Titans fall to Black Bears 5 – 4 in seesaw game

The visiting New Jersey Titans fell to the Maryland Black Bears 5 – 4 last night. Despite the loss, the Titans were able to split the weekend series between the teams.

Maryland scored just :57 into the game to take an early lead, and the live boards at Ice World played a factor again in the game but this time in Maryland’s favor (Jack Ring scored a goal off the boards in the Titans Friday night victory). With the Black Bears pressuring in the offensive zone, Maryland’s forward Reid Leibold had the puck at the at the half wall along the far side boards. He passed it over to Daniel Colabufo at the top of the slot and Colabufo took a shot that went high and wide of the net, but the puck bounced off the end boards and immediately came out in front of the New Jersey cage and Grady Friedman tucked in the loose biscuit passed a surprised Berk Berkeliev to give Maryland a 1 – 0 lead.

The Titans tied the game at one as a power play had just ended. As the penalty kill was winding down, Maryland dumped the puck deep inside the Titans zone where it was retrieved and set up by Berkeliev who passed it up to Nick Seitz on his right. Seitz passed the puck out to Blake Humphrey just outside the nearside center ice faceoff circle, and Humphrey poked the puck to Stephen Willey outside the Black Bears zone. As Willey gained the line, he took a shot that beat Black Bear goalie Karsten Bourgoine long side to make it a 1 – 1 game just 3:15 into the contest.

Midway through the first Friedman scored his second goal of the game to give Maryland the lead. After a turnover deep inside the Titans zone, the puck went back to the Black Bears Sean Kilcullen at the near side point. Kilcullen took a shot that was blocked by Connor Pelc but the puck immediately came back to Kilcullen and he took a shot that was redirected by Friedman out front and past Berkeliev for his third goal of the season.

With 6:39 left in the first, Maryland’s Thomas Jarman was called for cross-checking to give the Titans the man advantage. As time was winding down on the power play and the looking to set up, Levente Keresztes had the puck at the top of the far side faceoff circle and he passed it back to Anthony Mollica at the point. Mollica passed it down low to Jake Suede who took a low, backhanded shot that beat Bourgoine through the five hole to tie the game at two.

Liebold was called for slashing at 1:07 into the second period to give the Titans the extra attacker. With the man advantage about to expire, Jake LaRusso picked up the loose puck behind the Black Bears net and he passed it to Evan Werner in the near side corner. Werner skated up along the boards and sent a pass to Caleb Price at the point. Price sent a return pass back to Werner who took a shot that beat Bourgoine top shelf to give the Titans their first lead of the game. It was Werner’s third goal in the series.

The Black Bears then proceeded to score two goals to close out the second period. After Maryland won the draw deep inside the Titans zone, the puck went back to Kevin Stock at the near side point. Stock dumped down low to Hunter McCoy at the end boards and McCoy sent a pass behind the Titans net to Luke Mountain in the far side corner. Mountain sent the puck to Tanner Rowe at the top of the faceoff circle and Rowe took a shot that beat Berkeliev short side to tie the game at three with 5:20 left in the period.

Maryland then took the lead with three seconds remaining in the middle stanza. As the period was about the expire, Garrett Szydlowski brought the puck out of his own zone and made a bounce pass off the near side boards to Josh Nixon. As Nixon reached the top of the faceoff circle he centered the puck out front to Szydlowski who backhanded a shot past Berkeliev to make it a 4 – 3 game.

Price tied the game at four with 7:45 remaining in the third. After Price retrieved a Maryland clearing pass at the top of his own far side faceoff circle, he sent the puck to Austin Cook who immediately passed it up to Seitz. As Seitz gained the line, he started to skate towards the far side boards and sent a pass back to Price who took a shot that beat Bourgoine long side for his first goal of the year.

Jude Kurtas scored a breakaway goal with 3:58 left in the game to give the Black Bears the lead for good.

Berkeliev stopped 19 of 24 shots while Bourgoine turned aside 39 of 43. Click here for the box score.

The Titans are tentatively scheduled to play the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks next weekend, but the schedule may change.