Aaron Maguyon scored the overtime winner as the Philadelphia Rebels defeated the New Jersey Titans, 4-3, at Middletown Sports Complex on Wednesday night.
The Titans (20-15-5) had a 3-0 lead in the second period, but the Rebels (30-10-3) managed to score four unanswered goals to walk away with the victory. While New Jersey has points in its last six games (3-0-3), it was the second consecutive game they lost in overtime.
“These are the worst kind of games to lose. Both times we’ve played the Rebels, we had a lead, then blew the lead which is frustrating,” said Titans goaltender Brandon Perrone, who made 41 saves in the losing effort. “You get the extra point in overtime, and those points are going to haunt us in the end, so it’s tough thing to be a part of.”
Eli Billing made 29 saves to secure the Rebels’ 30th win of the season. He was sharp early, and stopped a breakaway from Matthew Cameron, who tried shooting the puck glove-side but was unable to get it past Billing. The Titans eventually broke through when Chris Garbe walked down the middle of the ice and ripped a shot off the crossbar and in for his third goal of the season.
The Titans cushioned their lead in the second period with two goals in a span of 40 seconds. At 6:28 of the period, Hunter Alden slid the puck across the Rebels’ crease, where Holden Biebel slammed the puck into the open net for his first goal as a Titan.
Biebel said that his goal was a special moment because Alden–who happens to be his roommate–was the player who set up the goal.
“I just rushed up and joined the play, and my roommate Hunter Alden found me back door, so it was a great effort by Hunter. But I just love playing with those guys and was fortunate enough to get my first goal,” Biebel said.
Shortly after Biebel’s goal, Tyler Antonucci slid a pass to Cameron in the low slot, as he slipped a backhander over Billing’s blocker for his 17th goal of the season.
The Rebels responded quickly, as Eric Olson scored 22 seconds after Cameron’s goal. He took the puck from the corner and drove the net, sliding a shot under Perrone for his seventh of the season.
Philadelphia controlled the pace for much of the third period, and it paid off at 2:34 when Brandon Stanley deflected a shot from the point for his 11th of the season. Rebels captain Ryan Patrick knotted the score at 13:57 when he took a sharp-angle shot that went in short side, picking up his 15th goal.
For the second time in a week, the Titans and Rebels went beyond regulation and into three-on-three overtime. Each team traded scoring chances, but it was Maguyon who took the puck from his own end and skated past the Titans’ defenders. Perrone made a diving play out of his crease to try and knock the puck away from Maguyon, but he maintained possession and slid a shot into the open net for the overtime winner.
“I saw that (Matt Cameron) was on him hard as well as Jimmy (Dowd), and I saw his head was down at the last second. It was such a fast play that I thought I could get out; I got a piece but the puck went right back to him and he scored,” Perrone said of the play.
Titans head coach Craig Doremus spoke about his team’s inability to close out their last two games against the Rebels.
“The most frustrating part of the last two contests was that we had leads in the third period in both and were unable to finish the job,” Doremus said. “I thought we got thoroughly outworked, outexecuted in the third period, and while the game was ultimately decided in overtime, but to me it was decided in the third period. We were hanging on for dear life and that’s not a way to play hockey, and certainly not a winning style of play.”
New Jersey did have a few opportunities to further widen the lead throughout the game. Shortly after Biebel scored in the second period, he launched a rocket from the point that slammed off the right post. When they were leading 3-2 in the third period, Spencer Stanley ripped a one-timer from the slot but also hit the iron.
“When you work hard and you win and compete, you tend to get what they call ‘puck luck.’ When things aren’t going your way, you just feel like you’re a bounce away from possibly getting it,” Doremus said.
The Titans will start a string of three games in as many days on Saturday. They’ll host the Generals on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, before travelling back to Philadelphia for a Monday afternoon contest. New Jersey sits behind the Northeast in the standings by three points, but have three games in hand.
Perrone spoke about the team’s six-game point streak as well as the team’s desire to string together more wins and climb up the standings.
“It’s always good to know that we haven’t lost our last six in regulation, but the mood in the locker room is we’re not satisfied with it. We want regulation wins,” he said.