The New Jersey Titans entered the third period with a 3-0 lead against the Odessa Jackalopes, but gave up four goals in the final 12 minutes and 37 seconds in a 4-3 loss in their second game of the NAHL Showcase on Thursday.
It was the first loss for the Titans, who are now 3-1-0, but it was the second consecutive game they relinquished a three-goal lead. Brandon Perrone looked solid in the first two periods by stopping all 26 shots he faced. The Jackalopes responded by doubling its shot total in the third, with four of those 26 shots going past Perrone to give him the loss.
Head coach Craig Doremus expressed his disappointment in the result, but said his team ultimately needs to move on.
“The biggest takeaway is that we clearly didn’t learn from the blown lead on Wednesday. The mental and physical errors need to be addressed and more importantly corrected,” he said. “With our relatively young roster, we just need to watch film, have meetings and continue to play games and learn on the fly.”
New Jersey struck first after Perrone made a point-blank save on a tap-in attempt by Kyle Herbster. Brody Medeiros went the other way on the left side and took a backhanded shot, allowing Kyle Jeffers to put away the rebound at 16:48 of the first period
The Titans appeared to take control of the game in the second period when they struck twice in the span of 46 seconds. Following a tie-up in the corner, Evan Shoemaker slid a pass to Jeffers at the bottom of the left circle, as he ripped a shot to the top-right corner. Less than a minute later, Ryan Naumovski made a pass from the left wall to Gavin Gulash, who then slid a pass to Zach Nazzarett on the right side and buried his shot.
Odessa started its comeback near the eight-minute mark of the third period when Rex Moe took the puck from the blue line, worked through several Titans players to get a shot off and buried his own rebound. James Crossman made it a one-goal game by toe-dragging around a defender and beat Perrone with high-blocker shot from the right circle. The goal was on the power-play, making it the first one the Titans have given up this season.
The Jackalopes’ final two blows came in a span of 25 seconds, starting with a penalty shot for Jared Christy at 17:14. Perrone tried to catch him off-guard with a fake poke check, but Christy snapped a shot blocker side to even the score. Vaclav Zidek quickly gave Odessa the lead when he put away a rebound from a one-timer by Eric Huss.
Aside from giving up another three-goal lead, the Titans went 0-for-9 on the power play that included two lengthy five-on-three opportunities. Doremus was blunt when discussing the man-advantage.
“The power play has under performed big time. The players need to execute better and create more offense by ultimately burying their chances. If our power play was executing right now we would be sitting here with two wins under our belt. Simply put, it needs to be better,” he said.
The Titans will have a chance to rebound with its third game of the NAHL Showcase. Today they will face the Minnesota Wilderness at 5:30 p.m. EST, and the game will be streamed on hockeytv.com.