Revenge had to be on the mind of the New Jersey Titans after seeing their slim division lead over the Knights evaporate Friday. It became very clear, very early on Saturday that the Titans had put yesterday’s 8-1 loss behind them.
Following a Knights penalty just over a minute into Saturday’s contest, the Titans jumped out to a 1-0 lead. After going 0/7 on the power play the evening before, New Jersey pulled the monkey off their back when Kyle Jeffers poked a Kyler Head rebound past David Tomeo. Hunter Alden picked up the secondary apple on the tally.
On the opposite end of the ice, graced with the benefit of a full warm up this night, Matt Ladd started fast in net for the Titans. In response to the Titans attack, the Knights countered with a number of chances through the opening period. Ladd stopped them all on the way to 18 saves in the first.
The Titans tacked on another goal when Hunter Alden, set up by Zachary Faremouth, created a 2-on-1 with Chris Garbe. the latter put home a swift pass from Alden at 8:03 which held to give the Titans a 2-0 lead after one.
In the second, New Jersey kept their foot on the gas, as they came out in much the same way the Knights had in Friday’s second period. Matt Cameron notched his 21st goal of the season at the 5:23 marker, set up on another slick pass from Alden, with the second assist credited to defenseman Eric Manoukian.
Just over a minute later, Gavin Gulash poked a puck through on the back door of Tomeo’s net on assists from Garbe and Faremouth. The score saw Tomeo’s night end, as the Knights swapped him out for Christian Stoever.
Quickly on finding themselves on the wrong end of a large deficit, the Knights responded with urgency, and at times, dominance in the attacking zone. Time and again they were turned away by Ladd, a 6’3″ wall in net. After his appearance in relief yesterday, the goalie came roaring back to rob the Knights on looks they were finishing on the night before.
Adding to their struggles, the Knights saw two mid-period power plays extinguished by a smothering and aggressive New Jersey penalty kill. On the second man-advantage, Kyle Jeffers even drew a penalty to force a penalty shot, shorthanded. Stoever (18 saves), denied the chance, looking stellar despite coming off the bench cold.
The lack of power play scoring sapped the Knights of valuable time in their efforts to build a comeback. Ladd’s dam finally broke when Tyrone Bronte deflected a Luke Robinson shot to the back of the net at 16:55. Justin Engelkes picked up the secondary assist on the score.
Into the third, the Knights offense slowed after wracking up 38 shots in the first 40 minutes. Ladd stopped all 7 offerings sent his way over the final 20, while the Titans maintained their dangerous transition game. It payed off yet again just under 15 minutes into the third. Kyle Jeffers notched his second goal of the game after Nick Boyagian bounced a puck off a back-checking Knight following a set up from Ryan Wheeler. Jeffers took the loose biscuit and deposited just past the toe of Stoever for the 5-1 lead.
The score held through the final horn, continuing the game of leap frog in the East division as New Jersey hopped back ahead of the Knights for second place. All totaled, the Titans scored five goals on 37 shots and killed off all 7 penalties they faced, a night after Wilkes-Barre/Scranton did the same. With home-ice advantage still very much in play, the two teams will meet for the final time in the regular season on Tuesday at 7:00 PM EDT in New Jersey. Tune in on www.hockeytv.com and stay tuned to www.wbsknights.com for all news and updates!