Titans fall to Black Bears 4 – 2 in season opener

The visiting New Jersey Titans began their defense of the Robertson Cup title with a 4 – 2 loss to the Maryland Black Bears at Piney Orchard Arena last night. It was the first game of the 2022-23 season for each team.

The Titans opened the scoring just twelve seconds into the game when rookie Ryan Novo scored his first NAHL goal. After the opening faceoff was won by Levente Keresztes, the puck went to the far side boards where is was picked up by Eric Charpentier who dumped it deep into the Maryland zone. As Black Bears goalie William Hakansson went to play the puck behind his own net, he lost his balance and fell but a Maryland defender picked up the loose puck and went to clear it but the biscuit was intercepted by Charpentier at the point. The Silver Spring, MD native took a wrist shot on net that was redirected by Novo in the slot and into the empty cage to give the Titans an early lead.

The Black Bears then scored three consecutive goals to take control of the game, with the first two coming in the opening period just a minute apart.

Just nineteen seconds later, Maryland’s Jesse Horacek knotted the score at one. With play behind the Titans net, Brendan Dumas brought the puck around the cage and started to skate towards the near side faceoff circle. As Dumas reached the dot, he made a cross-ice pass to Charpentier at the blue line. The Dartmouth commit was knocked off the biscuit by Maryland’s Christian Catalano at the boards and the loose puck was picked up by Jesse Horacek. Horacek raced into the Titans zone along the far side boards and cut towards the middle. As Horacek reached the faceoff dot, he took a wrist that that went through Titans netminder Ben Charette’s five hole and rolled into the net to tie the game at one.

Less than a minute later the Black Bears took the lead for good. After Charette made a leg pad save, the rebound was picked up in the near side corner by Catalano. As Catalano brought the puck back towards the point, he cut towards the center and took a wrist shot that was redirected by Brad McNeil in the slot and past Charette to give Maryland a 2 – 1 lead.

Midway through the middle stanza, Reece Brednich was called for slashing to put Maryland on powerplay. With forty seconds left in the man advantage, the Black Bears doubled their lead. With play in the Titans zone, the puck slid across the slot and was picked up by Maryland’s Leo Schwartz at the near side faceoff dot. Schwartz passed the biscuit down low to Quinn Kennedy at end wall. Kennedy made a nice, backhanded pass to Dimitry Kebreau who skated behind and around the Red Buckets net. As Kebreau reached the goal line, he passed the puck to Elliott Lareau in the slot, and Lareau took a quick slot that beat Charette to make it a 3 – 1 game.

With 1:12 remaining in the second, Ben Muthersbaugh scored his first NAHL goal to bring the Titans within one. After the Black Bears dumped the puck deep into the offensive zone, it was retrieved by Charette who immediately made a shuttle pass to Charpentier. Charpentier veered towards his left and made a long stretch pass to Muthersbaugh waiting just outside the Maryland zone. As Muthersbaugh gained the line along the near side boards, he cut around one defender and took a shot from the faceoff dot and beat Hakansson high glove slide to make it 3 – 2.

Maryland put the game out of reach when Hunter Ramos scored 3:10 into the final period to close out the scoring and make it a 4 – 2 game.

Charette stopped 30 of 34 shots in defeat while Hakansson turned aside 22 of 24. Click here for the box score.

The teams will close out their two-game series tonight at 7:30PM at Piney Orchard Arena.