The New Jersey Titans ended 2018 on a rough note, as they lost to the Northeast Generals by a score of 8-1 at Middletown Sports Complex on Saturday night.
Bryce Witman scored the lone goal for the Titans, and starting goaltender Ryan Winter was pulled after giving up four goals on nine shots. Brandon Perrone made 28 saves on 32 shots after coming in for relief.
The Titans, who are now 18-15-0 heading into the holiday break, have not won a back-to-back since early November. Head coach Craig Doremus spoke about his team’s struggles on the second end of a weekend series.
“It’s a failure to prepare and be ready to go for the second game in a back-to-back weekend. Unfortunately we were not able to make an adjustment, whether it’s our preparation prior to games, adjustments in games or failure to execute on back-to-back nights. We’re just not good enough right now,” he said.
Kyle Gierman opened the scoring at 9:49 of the first period on a redirection, picking up his fourth goal of the season. Later in the period, Arrel Naus scored a pair of goals in a span of 36 seconds to extend the lead. Gavin Gulash took a penalty at the very end of the period, and Ryan Rowland converted on the power play 58 seconds into the middle period, marking the end of Winter’s night.
Things appeared to be looking up for the Titans after the fourth goal. They started controlling the play and kept the puck in the Generals’ zone. Witman’s goal at 13:03 of the second period seemed to inject some energy into the Middletown crowd.
A minute later, Kyler Head and Ryan Bogan got into a scrap that resulted in a five-minute power play for the Generals. Svet Kuchynski subsequently scored two power-play goals in a span of 35 seconds, giving Northeast a 6-1 lead after two periods.
“They get two goals on the five-minute major, it takes away any momentum we had, but at the end of the day I can’t sit here and take full blame for it. I think it was a poor job on making the call that led to that and unfortunately it ended up biting our team in the butt,” Doremus said of the major penalty assessed to Head.
Eric Manoukian also weighed in on the second period, noting that the gritty forward tried to provide another spark for the Titans.
“It was good to see Kyler step up for the team and try to get some energy going, but it was unfortunate for the team to be down for five minutes because of. We let up two goals in the first minute of the kill, but I wouldn’t say it was a turning point since we were already down 4-1,” he said.
Connor Marshall and Gierman rounded out the scoring in the third period as the Generals cruised to an 8-1 and snapped a three-game losing streak. The Titans, who remain third in the East Division, will take the next two weeks off for the holidays before returning to action against the Generals. Manoukian said it’s a good opportunity for the team to mentally reset before continuing the second half of the season.
“We told the boys to just stay away from the game. Don’t think about it, just think about family and friends, spend time with them and enjoy the holidays,” he said. “After New Years, come back and start thinking about hockey and the workouts. But we need a break, we haven’t had one since August, so we just have to relax our minds for a little bit.”
Doremus echoed Manoukian’s sentiments, saying that the team has struggled for the last few weeks and will have to reflect during the much-needed break before returning to action on January 12.
“It starts with me and it filters down to all the players,” he said. “We need to be better, and if this is going to be a season full of promise, there definitely needs to be adjustments made before we start the second half of the season.”
Photo Credit: Pete MacDonald (@PMacDonald51)