The New Jersey Titans lost their home opener to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights by a score of 5-3 on Saturday night.
Jack Olmstead led the Knights with two goals in the first 2:53 of the game and an additional goal for the hat trick, as they start the season with a 2-0 record while the Titans are now 0-1-1.
Head coach Craig Doremus said it was disappointing to get off to a slow start in front of the home fans, who packed the Middletown Sports Complex to support the Titans in their first home game of the season.
“You want to give the home fans something to cheer about, and our guys weren’t prepared enough to do that,” he said. “But that falls on myself as the coach of the team and our staff. Ultimately we ended up digging a grave that we couldn’t get out of.”
Titans captain Tyler Antonucci said the team stayed positive after falling behind 2-0 and stuck with the game plan. Just 16 seconds after Olmstead’s second goal, Hunter Alden scored on a rebound from Nick Boyagian’s shot and cut the deficit in half.
“We just had to keep everything intact and make sure we’re doing the little things right. After the first two goals, we knew we needed the next one, and that’s exactly what we did,” he said.
Carrying momentum into the second period, Tiernan Seningen evened the score 52 seconds in with a shot that beat the Knights’ goaltender, Kevin Lake, glove side.
The tie didn’t last long however, as Olmstead scored his third goal of the game just 48 seconds after Seningen’s. Tyrone Bronte tacked on another goal for the Knights near the end of the period.
The Titans attempted another comeback in the third period, and Matthew Headland reduced the deficit with a goal 3:44 into the period. It wasn’t enough as Lake held down the fort with 37 saves in the game while Curtis Carlson scored an empty netter to seal the victory.
While the Titans never gave up, Doremus said there is work to be done before the upcoming NAHL showcase in Blaine, Minn.
“I think at times, the effort was there. But with some of the mistakes we made physically and mentally, and until we address those, we’re going to face an uphill battle,” Doremus said.
The next Titans game is on Sept. 20 when they face off against the defending Robertson Cup champion Lone Star Brahmas in the showcase. Their next home game will be on Oct. 20 when they host the Northeast Generals.