The New Jersey Titans split a weekend series with the second-place Jamestown Rebels, losing on Friday night by a score of 2-1, then bouncing back with a 1-0 win on Saturday. Here are some notes and takeaways from the back-to-back, as well as their upcoming series against the Maryland Black Bears.
Better showing against the Rebels
Two weeks prior to the series in Middletown, the Titans were outscored by the Rebels 11-2 in a two-game set at Northwest Arena. While the series split last weekend, the scoring was even at two goals apiece. It was a defensive showdown on both sides, and head coach Craig Doremus said he was pleased with the effort.
“I thought it was a good all-around effort from the guys throughout the weekend. We came up a little bit short on Friday but the effort and compete level were there,” he said. “Following up on Saturday, I thought we had a bit of a lackadaisical start in the first period, but there was a good bounce back and response from them within the dressing room and it carried over onto the ice, so I’m really proud of the guys this weekend.”
…Though scoring woes continue
New Jersey has struggled to score against the Rebels, scoring only once in each of the last four games against Jamestown. To the Rebels’ credit, they have the third best goals-against in the league and best in the East Division. Titans’ goaltender Brandon Perrone offered his take on why the offense struggles against Jamestown and how they can remedy that problem.
“They’re a very good team, they’re well-coached and really structured. But for us, we just need to use our speed. If we can do that, I don’t think they can compete with us, so it gives us confidence going into the home stretch and postseason with this win,” Perrone said.
Perrone continues to dominate
The Titans’ scoring troubles against Jamestown means the goaltending has to be perfect. Perrone achieved just that by recording a 29-save shutout in Saturday’s 1-0 victory. He stopped 13 shots in the first period and made 12 more saves in the third period, foiling the Rebels’ search for the tying goal.
Since the calendar year flipped to 2019, Perrone has posted a save percentage of .925 and a goals against average of 2.72. Doremus spoke about his turnaround and how it has given his team a boost late in the season.
“Simply put, we’re not in a position to win the game tonight without excellent goaltending from BP. Can’t say enough about his game right now and how much he gives our team confidence. I truly think he is a difference maker in the lineup,” Doremus said.
Manoukian finding his game again
Eric Manoukian scored the only goal in Saturday’s win. He buried a rebound off a goalmouth scramble that was started by Zach Nazzarett and Kyle Jeffers, collecting his third goal of the year and his first since Dec 8, 2018.
“Jeffers just tried to slam it to the net, I just came flying, tried to find the puck and buried it,” Manoukian said of the goal.
The ’98-born defenseman spoke about his recovery from a broken jaw he suffered in late January. Manoukian’s goal came in his fifth game back from his injury, and he said he’s playing better with each passing game.
“I’ve been working every day, even when I was injured, just practicing and skating every day. Even though it was a tough rebound, I was able to get my legs back and I’m feeling comfortable on the ice.”
One last series against Maryland
The Titans will play its final two home games of the regular season against the Maryland Black Bears. This season, New Jersey has a record of 7-2-1 against the expansion franchise. Two weeks ago, the Titans played against the Black Bears in their final two home games and split the series with a 4-3 win and 3-2 overtime loss.
When asked if the Titans can carry over its momentum from the series against the Rebels, Doremus pointed out the team’s up-and-down play and stressed the importance of developing consistency in these final four games of the season.
“I wish I could say definitely yes, but we’ve been so Jekyll and Hyde throughout the year, I hope it’s coming and they see where we’re heading and what this journey is about to be,” he said.
Puck drop on Friday and Saturday are both scheduled for 7 p.m., and Saturday’s contest will be parent/billet-parent night. For those that cannot attend the games, they will be available for streaming on hockeytv.com.
Photo Credit: Pete MacDonald (Twitter: @PMacDonald51)