The New Jersey Titans picked up a pair of home wins against the Northeast Generals on Saturday and Sunday before falling to the Philadelphia Rebels 3-0 on Monday at the Class of 1923 Arena.
While the Titans were unable to complete the sweep in Philadelphia, they did jump ahead of Northeast for third place in the East Division after sweeping the two-game set in Middletown with 5-1 and 3-1 victories. Nick Boyagian was also named the East Division Star of the Week by picking up two goals and two assists in those wins. Here’s a rundown of each game that took place this President’s Day weekend.
Saturday: Feisty second period becomes turning point in 5-1 win
Nick Boyagian opened the scoring at 7:38 of the first period when he ripped a shot from the top of the right faceoff circle, beating Generals goaltender Marko Sturma high glove side. When Northeast went on the power play early in the second, Justin Jallen ripped a one-timer from that same spot, this time beating Titans net minder Matt Ladd to even the score at one.
Things took a wild turn in the second period when Vincent DeSanctis–making his debut with the Generals–made a vicious hit on Ryan Wheeler that sent him hurling into the boards. A line brawl quickly emerged, involving Tate Singleton and Holden Biebel for the Titans, while Alex Cohen, Ryan Rowland and DeSanctis dropped the mitts for Northeast.
The first four players were assessed a five minute major and a game misconduct for fighting, while DeSanctis was given five and a game for boarding as well as a five minute major and ten minute misconduct for fighting. He received a total of 50 penalty minutes on the play and gave the Titans a ten minute power play.
Ryan Naumovski took advantage of the lengthy man advantage by scoring on a tap-in at the front of the goal, recording his 11th goal of the season. Later in the power play, Kyler Head found a loose puck in the slot and unleashed a wrister past Sturma’s blocker to make it a 3-1 game. Just as the power play expired, Naumovski picked up his second goal of the game to further extend the Titans’ lead.
At 2:23 of the third period, defenseman Cam Kuhl carried the puck into the Generals’ zone on the right side and took a sharp-angle shot from the side boards. The shot found its way over Sturma’s glove, giving Kuhl his fourth goal of the season and his first with the Titans since his trade from the Topeka Roadrunners.
“We had numbers going through the neutral zone, and I went up the right side. We were looking for the short side and the goalie wasn’t there, so the puck went in, and getting my first as a Titan felt like getting a monkey off my back,” Kuhl said, whose parents were in attendance that night.
Matt Ladd made 23 saves on 24 shots to pick up his eighth win of the season while pulling the Titans to within one point of the Generals in the East Division standings.
Sunday: Boyagian’s goal the difference in 3-1 victory
Sunday proved to be a more tight-checking game on both sides. Gavin Gulash opened the scoring at 13:43, earning his seventh goal of the season, but it was the only goal in the first 40 minutes. Goaltenders David Fessenden and Brandon Perrone traded quality saves to keep the score close in that span.
At 6:54 of the third period, Boyagian took a shot from the blue line that was blocked, but the puck went right back to him as he beat Fessenden on his second attempt. It was his second goal of the weekend and his 16th of the season.
Former Titan Matt Wiesner responded three minutes later with his 19th goal of the season. He was on a breakaway and ripped a shot over Perrone’s glove to cut the Generals’ deficit in half.
Northeast pushed for the tying goal, but it was Spencer Stanley who scored on the empty net, giving the Titans their two-goal lead back. With the win, New Jersey overtook the Generals for third place in the East Division.
“We’ve been hovering around .500 and now we’re starting to string together some wins,” said Perrone. “Hopefully we’ll get hot and keep this momentum riding into the playoffs.”
Monday: Titans blanked 3-0 in Philadelphia
Monday was the first of five consecutive meetings between the Titans and the Rebels; and Philadelphia’s win snapped an eight-game point streak for New Jersey.
It only took 5:13 for the Rebels to jump ahead, as Brandon Stanley notched a power-play goal for his 15th of the season. Ryan Patrick made it 2-0 as he beat Matt Ladd at 17:24 of the first.
New Jersey outshot the Rebels 10-7 in the second period and controlled much of the tempo, but Rebels goalie Eli Billing answered the call, en route to a 27-save shutout.
The Titans had a few more chances at the start of the third period, but the game became out of reach when Stanley netted his second goal of the game at 6:20 of the period. It was New Jersey’s first regulation loss since January 27, but it was also a missed opportunity for the Titans to overtake the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights for 2nd place in the East Division.
This weekend, the Titans will have a home-and-home against the Rebels, playing in Philadelphia on Friday night before heading back to Middletown on Saturday. That game will also be the first of 10 consecutive home games for New Jersey that spans until March 25.