The New Jersey Titans closed out the calendar year of 2017 with a 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Rebels Wednesday night at Middletown Ice World.
Todd Goehring recorded a goal and an assist while Brandon Perrone stopped 27 of 28 shots to improve the Titans’ record to 15-12-2. It was only the ninth home game for New Jersey, and head coach Craig Doremus praised his team for taking advantage of home ice.
“With so many games on the horizon at home in the second half, I think it’s important that we establish an identity here. Full credit to our players that they were able to stay focused on the task at hand,” he said.
Kyle Jeffers finished a beautiful passing play that put the Titans ahead at 2:30 of the first period. Todd Goehring dished the puck to Spencer Stanley, who found Jeffers on a cross-ice pass for the tap-in. It was Jeffers’ eighth goal of the season and Stanley’s sixth assist.
Joining Goehring and Jeffers on that first line was Kyler Head, who played in his first home game since returning to the Titans after starting the season in USHL. Doremus spoke about Head’s game, as he continues to improve his play since returning to New Jersey.
“What you saw tonight was the Kyler Head we know of well with the Titans. I thought he got back to his type of game and his identity, and then you can see the skill set he’s added since then. His hands and his poise were very good tonight, his pace was much better and his compete level is always there,” he said.
The Rebels evened the score on the power play with a goal from Eric Olson. A shot from the point was stopped by Perrone, and Aaron Maguyon hit the post off the rebound. The puck sat in the crease where Olson buried his fourth goal of the season.
Later in the period, Peter Zhong and Kolby Vegara took penalties 24 seconds apart to give the Titans a lengthy five-on-three power play. Hunter Alden ripped a pass with pin-point accuracy to the stick of Goehring, who slammed a one-timer past Keane to give New Jersey a 2-1 lead.
“It definitely felt good,” Goehring said of his two-point night. “I’ve been a little snake bitten lately, so it felt good to get that assist early on in the game, then I was able to get a goal too on the power play.”
Philadelphia picked up the pace in the second period but were unable to get anything by Perrone. His best save came on a Rebels’ power play where Bryant Gunn ripped a one-timer from the right faceoff circle. Perrone slid across with the pads stacked and snatched the puck out of the air with his glove for the save.
“We know they’re a really good team who take pride in their puck possession,” Perrone said of the Rebels’ offense. “But our d-zone, we did a good job of keeping them to the outside and had some big blocks.”
The Titans got an insurance goal just 20 seconds into the third period. Tate Singleton set up Matthew Cameron for a mini breakaway as he ripped a shot past Keane’s blocker for his eighth goal of the season. Six minutes later, Andrew Husted disrupted a pass in his own zone, broke up the ice and took a shot that trickled underneath Keane’s pad. The Rebels were unable to generate much offense after that, as the Titans cruised the rest of the period to a 4-1 victory.
New Jersey now leads Philadelphia in the season series with a record of 3-2-0. It was the first time Philadelphia played in Middletown this season, and the two teams will face each other again on January 15 at the Class of 1923 Arena. Doremus reiterated how important it was to win the final game of 2017, as he hopes the team can carry that momentum into the second half of the season.
“I know they’re excited to get back home, spend some time with friends and family. I’m happy for them and obviously they go into the break with a good taste in their mouth,” he said.
Correction: The goal by Kyle Jeffers was assisted by Spencer Stanley and Todd Goehring.