The visiting Maryland Black Bears scored three unanswered goals and overcome a 2 – 0 deficit to defeat the Titans 3 – 2 in New Jersey’s home opener.
Jake LaRusso got the Red Buckets on the board first at 4:21 into the opening period. The Colts Neck, NJ native picked up the loose puck atop his own nearside faceoff dot and carried it through center ice and into the offensive zone. As he gained the line on a two-on-one with Hunter Newhouse, LaRusso took a wrist shot from the slot that beat Black Bears goalie Michael Morelli long side to give the Titans a 1 – 0 lead.
The Titans doubled their lead on Tommy Bannister’s sixth goal of the season at 8:54 into the first period. Anthony Calafiore picked up the loose puck just outside his own zone passed it up to Brendan Dumas who as skating along the nearside boards. As Dumas reached the top of the circle, he made a nice cross-ice spin pass to Bannister in the slot and the Clayton, NY native wristed the puck past Morelli and into the net to make it a 2 – 0 game.
Philip Tornqvist cut the Black Bears deficit in half with 7:28 remaining in the opening period. Playing 5 on 3 inside the Titans zone, Maryland’s Ryan Bottrill won the draw deep inside the offensive zone and the puck went back to Luke Van Why at the circle. Van Why skated towards the top of the slot, turned and passed the puck back to Tornqvist at the top of the faceoff circle and Tornqvist took a one-timer that beat Titans’ goaltender Andrew Takacs high, short side to make it 2 – 1.
Maryland’s Dylan Wagner tied the game with 7:41 remaining in the middle stanza. With the puck along the far side boards in the New Jersey zone, a Titans defenseman made an errant pass out front that was intercepted by Wagner who redirected the puck past Takacs for his second goal of the game.
The Black Bears took the lead with 2:21left in the period. With Maryland pressuring in the zone and peppering Takacs with shots, Bottrill took a shot on net and the rebound came out to Vlad Polegoshko who wristed into the open net to close out the scoring and give the Black Bears a 3 – 2 win.
Takacs stopped 39 of 42 shots while Morelli turned aside 25 of 27. Click here for the box score.
The Titans will resume play next weekend for a two-game series against the Johnstown Tomahawks.