The first-place New Jersey Titans came to town to take on the Maryland Black Bears Friday night. Entering the contest, the Titans had an 18-2-1 record and had not lost to a team twice yet this season. That changed with the Black Bears used a two-goal third period to defeat the Titans 4-2.
The lone goal in the first period was converted by Maryland forward Jackson Sterrett to make it 1-0, Black Bears. Filip Jakobsson kept the puck in the zone as New Jersey tried to clear, leading eventually to a Thomas Jarmin shot that was knocked in by Sterrett on the doorstep. Both goalies, Patrick Pugliese for New Jersey and Andrew Takacs for Maryland, made big saves to keep their teams in the game.
The Titans opened the scoring in the second period with the NAHL’s leading scorer, Mitch Machlitt, scoring his 16th goal of the season. The puck was bouncing around in front and Machlitt lifted the puck on the backhand over Takacs for the tie. Kyle Oleksiuk responded for Maryland, taking an Aidan McDowell pass all alone in front of the net and made a great backhand to forehand move to score to make it 2-1. New Jersey was able to tie the game before the period was over, as Danny Dimon let a shot go from the point that bounced off the blocker of Takacs and in to make it 2-2.
The third-period scoring was dominated by the Black Bears to put the game away. Luke Mountain got the eventual game-winning goal with a wrist shot beating Pugliese top right side to make it 3-2. Ethan Heidepriem capped off the scoring with a shorthanded goal to make it 4-2. He received a pass from Reid Leibold and walked in alone, making a fake pass then a fake shot to get a wide-open net for a goal. The win puts Maryland keeps Maryland in fourth place of the East Division with 24 points.
Game two of the two-game series takes place on Saturday night at Piney Orchard Ice Arena with a puck drop of 7:00 PM ET.