The New Jersey Titans won its last two home games of the regular season by defeating the Maryland Black Bears 4-3 on Friday and 7-3 on Saturday. Having clinched the number three seed in the East Division, the Titans improved its record to 30-25-3 and will play two more games against the Northeast Generals in Attleboro, Mass. Here are some takeaways from the previous weekend against Maryland, and what to look forward to in the home stretch of the season.
Jeffers, Garbe earn weekly honors in final home sweep
Kyle Jeffers earned the NAHL East Division Star of the Week for his stellar play against the Black Bears. In Friday night’s 4-3 win, he scored the game-winning goal and added an assist. The following night, he recorded three assists in his team’s 7-3 victory. Titans head coach Craig Doremus spoke about the performance of the AIC commit.
“Kyle had a monster offensive weekend for us against Maryland. He was a consistent threat for us along with his linemates Kyler Head and Mitch Machlitt. I thought his work 5 on 5 and on the power play was a big difference,” he said. “Kyle has been one of leading scorers throughout the season and we need him to continue to be a leader for us as we head towards the Robertson Cup Playoffs.”
Chris Garbe earned the second star of the week by recording two power-play goals plus an assist in the 7-3 win. Committed to Brown, Garbe has elevated his game and finished the month of March with five goals.
“Shortly after the holiday break when Garbe got back from an injury, he’s been arguably our best and most consistent player. I think our guys feed off him because who he is off the ice. He’s a great personality and a good kid, comes into work every day and I think they feed off his work ethic and passion,” Doremus said.
Power play continues its surge
New Jersey scored a combined five power play goals in the two games against Maryland, going 1-for-3 in Friday’s win and 4-for-6 on Saturday. Gavin Gulash scored twice on the man advantage over the weekend while Garbe and Jeffers recorded three power-play points each on Saturday.
“I think spacing and puck support, the ability to find the open guy were all factors. They’ve done a good job and put a lot of work in the last few weeks with the new units we’ve put out, and it’s good to see them rewarded,” Doremus said.
Garbe gave credit to his linemates, Joe Glamos and Shane Haviland, who all stuck together as a line for both 5-on-5 and power-play situations.
“I think we just got shots to the net, Jeffers had some great looks along with Brody (Medeiros), Joey (Glamos) and Shane (Haviland). We really just connected today and had multiple ways to score,” he said.
Ending the home schedule on a high note
With those two wins over the Black Bears, the Titans finish the regular season with a 19-10-1 mark at Middletown Sports Complex, the second-best home record in the East Division. Saturday’s game was parent and billet-parent night where the families of the players were honored prior to puck drop.
Ryan Naumovski, a native of Shelby Township, Mich., spent the last two seasons billeting with Gulash and his mother, Cheryl Sidney, in Red Bank. After the 7-3 win, he spoke about the event and what it meant for the players.
“I think its’ always a good time to see your parents and loved ones, and especially the billets. They take care of us like we’re their own kids, and with Cheryl, just inviting me to stay at here house for the past year and a half has probably been the greatest thing that’s happened to me here,” Naumovski said.
He added that living with Gulash led to chemistry on the ice. Playing together on a line for most of the season, the two players have a combined 93 points.
“We’re always together and always bonding, we know each other’s instincts and we know where we’re going to be on the ice,” Naumovski said.
One last series against the Generals
The Titans will wrap up the regular season this Saturday and Sunday against the Northeast Generals at New England Sports Village. New Jersey is 6-4-0 against the Generals this season, though the two teams have not faced each other since February. Northeast will also make one final push for the postseason; they need two points to clinch the fourth and final spot in the East Division.
As the Titans get ready for its final regular-season series, Doremus has a simple mantra for his team. “Just continue to be better.”
Dates for playoff home games announced
Regardless of the outcome this weekend, the Titans will face the second-place Jamestown Rebels in the first round of the Robertson Cup Playoffs. It will be a best-of-three series, as Games 1 and 2 will take place at Northwest Arena on April 12 and 13. The series will head back to Middletown for Game 3 on April 19, and a Game 4 (if necessary) the following night. Puck drop for both games will be 7:05 p.m.
Photo Credit: Pete MacDonald (Twitter: @PMacDonald51)