Tag Archives: Mareks Mitens

Rebels 2016-17 Year in Review begins May 30. 24 Players in 24 Days

The last time we saw the Rebels was back on May 14 when they gave a valiant effort against the Long Star Brahmas in the North American Hockey League’s Robertson Cup Finals where they lost 3 – 0. It was the team’s seventh game in ten days.

Despite the loss in the championship game, the Rebels won their second consecutive East Division Championship, and they had a 46-11-2-1 record for 95 points – the most in the league during the regular season. The team swept the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights three games to none in the divisional semi-finals, defeated the New Jersey Titans three games to two in the divisional finals and then defeated the Aberdeen Wings two games to one in the league’s semi-finals.

The Rebels recorded a league record seventeen shutouts. Goaltender Mareks Mitens was named the league’s Most Valuable Player and Vaughan Goaltender of the Year. Mitens, along with defenseman Brennan Kapcheck, was named to the all NAHL first-team while defenseman Gvido Jansons was selected to the all NAHL second-team. Head coach Joe Coombs was named the league’s top coach.

Forward Gianluca Esteves and defenseman Kolby Vergara were named to the NAHL’s all Robertson Cup tournament team.

The team had five players participate in the league’s Top Prospects Tournament back in February and many players won numerous divisional awards and the organization itself won the East Division’s organizational of the year. Eleven players made NCAA commitments – all division one.

Despite being twenty-two minutes and thirty-one seconds away from winning their first-ever NAHL Championship, the Rebels had a GREAT season.

Beginning on Tuesday, May 30, the Rebels will have a 2016-17 “Year in Review.” The YIR will appear on the team’s Facebook and Twitter pages. It will be a snapshot of 24 players in 24 days. Players will appear alphabetically beginning with Andrew Bellant – the team’s top scorer.

Click here for the team’s Facebook page or here for the team’s Twitter feed.

Yakovlev’s goal in OT sends Rebels to Robertson Cup Finals

Evgeny Yakovlev scored with 2:43 left in overtime to give the Rebels a 2 – 1 win over the Aberdeen Wings and send the Rebels to the North American Hockey League’s Robertson Cup finals tomorrow against the Lone Star Brahmas. It will be the first time in the team’s young history that it has reached the National Championship game.

After a scoreless first period that produced a total of ten shots, the Wings got on the board first at the 2:52 mark of the second period. After a faceoff outside the Wings zone, an Aberdeen defenseman dumped the puck into the Rebels zone. The puck went around the net and up the far side boards where a battle ensued. Carson Dimoff would get the puck and pass it down to Kevin Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald would come behind the Rebels net on a wrap around and beat Mareks Mitens up high to give the Wings a 1 – 0 lead. It was Fitzgerald’s fifth goal of the playoffs.

Despite starting the third period down by one and their season on the line, the Rebels came out hungry. The Rebels would tie it just fifty-three seconds in the final period on Gianluca Esteves’ fifth goal of the playoffs. Brennan Kapcheck would dump the puck into the Wings zone where Esteves would retrieve it behind Aberdeen’s net. He passed it up to the near side faceoff circle to Aaron Maguyon who passed it back to Ryan Solomon.  Maguyon would make a cross-ice pass back to Michael Underwood. Underwood would take a shot that was redirected by Esteves past Wings goalie Forbes Ploszaj to make it a 1 to 1 game.

The Rebels would then start to control the flow of the game. They came close to adding a second goal but Ploszaj had to make several key saves to keep the game tied and send it into overtime for the second straight day.

While the Wings had some changes in the third that were thwarted by Mitens, the Rebels dominated the overtime. Then Kapcheck would start the play at his own goal line. He passed the puck up along the near side boards to Esteves who brought the puck into the Wings zone. Esteves made a drop pass back to Maguyon. The Galloway, NJ native passed it back to a trailing Yakovlev. Yakovlev would make a cross-ice pass back to Gvido Jansons at the point. Jansons would pass it over to Solomon. Solomon would take a shot that was saved by Ploszaj but the deep rebound came out to Yakovlev who put it into an open net to give the Rebels a two-games to one series win over the Wings.

