The New Jersey Titans were able to fend off elimination on Friday night with a 2-0 victory over the Jamestown Rebels at Middletown Sports Complex.
Brandon Perrone stopped all 37 shots he faced for his first playoff shutout while Kyle Jeffers and Chris Garbe scored for the Titans, cutting the series deficit to 2-1.
“It just proves the guys’ character, no matter our situation we’re going to compete,” Perrone said of the win. “In the Robertson Cup there’s going to be ups and downs, and it just proves that we’re going to be one of the teams that’s resilient.”
Head coach Craig Doremus spoke about the team effort and what it means to finally get on the win column in the East Division Semi-Final.
“Any time you win it’s momentum building and creates a positive feeling in the locker room and a belief that you can win. That’s the biggest thing heading into a series, getting the one and it gives you that belief.”
In the opening minutes of Game 2, Nick Stuckless went to the box for kneeing, sending the Titans on its first power play. Kyle Jeffers completed a give-and-go with Josef Glamos on a three-on-two rush, and slid a backhander into an open net past Ryan Keane for his first goal of the playoffs.
New Jersey had a few chances in the second period, including a five-on-three for a minute and 21 seconds, but they were unable to extend the lead. Keane’s best save came off a Titans four-on-two rush where they executed tic-tac-toe passing to set up Ryan Naumovski for a tap-in at the top of the crease. The Texas native made another big save a minute later when Cam Gendron ripped a low shot off a two-on-one rush, and poked away the puck before Mitch Machlitt could find the rebound.
As the second period was winding down, Gavin Gulash took a slashing penalty that was followed by a four-minute double minor by Brody Medeiros for high-sticking, resulting in a brief five-on-three power play for the Rebels that carried over into the third period.
The Titans were able to kill off the brief five-on-three without much trouble, but Danny Dimon took a high-sticking penalty with 2:17 to go on Medeiros’ double minor, giving the Rebels a full two-minute five-on-three power play.
Jamestown managed to set up a shooting gallery as they kept firing pucks on net, but Ryan Naumovski came up big with a couple of blocked shots while Perrone stopped any pucks that went through traffic. His best save came midway though the five-on-three when a pass from the corner went to a wide-open Antonio Venuto at the top of the crease. Perrone managed to push to the far post and made a tremendous pad save to keep the Rebels off the board.
“It’s a lot of preparation that goes into those situations from a tactical standpoint. Bobby (DiRico) and the PK crew has done an excellent job throughout the year preparing for our opponents and putting in an effective game plan and executing,” Doremus said about the special teams. “And let’s make no mistake about this, you could do all you but at the end of the day your best penalty killer is your goalie and he was our best player tonight no doubt about it.”
Perrone, meanwhile, credited the players in front of him for limiting the amount of shots he faced. “We blocked a lot of shots, Ryan Naumovski especially, but a great kill there by everybody. It’s a whole team effort on a five-on-three,” he said.
Chris Garbe picked up a huge insurance goal at 12:41 of the third period. Josef Glamos intercepted a pass along the far boards and slid a pass to the slot, where the Brown commit hammered home a one-timer to give the Titans a 2-0 lead. It was Garbe’s second goal of the playoffs, and Glamos’ second assist of the game.
“You love scoring goals in the playoffs in big times like this, and for those guys to finish those off there were pretty nice goals,” Glamos said of his assists. “I’m glad I can put the puck on goal-scorers’ sticks like Jeffers and Garbe, they make them pretty easy assists for me.”
After the game, Doremus also spoke about the physicality he saw from the skaters. He had emphasized that aspect of the game throughout the week in practice, and he said the team was able to answer the call for a full 60 minutes on Friday night.
“I thought we did it in spurts in Games 1 and 2, and when we did we played well and competed. It was something we wanted to focus on from a 60-minute standpoint, I thought the guys bought in and executed well today and obviously the results speak for themselves,” Doremus said.
Game 4 will take place tonight at Middletown Sports Complex with a 7:05 p.m. puck drop. Once again, it’s do-or-die for the Titans as they look to fend off elimination and force a Game 5. Coming off the 37-save shutout in Game 3, Perrone made the assertion that the series will head back to Jamestown for the deciding game.
“We’re going to win Game 4 tomorrow, take it from there and win Game 5. I have full confidence in this team.”
Photo Credit: Pete MacDonald (Twitter: @PMacDonald51)