Max Neill scored two goals to lead the visiting Johnstown Tomahawks to a 6 – 3 win over the New Jersey Titans enabling the teams to split their weekend series. The lost ended the Titans two game winning streak.
Johnstown’s Liam Whitehouse was called for cross-checking at 5:15 into the opening period to give the Titans the man advantage. Thirty-one seconds later Evan Werner scored his team high thirteen goal of the season. Caleb Price set up the play behind his own net and passed it up to Blake Humphry along the far side boards. Humphry skated through center ice and into the Tomahawks zone. As he gained the line, he passed it to Nick Seitz on his left. Seitz made a center pass to Werner who took a shot that was saved by Johnstown netminder Peyton Grainer, but the rebound came right back to Werner and beat Grainer through the five hole to give the Titans a 1 – 0 lead.
Eight seconds later the Tomahawks Jay Ahearn tied it. After the ensuing faceoff, Johnstown’s Caden Lewandowski dumbed the puck into the Titans near side corner where it was picked up by Ahearn. Ahearn threw a centering pass out front, but the puck was inadvertently tipped by Price and redirected past Berk Berkeliev to make it a 1 – 1 game.
Neill scored his first goal with 5:58 left in the first on a Michigan. With play inside the Tomahawks zone along the far side boards, Johnstown’s Jared Gerger sent a bounce pass off the boards that went up high and bounced into the Titans zone. Neill outskated the Titans defenders. As he reached the crease, Neill made a “Michigan” move that Berkeliev got a piece of but it trickled off his glove and into the back of the net to give the visitors a 2 – 1 lead.
Neill gave the Tomahawks a two-goal lead with 9:10 left in the second period. After the Tomahawks won the draw deep inside their zone, the puck went behind the net where it was picked up by Ryan Poorman. Poorman dumped the biscuit into the Titans zone as Tyler Nasca and Neill battled for it. As Nasca was shoving Poorman to the near side corner, Poorman threw the puck on net and it handcuffed Berkeliev and the puck slid between Berkeliev’s pads into the net to make it 3 – 1.
Johnstown went up 4 – 1 with 3:59 left in the middle stanza. Poorman picked up the loose puck in his own near side corner have Brendan Clark won the draw in his own zone. Poorman sent a bounce pass off the boards out to John Gelett. As Gelett skated out of the Johnstown zone, he passed the puck to Clark at center ice. As Clark skated to the top of the far side faceoff circle in the Titans end, the threw a centering pass out front to Ahearn who redirected it past Berkeliev high for his eleventh goal of the season.
With 1:36 left in the period, Matthew Iasenza was called for tripping to give the Tomahawks the man advantage. Eleven seconds later Jack Ford cut the Titans deficit in half. After the ensuing faceoff inside the New Jersey zone, Lewandowski picked up the loose puck along the far side boards and made a blind centering pass that was intercepted by Stephen Willey. Willey and Ford entered the Tomahawks zone on a two-on-one and Willey touch passed the puck to Ford on his right. As Ford reached the far side faceoff circle, he took a wrist shot that beat Grainer long side for his third goal of the year.
Johnstown added two more goals in the third and Connor Pelc scored his first goal as a Titan with 2:58 left in play to close out the scoring.
Berkeliev stopped 25 of 31 shots while Grainer turned aside 28 of 31. Click here for the box score.
Originally scheduled to play next weekend in Attleboro, MA against the Northeast Generals, the Generals will “host” the Titans at the Middletown Sports Complex on Saturday, January 23 at 8:45 PM and on Sunday, January 24 at 6:15 PM.