The New Jersey Titans gave up three second-period goals in a 5-3 loss to the Johnstown Tomahawks, suffering a weekend sweep at Middletown Sports Complex Saturday night.
Ryan Naumovski picked up two power-play goals while Kyle Jeffers scored his fifth goal of the season, but Oliver Benwell’s three-point night paced the Tomahawks’ high-octane offense for its third consecutive victory. The Titans suffered its third consecutive loss and now has a 4-4-0 record.
Pavel Kharin opened the scoring for Johnstown at 2:42 of the first period, but Naumovski responded at the halfway point with his first power play goal. Spencer Stanley ripped a one-timer that bounced off the end boards and right to Naumovski’s stick, as he cashed in on a five-on-three power play.
The tug of war continued in the second period as Benwell scored on the man advantage at 3:07, while Naumovski scored his second power-play goal at 5:29 with a deflection in front of the Tomahawks’ goal.
“It’s a long time coming, the power play finally comes to life,” said Titans head coach Craig Doremus. “Even on some of the opportunities where they didn’t score goals, there were still some good looks.”
The penalty kill was a different story; a minute and 11 seconds after Naumovski’s second goal, Carson Briere scored on the power play to give Johnstown a 3-2 lead. Bennett Stockdale added a goal with 25 seconds remaining in the middle period with a long-distance wrist shot that went off the post and in.
Kyle Jeffers made it a 4-3 game midway through the third period, but Johnstown responded just 27 seconds later with Benwell’s second of the night, giving the Tomahawks a two-goal lead. Doremus spoke about his team’s inability to maintain momentum after scoring a goal.
“That’s a part of the growing process. You have opportunities to get yourself back in the game and you shoot yourself in the foot with self-inflicted errors and they end up in the back of your net. It’s hard to win hockey games that way,” he said.
The Titans still sit in second place with a 4-4-0 record, one point ahead of the newly-formed Maryland Black Bears. Naumovski spoke after the game about the Titans’ performance, and how they will look to bounce back in a home-and-home against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights.
“We’re going to have to compete and get our legs back into it. Hopefully our power play and penalty kill will be up to par the whole weekend and we bury our chances,” he said.
The home-and-home starts in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Friday Oct 5, and will conclude the following night at Middletown Sports Complex with a 7 p.m. puck drop on both nights. The games will be streamed on hockeytv.com