The visiting New Jersey Titans inaugural season came to an end last night at the New England Sports Village as they lost 4 – 1 to the Northeast Generals in game three of the best-of-three NA3HL Divisional Finals, eliminating the Titans from advancing to the NA3HL’s Fraser Cup tournament.
The Titans got off to a start like they did in Friday’s victory when Brett Bell put the Red Buckets on the board just 3:16 into the opening period. After the Titans won the faceoff deep in their own zone, Brandon Avezov brought the puck up along the near side boards. As he gained the line, he passed it to Bell on his left. Bell cut towards the slot and took a wrist shot that tricked through the five hole of Generals netminder Patrick Colburn and into the net to make it 1 – 0.
Unfortunately, Friday night’s start and result didn’t translate into last night’s game.
With 2:44 left in the first period, Northeast’s Carson Asper tied the game at one. As Asper brought the puck into the Titans zone by the near side boards, he started to skate towards the far boards but sent a drop pass to Tyler Kaminski. Kaminski took a shot that went wide of the net, but the puck bounced off the end boards to the left of the Titans cage where Asper took a sharp angle shot that beat Ethan Kavanagh short side for his second goal of the playoffs.
Jacob Kosinski gave the Generals the lead at 3:14 into the second period. As time was expiring on a Generals penalty, Northeast dumped the puck into the Titans net where Kavanagh set it up for Justin Cohn. As Cohn was circling behind his own net, he was checked off the puck, which went towards the slot and picked up by Kaminski. Kaminski took a quick shot that was saved by Kavanagh, but the rebound came right out to Kosinski who knocked in the rebound past Kavanagh to make it a 2 – 1 game.
With 7:54 remaining in the middle stanza, Tanner Smith was called for roughing. A minute later the Generals doubled their lead. After having to reset their play outside the Titans blueline, Northeast’s Nick Wracker brought the puck into the offensive zone and immediately passed the biscuit through his legs to Gijs De Schepper. As De Schepper skated down the near side boards, he passed the puck to Ben Pizzimenti in the high slot and Pizzimenti took a wrist shot that beat Kavanagh long side to make it 3 – 1.
Pizzimenti scored his second goal of the contest with 4:06 remaining to put the game out of reach and close out the scoring.
Kavanagh, who played exceptionally well and had to make several key saves to keep the Titans in close, stopped 48 of 52 shots while Colburn turned aside 21 of 22. Click here for the box score.
Despite the loss, it was a great start for the program. After relocating from Tyngsborough, MA as the New England Stars and with only one returner, the Titans started from scratch to win 16 regular season games for 36 points in a very untypical year due to COVID-19. Having played nine of their first eleven games at home, the season was abruptly halted due to the pandemic. The team had to temporarily relocate to Massachusetts where they resumed play in early February and proceeded to play 19 games in seven weeks.
After finishing the regular season in third place, they swept the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks in two games in the East Division semi-finals to advance to the East Division finals against the top seed Generals, a team the Titans finished 28 points behind in the regular season.
No one game the Titans much of a chance, but they held together and persevered and took the team with the fifth most points in the league to a third and deciding game was very impressive.