Roman Kraemer scored a power-play goal a minute and 47 seconds into overtime, handing the Titans a 3-2 defeat Saturday night at Middletown Sports Complex.
Tomahawks goaltender Jack Leavy—one night after giving up three goals and getting pulled in the first period—made 31 saves on 33 shots to pick up the win. Brandon Perrone stopped 27 of the 30 shots he faced in the losing effort. The Titans get a point in the standings, but their record falls to 25-17-7 with the loss to Johnstown (18-29-4).
New Jersey came out flying at the start of the game, testing Leavy early before drawing a hooking minor from Karim Del Ponte. On that power play, Nick Boyagian found Gavin Gulash in front of the net, who swept puck in from his backhand around Leavy to put the Titans up 1-0. It was his 10th goal of the season, with six of them coming against the Tomahawks.
Andy Nedeljkovic tied the game at 5:18 of the first, but momentum swung back to the Titans’ favor when Andrew Andary was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for checking from behind. Cameron gave the Titans its second power-play goal at 17:28, putting his team ahead yet again. Tate Singleton and Tyler Antonucci picked up the assists for Cameron’s 19th of the season.
The tables turned in the second period, as the Titans committed four minor penalties in a span of just under 10 minutes. While they killed off each of Johnstown’s power plays, it prevented the Titans from generating chances in the offensive zone. Eventually at 17:17 of the middle frame, Samuel Solensky notched his 15th goal of the season to knot the score at two.
“The penalties and lack of discipline definitely hurt our game and team. We did a good job on the penalty kill but it interrupts the flow of your team and forced us to a defensive mindset,” Titans head coach Craig Doremus said of the second period. “We want to play an attacking brand of hockey and having to kill so many minutes of penalties just crippled our ability to get into our style of play.”
Neither team scored in the third, even though both teams had two power-play opportunities in the final 20 minutes. As the clocked ticked to the final few seconds of regulation, Hunter Alden took a boarding minor that carried over into the three-on-three overtime.
The Titans were doing a good job killing the penalty, including an incredible glove save from Brandon Perrone to rob (look up player). On the next play, however, Ryan Wheeler blocked a shot by kicking the puck away from his goal but right to the stick of Kraemer. He wasted no time and buried his 17th goal of the season to give the Tomahawks the victory.
“They are not a typical fifth place team as the standings may indicate,” Doremus said of the Tomahawks, who have won three of their last four games. “They compete and battle each and every night and have good hockey players up and down their lineup. They wanted it more than our team tonight and were able to execute their game plan effectively. We have to be better in every aspect of the game tomorrow on a quick turnaround.”
With the Titans and Tomahawks each picking up a win this weekend, it sets the stage for a rubber match today at Middletown Sports Complex with a 3 p.m. puck drop.