The New Jersey Titans closed out the 2018-19 regular season with two games against the Northeast Generals at the New England Sports Village. On Saturday night, the Titans fell just short with a 2-1 loss, but were able to bounce back and with a 4-3 overtime victory on Sunday afternoon.
Titans head Coach Craig Doremus said he was pleased with the way his team wrapped up the regular season, between getting the win on Sunday and having younger players ice time at the NAHL level.
“We went in there and got some guys experience in the North American (Hockey) League, most of our affiliates were able to get on the ice and get some playing time. I thought they did really well as Northeast was playing for their season and dressed their veteran lineup,” Doremus said. “Our guys gave them all they could handle from the back line up to the forwards. We would’ve liked to win Saturday’s game, but the response on Sunday was excellent.”
Here are some additional takeaways from the two-game series that took place in Attleboro, Mass.
Naumovski the OT hero
The Titans’ offense ran dry in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat, as Michael Outzen scored the lone goal for New Jersey. On Sunday, the Titans responded by putting four past Generals’ goaltender Marko Sturma, including two from Ryan Naumovski. The Niagara commit scored a shorthanded goal at 13:10 of the third period to give his team a 3-2 lead, then notched a power-play goal three minutes into overtime by stuffing in a rebound.
It was the sixth time this season the Titans won in overtime, eighth including shootouts, setting a new high in the Titans’ four-year history in New Jersey. Naumovski added an assist with his two goals, giving him 59 points in 59 games this season. He spoke about Sunday’s win and what it means to end the regular season on a high note.
“I think it’s always good to end the regular season on a win. It gets the guys excited for playoffs, just getting a little momentum going into the first game and we’ll see how it goes next weekend,” Naumovski said.
Jerzak shines in debut
Doremus decided to give Brandon Perrone a rest before the start of the postseason, and gave the starting nod to Ryan Winter on Saturday and Dalton Jerzak on Sunday.
Jerzak, a 2001-born goaltender, was the starter for the team’s Tier III affiliate New Jersey 87’s of the Eastern Hockey League. When their season ended last month, Jerzak stuck around in Middletown and practiced with the Titans before he finally earned his shot on Sunday. He made the most of his debut by stopping 30 of the 33 shots faced in the overtime win. After the game, Jerzak spoke about his NAHL debut and what it meant for him to pick up the victory.
“It was an awesome opportunity, I am truly blessed. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates, they really bought in and rallied around me which really means a lot,” he said. “It is for sure a game I will remember and getting the win in overtime was the cherry on top of a great team effort, especially going into the playoffs.”
Zona gets his first
In addition to Jerzak’s goaltending performance, Titans’ recent tender signing Brad Zona picked up his first goal on Sunday. He opened the scoring 81 seconds into Sunday’s contest by flinging a shot from the side-boards that slipped by Generals goalie Marko Sturma on the short side. The Massachusetts native missed the Titans’ final two home games against the Maryland Black Bears, but was able to return from Cushing Academy and will be in New Jersey for the postseason. Doremus gave credit to the young defender for keeping up with a fast-paced team such as the Northeast Generals.
“He was solid. I thought for Brad, obviously he’s relatively new to the league and inexperienced. Saturday was an adjustment for him with the speed, but I thought he responded to it and his game on Sunday was much better,” Doremus said. “For him it’s about getting those game reps, getting the experience for better or worse, and any time you find the back of the net it makes it that much easier.”
Re-writing the record book
As the Titans have wrapped up its fourth regular season in New Jersey, some current players have set new records here in Middletown. Here’s a list of some of the records set this season:
Career games: Spencer Stanley – 150
Career points: Ryan Naumovski – 105
Career goals: Kyle Jeffers/Gavin Gulash – 39
Career assists: Ryan Naumovski – 72
Career penalty minutes: Kyler Head – 286
Career wins: Brandon Perrone – 41
Career shutouts: Brandon Perrone – 5
Points in a season: Ryan Naumovski – 59
Goals in a season: Gavin Gulash – 26
Assists in a season: Ryan Naumovski – 43
Doremus spoke about the players setting these records, including those who played for the team back in the 2016-17 season when Doremus first stepped in as a head coach for the organization.
“I can’t say enough about all those guys. They took a chance on the program years ago when there wasn’t much of a history book. To me, they are the history book and they define what we want to be on and off the ice, what we want a Titan to be,” Doremus said. “They’re all special young men and they’ve left their imprint all over this program and in this building, and I think we can finish this the right way and their legacy can be something that we talk about and read about for a very long time in this building.”
Getting ready for the postseason
For the fourth time in as many seasons, the New Jersey Titans are heading into the postseason. Securing the number three seed, they will face the second place Rebels in the East Division semifinal. The Titans have a record of 5-6-1 against Jamestown in the regular season, and six of those games were decided by one goal. Here is the complete schedule for the first round:
Friday April 12: at Jamestown – 7:00 p.m. – Northwest Arena
Saturday April 13: at Jamestown – 7:00 p.m. – Northwest Arena
Friday April 19: vs. Jamestown – 7:05 p.m. – Middletown Sports Complex
*Saturday April 20: vs. Jamestown – 7:05 p.m. – Middletown Sports Complex
*Monday April 22: at Jamestown – 7:00 p.m. – Northwest Arena
Photo Credit: Patrick Garriepy