The New Jersey Titans defeated the Jamestown Rebels by a score of 3-2 at Middletown Sports Complex on Friday night, tying the East Division Semi-final series at 2-2.
Zach Nazzarett tallied a pair of goals while Brandon Perrone stopped 30 of the 32 shots he faced. For the second night in a row, the Titans managed to stave off elimination and force a deciding Game 5 on Monday night at Jamestown.
“I’m proud of the guys for their push-back, their resiliency here, I thought their compete level has been excellent over the past two days and obviously there’s some positive momentum for us to build as we travel to Jamestown,” said Titans head coach Craig Doremus.
Similar to Game 3, Kyle Jeffers opened the scoring with a power-play goal in the first period. He took control of the puck on the hash marks at the far boards and ripped a pass towards the goal. The puck bounced off the skate of a Rebels defender and went past Ryan Keane, giving the Titans a 1-0 lead 11:46 into the period.
One minute and 12 seconds after Jeffers’ goal, Nazzarett doubled the lead when he pounced on a loose puck and ripped a turnaround shot five-hole, netting his first goal of the playoffs.
Nazzarett scored again at 17:25 of the second period when Mac Wiseman slid a pass from the corner to the front of the goal, where the Miami Ohio commit slammed home a one-timer. The Cheektowaga, N.Y. native scored 14 goals in the regular season but was held off the goal column until Game 4. He spoke about the confidence that his performance instilled in him moving forward.
“It was great to get the win. I kind of needed those goals just to keep going and keep the momentum going for Game 5. It’s always a nice feeling to score and help the boys out.”
The goal put the Titans ahead 3-0, which was their biggest lead of the series. Doremus spoke about Nazzarett’s performance and how he was able to find the back of the net twice in the win.
“Timely scoring there, very opportunistic. You go to the dirty areas, put pucks on net and good things happen. Zach has bought into that, not the fanciest of plays but nevertheless extremely effective,” he said.
Jamestown stormed back late in the game with two goals of their own. Sam Anzai deflected a point-shot from Alex Roy for a power-play goal, making it a 3-1 game while ending a Rebels goal drought that lasted for 131 minutes and 12 seconds. Roy cut the deficit to one when he teed up a wrist shot from the top of the left circle, going high-glove side for his third of the playoffs. The Titans managed to weather the storm, however, and knot up the series at 2-2.
Doremus also spoke about the strong play of his starting goaltender in Perrone. After getting the shutout in Game 3, the Smithtown, N.Y. native guaranteed a Game 4 victory and backed it up with 30 saves, including a sprawling stop to rob Niki Jasko at from point-blank range in the first period, making it his best save of the night.
“Brandon has been the backbone of this team over the last three years in one way or another both on and off the ice,” Doremus said of Perrone. “For him to respond and our team to rally around him, and for him to put that performance forth the last two nights is extremely rewarding as his coach, and I’m really looking forward to Monday night with Brandon in the net.”
This is the second time in three years that the Titans were able to even up a best-of-five series against the Rebels. They will look to one-up the 2017 East Division Final, however, by winning Game 5 on the road. Nazzarett expressed his confidence in the winner-take-all game.
“All the pressure is on them, being up two and then losing two in a row. I think that Game 5 has more pressure on them than us,” he said. “We just have to play our game, hopefully the bounces go our way and we just play like we did this weekend.”
Puck drop for Game 5 takes place on Monday at 7 p.m. at Northwest Arena. The game will be available for streaming on hockeytv.com.
Photo Credit: Pete MacDonald (Twitter @PMacDonald51)