A weekend sweep in the final home games of the 2023 calendar year against the New Hampshire Mountain Kings propelled the New Jersey Titans up the standings and into their holiday break with a three game winning streak.
Friday night was Teddy Bear Toss night at the Middletown Sports Complex, but after a disallowed goal less than three minutes into the game, the New Jersey fans spent more time with their stuffed animals than anticipated. A tightly played but scoreless first period saw the Titans fail to convert on four separate power plays. The Mountain Kings would break the ice in the second period on a deflected rebound in front of the net, taking a 1-0 lead into the third period. The Titans finally broke through at the 7:06 mark of the third with Jack Hillier’s 4th of the season to tie the game, assisted by Reece Brednich and Dylan Krick. For Krick, it was the first point in his NAHL career.
Regulation would not be enough in the first ever meeting between the teams, and the overtime period began with New Hampshire in control of the pucks. They would maintain possession for the first minute, until Dominik Bartecko blocked a shot from the point and took off from his own blue line with a lane to the opposing net. Picking up Matej Teply driving towards goal, Bartecko instead rifled a wrist shot to the short side for his 11th of the season to give the Titans their 4th overtime victory of the year.
Not willing to wait as long to score on Saturday, New Jersey potted two in the opening frame. First, it was Dominick Rivelli putting home a rebound for his 11th of the season at 13:30, assisted by Nikita Meshcheryakov and Dominik Bartecko. Hillier then scored his second in as many games at 14:55 to give the Titans a 2-0 lead they would take into the first intermission. Johnny McMahon and goaltender Zak Brice assisted on Hillier’s 5th of the year, giving Brice assists in back to back weekends. While there was no scoring in the second period, New Jersey began the third on the power play, and Nikita Meshcheryakov converted 29 seconds in to give the Titans a 3-0 lead with his 11th of the season, assisted by Matej Teply and Reece Brednich. Brice shut the door the rest of the way for his second shutout of the season and the fifth of his NAHL career.
With the pair of wins, the Titans now find themselves in 4th place in the crowded East Division, trailing the 3rd place Northeast Generals by only 2 points. The team enters the two week holiday break with a record of 17-13-1, winning their last three. Next up is a trip to Western Pennsylvania for a two game set against the Johnstown Tomahawks on Friday, January 5th, at 7:30pm and Saturday, January 6th, at 7:00pm.