The Titans overcame an early three goal, first period deficit to defeat the Johnstown Tomahawks last night 6 – 5 in a seesaw battle. The victory gave the visiting Red Buckets a weekend sweep over their long-time rival, and it was the first time in franchise history that the Titans had swept a second road series against the Tomahawks.
Johnstown got out of the gate quickly taking a 3 – 0 lead in the game’s first 11:33 minutes of the opening period. Jacob Badal started the scoring for the Tomahawks just 1:07 into the game. The Tomahawks’ Holt Oliphant picked up the loose puck behind the Titans net and sent it back to Ethan Perrault at the near side point. Perrault took a shot that was redirected out front by Badal and past Titans netminder Andrew Takacs to make it a 1 – 0 game.
Almost two minutes later Dustin Geregach doubled the Tomahawks lead. Geregach brought the puck from behind his own goal and through the slot and made a long stretch pass to Noah Wagner just outside the Titans blueline along the far side boards. As Wagner gained the line, he made a back pass to Geregach at the half wall. Geregach cut through the slot and backhanded the puck past Takacs for Geregach’s fifth goal of the season.
At 9:33 into the first period, David Posma was called for head contact to give the Tomahawks the man advantage. As time was expiring on the powerplay, Braedon Ford game Johnstown a 3 – 0 lead. Egan Schmitt brought the puck up and along the far side boards and into the Titans zone. As Schmitt started to circle behind the New Jersey cage, Schmitt made a centering pass out front to Ford who took a wrist shot that beat Takacs long side for his second goal of the season.
Just thirteen seconds after the Tomahawks took a 3 – 0 lead, Chris Carroll scored his first goal as a Titan to put the Red Buckets on the board. Jack Karlsson had the puck in the Johnstown far side corner and passed it to Brandon Avezov behind the Tomahawks net. As Avezov started to circle out, he made a centering pass out front to Carroll who took a wrist shot the beat Johnstown’s Sam Evola long side to make it a 3 – 1 game.
A minute later Posma cut the Titans deficit in half. Michael Young brought the puck into the Tomahawks zone along the far side boards. As he gained the line, he made a drop pass to Nick Ring at the point. Ring passed the puck over to Posma on his right, and Posma took a clapper that beat Evola long side for Posma’s seventh goal of the season.
Anthony Calafiore tied the game at three just 1:58 into the second period. After Rocco Testa-Basi won the draw deep inside the Tomahawks zone, the puck went back to Calafiore at end of the faceoff circle. Calafiore took a wrist shot that found its way through a maze and past Evola for Calafiore’s thirteenth goal of the season.
The Titans then took their first lead of the game at 5:01 into the middle stanza. Brendan Dumas had the puck at the Tomahawks near side half wall and made a spin move around a Johnstown defender and started to go towards the net. As Dumas reached the bottom of the faceoff circle, he passed the puck to Tommy Bannister in the slot and Bannister took a point-blank-shot that was saved by Evola but the rebound came right out to Stephen Willey and the team captain buried the puck into the open net for his seventh goal of the season.
With a minute left in the second, Johnstown tied the game at four. The Tomahawks’ Stephen Kyrkostas picked up the loose puck at the top of his own zone and carried it through center ice and into the Titans end along the near side boards. As Kyrkostas cut towards the slot, he made a backdoor pass to Zachary Murray who was to the right of Takacs, and Murray slammed the biscuit into the net for his fifteenth goal of the season.
The Tomahawks regained the lead at the 2:23 mark of the third period on Kyrkostas’ tenth goal of the season. Perrault had the puck behind the Titans cage and passed it back to Zachary Stoner at the point. After having to glove down the puck, Stoner took a shot on net that was redirected by Kyrkostas out front and past Takacs to make it 5 – 4 Johnstown.
Young tied the game at five three minutes after Johnstown took the lead. After Ryan Coughlin took a shot that was saved by Evola, the rebound came out to Owen Luik at the top of the near side faceoff circle. Luik took a shot that was blocked out front by a Tomahawks defender, but the rebound came right out to Young who slammed the biscuit past Evola for Young’s seventh goal of the season.
Marcus Sang closed out the scoring at 6:46 of the final period to give the Titans the 6 – 5 win. Avezov picked up the loose puck in his own near side corner and passed it up to Carroll at the top of the slot. Carroll brought the biscuit up along the boards and into the Johnstown zone. As Carroll gained the line, he cut towards the center to take a shot that was blocked out front but Sang wristed the puck past Evola for his fourth goal of the season to complete the comeback.
Takacs stopped 19 of 24 shots in the win while Evola turned aside 27 of 33 in defeat. Click here for the box score.
The Titans will leave on Thursday to play a two-game series in Maine against the Nordiques starting on the 17th to finish out before the holiday break.