Nolan Barrett scored a power play goal 1:42 in overtime to lift the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks to a 3 – 2 win over the visiting New Jersey Titans in the season opener for both teams. It was the Jr. Hat Tricks first ever North American Hockey League franchise victory.
Despite the loss, Titans goaltender Berk Berkeliev was outstanding between the pipes for the Red Buckets
As to be expected, the first period had its ups and downs for both teams with nervousness and jitters but also some physicality. For the Titans, it was the first time the young team had ever played together in a game situation leading up to the season opener (Danbury had played two pre-season contests against the Northeast Generals).
The Jr. Hat Tricks opened the scoring with 1:50 remining in the first period. Danbury’s Hank McDonough intercepted a Titans centering pass in the slot and skated the puck towards his own near side half wall. He went to clear the biscuit, but it hit a gaggle of players at the blueline where it was picked up by Hunter McCurdy. The Jr. Hat Tricks defenseman carried the puck through center ice and into the Titans zone. As he skated towards the high slot, McCurdy took a wrist shot that appeared to be deflected and beat a surprised Berkeliev to give Danbury a 1 – 0 lead.
With 1:10 remaining in the opening period, the Titans went on the power play. Fifty-one seconds later Jake LaRusso knotted the score.
LaRusso picked up the loose puck at the top of the slot and skated towards the far side half wall and around the Danbury net and passed it back to Matt Doyle at the point. Doyle sent the puck down low to Harrison Bazianos who centered it out front to LaRusso. The Colts Neck, NJ native took a high shot that was punched by Danbury’s Kyle Gudme and into his own net to make it a 1 – 1 game.
Joe Shubert gave the Titans the lead with forty-one seconds remaining in the middle stanza. Nick Seitz picked up the loose puck in the corner and brought in back up along the near side boards and skated towards the slot. Seitz took a shot that was saved by Danbury’s Joshua Seeley and he made a successive save on Titans forward Danny Cavanagh but the rebound came out to Shubert who lifted the puck into the open net to put New Jersey ahead 2 – 1.
The Jr. Hat Tricks Alex Krause tied the game at two just thirty-eight seconds into the third period. After Danbury won the draw deep inside the Titans zone, the puck was picked up by the Hat Tricks’ Shea Courtmanche in the far side corner. He passed it back to Spencer Evans at the point who took a shot on net that was redirected by Krause past Berkeliev for his first goal of the season.
With the game tied at two after regulation, the game went into overtime where the teams would play four-on-four hockey. However, 1:18 into the extra session, Titans defenseman Max Bronstine was called for tripping to give the Jr. Hat Tricks the man advantage. After Valentino Passarelli took a shot that went wide of Berkeliev, the puck wrapped around the near side boards where it was picked up Cody Hoban at point. Hoban passed it over to Barrett on his left and Barrett took a shot from the top of the faceoff circle that found its way through a screen and past Berkeliev to give Danbury the win.
“I think it was a good experience for our hockey team” stated Titans head coach Craig Doremus. “Without a preseason to really evaluate and work on some details it was good to measure ourselves a bit against some quality opponents. We are eager to grow and learn from tonight and get back at it” concluded Doremus.
The Titans will look to split this two-game series when the teams meet again tonight at the Danbury Ice Arena at 7:05 PM