It was a typical first preseason game for both teams. They were feeling out the process – for themselves and each other. At times the passing wasn’t as crisp as it would be in the middle of the season but there were growing pains.
All in all it was a good night for the home team. While last year’s division championship team was built more on older players and height, this year’s team is younger and definitely faster, a lot faster and it showed.
Rebels forward Evgeny Yakovlev was called for holding six minutes into the first period. New Jersey took its time in setting up the play while having a man positioned in the slot at all times. As they worked the puck, forward Nick Vlahos passed the puck down low in the middle of the far side faceoff circle to defenseman Will Riedell. Riedell found his blue line partner Oscar Stromberg skate to the top of the nearside faceoff circle and took a one-time shot that beat Rebels goalie Joel DeSimone through a screen top shelf giving the Titans an 1 – 0.
As the second period began, the Rebels dug themselves a bigger hole. Titans forward Kyle Perkowski brought the puck into the offensive zone and he went around a Rebels defenseman. As Perkowski cut across the slot, DeSimone tried to poke check the puck off of him. He did but the puck went off a Rebels defenseman to give the away team a 2 – 0 lead with three minutes into the second period.
Less then a minute later, Rebels forward Jensen Zerban changed the course of the game. Carter Woolley brought the puck out of the Rebels zone. He passed it up to Cody McLean. McLean looked towards his right and found Zerban at the top of the faceoff circle who took a hard wrister that beat Titans goalie Harrison Feeney long side to put the Rebels on the board at the 16:38 mark of the second period.
Three minutes later Yakovlev headman the puck to Zerban. Zerban found Carter Woolley on his left. Zerban made a nice pass to Woolley who shielded the puck well from a Titans defenseman and swooped in on Feeney and put it between the goalie’s legs to tie the game at two.
At the midway point of the second period, the Rebels would score their third goal within six minutes as it was Yakovlev again who brought the puck into the Titans zone and found defenseman Gvido Jansons on this left. Jansons circled behind the Titans net and took a short side shot that Feeney couldn’t control and the puck slide in behind him giving the home team a 3 – 2 lead.
Rebels forward Gianluca Esteves would score an unassisted goal with four minutes left in the final period to give the Rebels a 4 – 2 lead.
The teams will play again tonight at Middletown’s Ice World at 7:30pm.