Well, it had to end sometime, and it did last night as the visiting Maryland Black Bears defeated the Titans 4 – 3 in a shootout. It was New Jersey’s first loss in eleven games – although it came post close to making it eleven wins in a row.
Five of the game’s six regulation goals came in the first period.
Cam Gendron would open the scoring with 3:58 into the game. After Maryland dumped the puck into the Titans zone for a line change, Brody Medeiros settled down the biscuit and looked to set up the play from his own goal line. Medeiros tried to send a long outlet pass to Nick DeSantis at center ice but the puck was deflected by a Black Bears player. The deflection immediately went to Gendron who skated up along the far side boards and into the offensive zone on a breakaway. As Gendron came to the net he went from his forehand to his backhand and slid the puck around and behind Maryland’s goaltender Andrew Takacs to give the Titans and early 1 – 0 lead.
With four minutes remaining in the opening period, the action became fast and furious as there were four goals scored and two lead changes within two minutes.
Aden Bruich scored his second goal of the season to tie the game with 3:57 left in the first. As the Black Bears power play had just ended, Maryland’s Luke Mountain brought the up through the neutral zone and passed it over to Logan Kittleson at the far side blue line. Kittleson sent a cross-ice pass to Bruich who took a wrist shot from the near side faceoff dot that beat Titans goalie Patrick Pugliese high, short side.
Thirteen seconds later the Titans regained the lead on Chris Garbe’s fifth goal of the season. After Maryland won the ensuing draw, the puck went back to Black Bears defenseman Bryden Sinclair at the top of the far side faceoff circle. As Sinclair tried to bring the puck out of his zone, he was pressured by Shane Haviland, who was able to deflect the outlet pass directly to Garbe. The assistant captain made a nice move around a Maryland defender and skated into the offensive zone. Garbe took a shot that was saved by Takacs but Garbe picked up his own rebound and hit the back of the net to make it 2 – 1 Titans.
Ten seconds later the game was tied at two.
Immediately following the ensuing draw, the puck was dumped into the Titans zone and covered by Pugliese for a stoppage of play. As the teams lined up to the right of Titans goalie, the linesman dropped the puck and Maryland’s Wilmer Skoog won the draw and took a quick shot that went through the five hole of a surprised Pugliese.
Maryland would take their first lead of the game with 2:05 left in the first period. As Cade Penney tried to enter the offensive zone, he was knocked off the puck by a Black Bears defender and the biscuit went to Maryland’s Bradyen Stannard who skated towards the far side boards. Stannard headmanned the puck over to Garrett Szydlowski, who entered the offensive zone on a two-on-one with Hampus Rydqvist. Szydlowski passed the puck to Rydqvist on his left and Rydqvist took a one-timer that beat Pugliese blocker side to make it 3 – 2 Maryland.
The Titans had their chances to score but Takacs kept them at bay. With time running out in regulation, Pugliese was pulled for the extra attacker.
As Maryland’s Cameron Recchi tried to bring the puck out of his own zone, his stick was slightly lifted by Kyler Head and the biscuit was picked up by Tyler Nasca who sent a pass over to Michael Outzen at the top of the near side faceoff circle. Outzen sent a cross-ice pass to Mitch Machlitt who one-timed it past a sprawled out Takacs and into the open the net with thirty-five second remaining to tie the game at three.
After a scoreless overtime, the game went to the skills competition. Each team’s first three shooter were denied. Then it was Kittleson’s turn. The Maryland forward took a shot that went off Pugliese’s blocker and into the net to give the Black Bears the 4 – 3 lead.
Outzen looked to tie the game on his turn. As Outzen skated down the ice, he took a shot that hit the far side post and bounced out of harm’s way to end the Titans ten game win streak.
Pugliese stopped 35 of 38 shots while Takacs turned aside 25 of 28. Click here for the box score.
The two teams will play game two of this two-game series tonight at 7:00 PM at the Middletown Sports Complex.