The Titans scored four, first period goals en route to a 5 – 3 win over the visiting Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks to complete a two game sweep of the Fraser Cup’s East Divisional Semi-Finals and move onto the East Divisional finals that begin next week. The Titans will face the winner of the Northeast Generals and Long Beach Sharks series, which is tied at one.
George Haigley opened the scoring just fifty-six seconds into the opening period. Tanner Smith picked up the loose puck at center ice and tapped it towards Haigley just outside the Hat Tricks zone. As Haigley gained the line, he took a wrist shot from the top of the far side faceoff circle that handcuffed Danbury netminder Trey Hirschfield and the puck went between his arm and body and rolled into the net to give the Titans a 1 – 0 lead.
Brandon Avezov scored his first goal of the game just two minutes later to double the Titans lead. Justin Cohn picked up the loose puck at the top of his own slot and passed it over to Lucas Salas on his right. Salas passed the biscuit up to Avezov along the near side boards. As Avezov gained the line, he cut towards the center at the top of the slot and passed the puck over to Brett Bell on his right. Bell sent a return pass to Avezov and he went towards the net and made a nice, backhanded shot that beat Hirschfield for his second goal of the playoffs.
Avezov scored his second goal of the game midway through the period. Avezov picked up the loose puck just outside his own blueline and carried it up along the near side boards. As he gained the line on a 2-on-1, Avezov passed the puck over to Bell on his left. Bell went towards the net and took a shot that was saved by Hirschfield but Avezov picked up the rebound and lifted it up and over the prone Danbury goalie for a 3 – 0 lead.
Danbury got on the board with 7:57 left in the first period. After the Hat Tricks’ Kolby Donovan won the draw deep inside the Titans zone, the puck went back to Tim Hayden at the near side point. Hayden took a shot on net that was redirected out front and past Titans netminder Ethan Kavanagh to make it a 3 – 1 game.
Bell scored his first goal of the game with forty-five seconds remaining in the period. After Avezov broke up a Danbury pass going back to the near side point in the Titans zone, Avezov skated up along the boards and gained the line on a 2-on-1 with Bell. As Avezov went towards the net, he made a drag move and passed the puck through the goalmouth to Bell who redirected the puck past Hirschfield to make it 4 – 1.
Salas was called for cross-checking with 3:12 left in the second to give Danbury the man advantage. A minute later, the Hat Tricks cut the Titans lead in half. After Donovan won the draw deep inside the offensive zone, the puck went back to Nate Mastrony at the point. Mastrony took a shot from the top of the far side faceoff circle that was saved by Kavanagh, but the rebound came right out to Kyle Madigan who tucked the loose puck into the back of the net for his first goal of the playoffs.
The Titans regained their three-goal lead when Bell scored his second of the game to make it 5 – 2. Avezov picked up the loose puck at center ice along the far side boards and carried it into the Danbury zone. As he reached the corner, he stopped and passed it back to Bell at the top of the circle and Bell took a one-timer that went bar down and into the net past Hirschfield.
Madigan scored with 9:55 left in the game to close out the scoring and make it a 5 – 3 game.
Kavanagh stopped 32 of 35 shots while Hirschfield turned aside 18 of 23. Inside the box score: Avezov: 4 Total Points (2 goals and 2 assists); Bell: 4 Total Points (2 goals and 2 assists); Haigley: 1 Goal. Click here for the full box score.
By completing the sweep, the Titans become the first expansion team in NA3HL history to sweep their first playoff series and advance to the divisional finals.