The New Jersey Titans fell to the East Division leading Johnstown Tomahawks last night 9 – 6 in a wild, seesaw battle at the 1st Summit Arena at Cambria County War Memorial.
The truth is did anyone think it wasn’t going to be a shootout? You have two of the top four teams in the league who have scored the most goals this season playing each other. A total of fifteen goals were tallied and 74 shots were taken, and if you blinked in the beginning of the game, you thought it was going to be a rout.
The Tomahawks scored three goals in just the first 1:40 into the game to take a commanding lead. After William Persson, Caden Lewandowski and Daniel Tkac gave Johnstown a 3 – 0 lead, Titans head coach Craig Doremus called time out to settle his troops and hit the reset button.
Captain Jake Suede scored with 6:55 remaining in the opening period to put the Titans on the board. Brad Zona took a shot from the near side point that went wide of the net and the puck bounced off the end boards and picked up by David Posma. The Titans defenseman skated towards the right of Johnstown netminder Josh Graziano and he made a centering pass out front to Suede in the slot and Suede one-timed it past Graziano long side to make it a 3 – 1 game. It was Suede’s first goal in eleven games.
With 6:06 remaining in the period, Johnstown’s Ethan Webb was called for interference to give the Titans the man advantage. Twenty-two seconds later Zach Nazzarett brought the Titans within one. Cade Penney started the play at the top of the high point, and he send a pass over to Anthony Calafiore on his left. Calafiore send it down low to Jake LaRusso who was to the right of Graziano. LaRusso sent a pass through the goal mouth and Nazzarett redirected the puck past Graziano and into the open net to make it a 3 – 2 game.
Johnstown’s Jay Ahearn was called for goalie interference on Titans netminder Christian Stoever at 1:17 into the middle stanza to give the Titans the man advantage. Thirty-nine seconds later Evan Werner tied the game. After the Tomahawks dumped the puck deep into the Titans zone, it was played by the birthday boy Stoever at the right of his net. Stoever sent a long outlet pass to Werner just outside the Tomahawks zone. As Werner gained the line, he took a wrist shot from the top of the far side faceoff circle that went off the stick of Tomahawks defenseman Ryan Poorman and past Graziano to make it a 3 – 3 game.
Werner was playing in his first game since March 5 against Maryland, and it was his first goal since February 26 against these same Tomahawks.
The Titans took the lead at 6:03 into the second period on Posma’s second goal of the season. Jack Ring intercepted a Tomahawks outlet pass just inside the Johnstown’s far side blueline. As Ring reached the bottom of the faceoff circle, he centered the puck out front to Posma but there was a log jam in front to the net and Posma sent the puck back to Ring behind the goal line. Ring sent a return pass to Posma in the slot and the rookie defenseman beat Graziano to give the Titans a 4 – 3 lead.
After some fisticuffs midway through the period, the Titans went on the powerplay with 8:23 remaining in the second. A little over a minute later, Johnstown tied the game. Poorman picked up the loose puck behind his own goal line and sent an outlet pass that went off the skate of teammate Holt Oliphant and directly to Ahearn. Ahearn walked in all alone on Stoever and Ahearn took a wrist shot that was saved by Stoever but the rebound came right back to Ahearn who lifted it over the fallen Titans netminder to make it a 4 – 4 game. It was the seventh time this season that the Titans gave up a shorthanded goal.
Less then a minute later, Johnstown regained the lead. Lewandowski picked up the loose puck at the top of his own slot and sent it up to Dominic Schimizzi, who just exited the penalty box, along the far side boards. As Schimizzi gained the line, he took a wrist shot that beat Stoever short side to make it a 5 – 4 game.
Schimizzi then was called for cross-checking with 2:38 left in the period. Twenty-two seconds later Caleb Price tied the game. Calafiore picked up the puck inside the offensive zone near side half wall and send it down to LaRusso at the goal line. LaRusso send it all the way back to Penney at the point. Penney took a wrist shot that was saved by Graziano, but the rebound came right out to Price who shot it short side past Graziano for his fourth goal of the season. It was the Titans third powerplay goal of the evening.
Middletown native John Gelatt scored just 3:16 to give Johnstown the lead for goal, and then the Tomahawks added goals by Will Margel, Persson and Jared Gerger while Tommy Bannister lit the lamp for the Titans close out the scoring.
Stoever, who had to make several key saves to keep the Titans in the game, stopped 29 of 38 shots while Graziano turned aside 30 of 36. Click here for the box score.
The two teams will meet again to close out the regular season series between them at 7:00 PM.