New Jersey finally prevails in the second overtime, advances to face Anchorage for NAHL title
Down three times in the second and third periods, the New Jersey Titans refused to die, and got a power play goal in the second overtime versus the New Mexico Ice Wolves to reach the NAHL title game.
BLAINE, Minn. -- There is only one way to beat the New Jersey Titans in the playoffs it seems.
“If you’re going to beat us, you’ll have to kill us,” said Titans coach Craig Doremus. And with one game left in the NAHL season, the Titans are proving very hard to kill.
They were two minutes from seeing their season end on Sunday versus the New Mexico Ice Wolves, but prevailed with a power play goal in the second overtime, winning 4-3 to advance to the Robertson Cup title game.
New Jersey will face the expansion Anchorage Wolverines on Tuesday night at the Ice House in Blaine, with the winner hoisting the NAHL’s top trophy.
Brendan Dumas had a pair of goals for the Titans on Sunday, after they lost game one of the best-of-three series but prevailed in overtime on Saturday and in double overtime in the finale. Goalie Andrew Takacs, who is committed to Colgate, had 46 saves in the win.
As well as praising his team, Doremus had nothing but good things to say about the Ice Wolves and their coach, Phil Fox, after the effort over the three games.
“That’s an incredible hockey team … I want to tip my cap to them,” Doremus said. “I just told Phil he’s one of the classiest guys I’ve dealt with in all my years here and I’m a better coach today than I was three days ago when I started coaching against him.”
New Mexico took 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 leads but could not get any separation, and they took four penalties in the two overtime periods, including a five-minute major that eventually led to the series-winning goal.
“Obviously it stings. You hate giving up one in the third like that with a buck-thirty left. That’s always hard,” said Fox, who was named the NAHL coach of the year. “You’ve got to be smart in overtime and you can’t be taking penalties.”
After a tight first period, the Ice Wolves opened the second with an exclamation point. While killing a penalty, Alex Gomez picked off a loose puck and sprung himself on a shorthanded breakaway. It ended with the lanky center shoveling the puck one-handed between the New Jersey goalie’s pads.
The Titans answered and tied the game on a Dumas shot that made it through a crowd and over the line. But New Mexico’s power play, which had struggled, finally clicked later in the second to give the Ice Wolves a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.
After Dumas’ second goal of the game tied it 2-2 for the Titans, New Mexico defenseman Jack Dalton had a pretty individual rush to the net that was capped off with his first goal of the playoffs to put the Ice Wolves up 3-2. Dalton had been a late addition to the lineup after Ice Wolves defenseman Gustav Blom was injured in Saturday night’s overtime win by the Titans.
“I’ve got to give Jack all the credit in the world. He’s done that for us this year, time in and time out,” Fox said.
New Jersey pulled the goalie and managed an extra attacker goal with 90 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. The first extra session was a back-and-forth affair with both teams killing two penalties and both goalies standing strong.
Right winger Ryan Coughlin, who is committed to Mercyhurst, finally finished it in the second overtime. Their coach said that playing all of his players in the extra session may have kept them fresh.
“I’m the type of coach that I don’t overreact to any situation,” he said. “Despite being down or up, stick to what you believe.”
Ice Wolves goalie Beni Halasz finished with 37 saves in the loss.
New Jersey 4, New Mexico 3, 2OT
New Mexico 0-2-1-0-0—3
New Jersey 0-1-2-0-1—4
First period — No scoring. Penalties — William Howard, NM (roughing), 0:19; Anthony Mollica, NJ (roughing), 0:19; Owen Luik, NJ (slashing), 4:02; Dillan Bentley, NM (cross checking), 19:18.
Second period — 1. NM, Alex Gomez 2 (unassisted), 0:25, (sh). 2. NJ, Brendan Dumas 2 (Tommy Bannister), 6:07. 3. NM, Brandon Holt 1 (Howard), 13:12, (pp). Penalties — Bentley, NM (roughing), 1:58; Dumas, NJ (tripping), 12:26; Eric Charpentier, NJ (holding), 14:37.
Third period — 4. NJ, Dumas 3 (unassisted), 4:36. 5. NM, Jack Dalton 1 (Tony Leahy), 7:31. 6. NJ, Anthony Calafiore 3 (Nick Ring, David Posma), 18:30, (ea). Penalties — None.
Overtime 1 — No scoring. Penalties — Dumas, NJ (hooking), 3:17; Leahy, NM (tripping), 5:32; Nikolai Dulak NM (high sticking), 8:24; Chris Carroll, NJ (tripping), 12:19.
Overtime 2 — 7. NJ, Ryan Coughlin 6 (Bannister), 12:55, (pp). Penalties — Leahy, NM (holding), 6:12; Howard, NM (5-checking from behind, 10-misconduct), 9:46.
Shots on goal — NM 11-9-12-10-7—49; NJ 6-7-12-8-8—41. Goalies — Beni Halasz, NM (41 shots-37 saves); Andrew Takacs, NJ (49-46). Power plays — NM 1-of-6, NJ 1-of-8. Referees — Luke Gagnon, Austin O'Rourke. Linesmen — Ben Gawlik, Jacob Paugh. Att. — 1,022.