels (located in Aston, Penn. at the time) in the East Division Final. After losing the first two games on the road, the Titans managed to win both home games and force a decisive Game 5. Doremus spoke about the team’s mentality as the current series shifts back to Middletown this Friday.
“I have a strong belief in our hockey club. We have faced adversity head on all season. Our focus is winning game three and game three only right now. Shift by shift, period by period. Just what we can control.”
Game 3 will take place this Friday at Middletown Sports Complex with a 7:05 p.m. puck drop. All fans are welcome to a tailgating party that starts two hours prior, and the game will be available for streaming on hockeytv.com.