Ryan Naumovski scored the overtime goal in a thrilling 2-1 victory over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights on Friday night at Middletown Ice World.
The Michigan native thought he was going to end the game on a breakaway, but was robbed by the glove of Knights’ goaltender David Tomeo. Centering on the following faceoff, Naumovski pushed the puck forward, took it around the goal and scored on the wraparound to give New Jersey the 2-1 win.
“I thought I had the goalie beat high glove, and then I knew I had to get back at it,” Naumovski said about the overtime sequence. “I saw how they lined up (on the next faceoff), and no one was covering the net so I thought I could just slip right through.”
Jack Olmstead opened the scoring in the second period to put the Knights ahead, but it was Ryan Wheeler who tied the game at 12:48 of the third period. It set the stage for overtime, where the Titans are 2-1 against the Knights this season when the game extends past regulation.
The Titans improved its record to 19-15-2 with the home-and-home sweep and put themselves four points behind the third-place Northeast Generals with four games in hand. Brandon Perrone stopped 35 of 36 shots in the winning effort.
“I thought we got off to a great start, their goalie really played well early on to keep them in the game. But then we found our way to the penalty box with a lot of undisciplined penalties,” Titans head coach Craig Doremus said. “But I thought our game was steady especially late in the second and through the third. Obviously a big game-tying goal by Wheeler after having a couple of early scoring chances that he didn’t capitalize on.”
New Jersey had a couple of quality opportunities earlier in the game but were unable to beat Tomeo. Gavin Gulash tried going short side on a two-on-one but was turned away with a blocker save. Chris Garbe walked in the low slot on a four-on-two rush for the Titans, but was denied by Tomeo’s glove. Wheeler finally broke through when he went low-glove for his fourth goal of the season.
“I found ice in the middle, snuck down the slot and Naumovski found me, and you got to get that one in,” Wheeler said.
With a goal and an assist last night, Naumovski finishes the weekend with five points. He recorded two goals and a helper in the 7-2 win at Wilkes-Barre, and now has 10 goals this season.
Doremus spoke about the bounce back he saw from his team this weekend after getting swept at home last week against the Rebels.
“We’ve spoken at length and taken pride about playing well at home. Last weekend, especially Saturday night was something we weren’t too proud of in our effort, our execution and commitment to the team,” he said. “It was important for us to bounce back and get back on the winning horse. It’s a tight race in the East Division and we have to make sure that we put our best foot forward each day.”
The Titans will get another shot at the Philadelphia Rebels this week, with an 11 a.m. game on Wednesday at Middletown Sports Complex. The team will also take a break this weekend to enjoy Super Bowl Sunday, and Doremus gave his thoughts on the big game.
“Well, I’m a Giants fan, so you certainly can’t go with the Eagles,” he said. “I think you have to respect the greatness in Tom Brady and coach Belichick and what the Patriots stand for. I admire greatness and respect it, and I really hope they continue their legacy in the NFL as long as they’re not playing the G-men.”