Generals Salvage a Point in Two Game Weekend Series vs. Titans
by Patrick Garriepy
The Northeast Generals wrapped up their most recent homestand this weekend, as they welcomed in the East Division-leading New Jersey Titans to the Sports Village. The Gens got a first-hand look as to why New Jersey is looking like an early favorite in the East this year.
Friday night was the first matchup of the season between the two teams, with Northeast coming into the game as winners in 3 out of their last 4 games. New Jersey, despite leading the division early to this point, entered the night at 2-2 in their last 4 games and 6-2 overall. The Titans also came into the weekend already leading the NAHL in scoring and would flex those muscles in game 1.
It took only two minutes before Brad Zona snapped a wrist shot past a partially-screen Arttu Ruotsalainen, giving the Titans an early lead that they would not relinquish. Less than five minutes after Zona’s goal, Tyler Nasca collected a loose puck at the blue line and snapped off a wrister that was redirected past Ruotsalainen by Joe Glamos. Almost instantly, the Generals were chasing the league’s top offense and facing an uphill battle.
Northeast was able to draw within one when Ricky Boysen (2) collected a puck at the bottom of the left circle and fired home a somewhat-controversial goal at the time as the net had been knocked off one of its moorings. Referees gathered for several minutes to discuss the validity of the goal, inevitably deciding in the Generals favor and putting them back into the contest, but the good times would not last.
New Jersey took control of the game in period 2, scoring three goals as they chased starting goaltender Arttu Ruotsalainen from the game. Goal scorers Kyle Jeffers (4,5) and Jake LaRusso (1) helped put the game out of reach for the Titans. Gerard Marretta would go on to pot his fourth of the season for Northeast, while Matt Cameron and Tyler Nielsen rounded out the scoring for the Titans.
The Generals pressed throughout the night but had little success against New Jersey starter Arseni Sergeev, who finished the night with 30 saves on 32 shots. Ruotsalainen stopped 14 of 18 for the Generals, while Joey Stanizzi made 11 saves in relief of the Finnish netminder.
Game 2 saw a return to the net for Stanizzi, as he would oppose the other half of New Jersey’s two-headed monster in net, Patrick Pugliese. The Generals knew they would need to come out of the gate with greater intensity if they were to keep up with the Titans, and they did just that in period one.
Early on, The Generals carrying were carrying the play with Patrick Pugliese being the response in net for the Titans, weathering the early storm. It wasn’t until the midway point of the period when Gerard Marretta found Liam McCanney streaking to the net mouth – while the initial tip was denied by Pugliese, McCanney (3) corralled his own rebound from beneath the goal line and fired it off the Titans netminder to give the Generals their first lead of the weekend. The Generals outshot the Titans 15-6 in first, playing one of their best periods of the season.
The score would remain the same until early in the second, when the Generals struck again.
Tyler Cooper collected an outlet pass from Jack Ring and motored into the offensive zone at top speed, firing a shot on net that would rebound right to Ethan Destefani. Destefani (3) quickly stashed home the loose puck, doubling Northeast’s lead to 2-0. Ricky Boysen (3) would later join in on the fun, as he fired home a low wrister past Pugliese, giving the Generals a 3-0 lead with less than six minutes remaining in the second period. Despite the Titans continuing to push a little harder throughout the second, Joey Stanizzi remained a rock in net for Northeast, stopping everything New Jersey threw at him. The Generals appeared to be heading into the locker room with their three-goal lead as the clock ticked beneath one minute. Cam Gaudette, called for a slashing infraction, was forced to head to the penalty box. That’s when the Titans began to push harder and started their ascent from the grave.
Michael Outzen won an offensive zone faceoff against Dylan Schuett, posted up at the faceoff dot and awaited a return feed from Matt Cameron on the boards. Camera quickly dished the puck back to Outzen who fired home a quick wrister, beating Stanizzi glove-side and reigniting life on the Titan bench.
By the time the third period began, New Jersey had found its legs and proceeded to dominate the final frame. Their only issue was finding a way to beat Stanizzi, who was locked in as the tides continued to turn against him. After winning the second-period shot battle (17-14), the Titans turned up the intensity in the third and outshot Northeast by a 21-7 margin. Their second strike came with under 7 minutes to go in the game when Matt Cameron would come through once again for the Titans. Cameron tracked down a puck deep in the Generals zone, winning a battle on the boards with Generals defenseman Blake Arneson, then quickly fired a pass to Mac Wiseman who had been cutting in from the blue line. Wiseman instantly collected and shot the puck through a screen past Stanizzi, bringing the league’s top offense back within just a goal. Stanizzi would go on to stop attempt after attempt, stymying the Titans and helping the Generals cling to their one-goal advantage.
By the time the final 20 seconds came around, the Generals looked gassed, and the Titans appeared to only just be getting started. New Jersey recollected themselves in the neutral zone and geared up for one last go. Kyle Jeffers took a Mac Wiseman pass and quickly handed off to Brody Medeiros. Medeiros fired a shot which Stanizzi was able to stop, but the rebound found Jeffers right on the doorstep and the Titans winger made no mistake in sliding the puck into the open net.
The two teams exchanged opportunities in overtime but would need to decide the game in a shootout. Josef Glamos opened by making a slick move and opening up Stanizzi’s five-hole. Glamos calmly slid a backhand along the ice, past Stanizzi, giving New Jersey their first lead of the night. Titans leading-scorer Mitch Machlitt would add a second tally, beating Stanizzi with a wrister and leaving the Generals in a tough spot, needing to score on their next attempt. Patrick Pugliese rebounded from his rough start, stopping both attempts he faced and completing the Titans unbelievable comeback.
The Generals will look to rebound as they head out on the road, starting with a trip to Pennsylvania to play a three-game set with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights. Game 1 takes place on Friday, October 11th at 7 pm.