Zak Brice’s 39 saves would not be enough as the Titans conceded a power play goal with under a minute to go, falling to the Austin Bruins 4-3 on Friday afternoon at the NAHL Showcase.
Despite getting shut out the day before, New Jersey entered game 3 of the Showcase in a tie for first in the East Division with a 3-1-0 record. Meanwhile, the Austin Bruins returned 15 players from last year’s team, a team that fell in the Robertson Cup Finals to Oklahoma 4-3. The Bruins experience was apparent early, as they dominated possession time in the first period. New Jersey’s Zak Brice stood tall, stopped all 21 shots sent his way in the first. The Titans could only muster 3 shots on goal themselves, but went into the first intermission deadlocked with the defending Central Division Champions.
Austin would get on the board first in the second period with a power play goal under three minutes into the frame. The Titans responded quickly with Christian Wood’s first goal in the NAHL, assisted by Dominik Bartecko and Ryan Novo. Bartecko would then give New Jersey their first, and ultimately only, lead in the game just over two minutes after Wood’s first. Past the halfway point in the stanza, and again on the power play, the Bruins tied things up, and the second period ended with the teams tied at two. New Jersey was again heavily outshot in the period, 13 to 6.
The Bruins scored their only even strength goal under a minute into the third, as Brice lost sight of the puck. Austin maintained the lead until the 12:47 mark, when Arhip Sidarovich scored his first of the team, taking advantage of Austin goaltender Matthew MacArthur fumbling the puck behind the net. The teams seemed poised to need overtime, but a penalty taken with 2:06 to go put the Bruins on the power play once again. And, once again, they converted, leaving the Titans with only 48.3 seconds to try and tie the game. It was not to be, and the Titans fell to the Bruins for the second time in franchise history.
With the loss, New Jersey falls to 3-2-0 in the season, and are now tied with Maryland for 2nd place in the division. The Titans have one more game to play at the NAHL Showcase against the Oklahoma Warriors, a showdown between the last two Robertson Cup Champions. The Warriors had the best record in the league, and defeated Austin in the Finals. Faceoff is scheduled for 1:00pm Eastern, and can be watched live on NAHLtv.
The New Jersey Titans, proud members of the North American Hockey League, are entering their ninth season at the Middletown Sports Complex in Middletown, NJ. The 2022 Robertson Cup National Champions, the Titans have made the playoffs in every season since their founding in 2015. Season ticket packages will be available soon, in time for the 2023-24 season home opener versus Rochester on September 29th. Follow the New Jersey Titans on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok today!