Mitens turned aside 23 of 24 shots while Ploszaj stopped 33 of 35 shots. Click here for the box score.

The Rebels will now face the Lone Star Brahmas tomorrow at 2:00pm ET in a winner take all for the NAHL’s Robertson Cup.

Photo Credit: The Rebels would like to thank John Elftmann for providing photos of today’s game.

Wings top Rebels 3 – 2 in overtime to force deciding game

Gage Mackie’s goal with 3:49 left in overtime gave the Aberdeen Wings a 3 – 2 win over the Aston Rebels to even the Robertson Cup semi-final series one game apiece to force a third and deciding game today at 4:00pm ET. The winner of this series will move on to play the Lone Star Brahmas in the Robertson Cup finals tomorrow.

The Wings jumped out of the gate very quickly – just thirty-two seconds into the game. After a turnover by a Rebels defenseman at center ice, Wings defenseman Andy Carroll entered the offensive zone on a two on one with Colin Raver. As Carroll crossed the blueline he passed the puck over to his left to Raver. Raver took a shot that was saved by Rebels goalie Mareks Mitens but the rebound was picked up by Carter Roo who put it past Mitens to give Aberdeen a 1 – 0 lead.

Mitens and his Wings counterpart Forbes Ploszaj had to make several key saves to keep the score the same through two periods of play. However, as time was winding down in the second Aberdeen’s Colton Fletcher was called for cross-checking with forty Forbes Ploszaj six seconds left in the period.

Down by a goal and entering the third period with a man advantage, the Rebels looked to tie the score early. It didn’t.  After Jensen Zerban won the opening faceoff, the puck went back to Brennan Kapcheck. The Rebels defenseman took the puck behind his own net to set up the play. As Kapcheck skated into the neutral zone he sent an errant pass to his left that was picked up by Raver. Raver sent a bounce pass off the far side boards where it was picked up by Roo who walked in on Mitens and beat him bar down to give the Wings a 2 – 0 lead just eighteen seconds into the third period.

The Rebels then would make sure the dreaded two goal lead theory hold water. After a battle along their near side boards, Rebels forward Dustin Manz would bring the puck up through center ice. As he entered the offensive zone he dumped the puck into the zone. The puck went behind the net and up along the far side boards where it was picked up by Auggie Moore. Moore shot it on net where Ryan Patrick redirected the puck but Ploszaj made a big save but the rebound came out to Manz who put behind Ploszaj to cut the Wings lead in half just 1:41 into the third period.

A minute later the Rebels would tie the game at two. As a Wings defenseman tried to dump the puck out of his zone it was intercepted by Kolby Vegara. Vegara took a shot from the top of near side blueline that beat Ploszaj to knot the game at 2:42 into the third period.

Both teams had their chances to win it in regulation but each goaltender made key saves to key the other team at bay.

As the game entered into overtime and wore on Mitens and Ploszaj had to come up big. Then with time winding down in the extra period, Fletcher would enter the Rebels zone. He carried the puck all the way around the net and back towards the high slot. He took a shot that was redirect by Mackie past Mitens to give the Wings the 3 – 2 win to force the third and deciding game.

Mitens stopped 30 of 33 shots while Ploszaj turned aside 34 of 36. Click here for the box score.

The deciding game will be held today at 4:00pm ET.

Rebels win 4 – 2 over Wings to take one game lead in semi-finals

The Aston Rebels used three points from Drew Blackmun and a strong performance by goaltender Mareks Mitens to lead them to a 4 – 2 win over the Aberdeen Wings The victory gives the Rebels a one game to none advantage in this best-of-three semi-final series.

The Rebels would get on the board first. Kolby Vegara would bring the puck up through center ice and into the Wings zone. As soon as he brought the puck in the zone he passed it to Drew Blackmun on his right. Blackmun would dump the puck into the far side corner where Vegara chased it. Vegara would pick up the puck and send it back to Blackmun along the boards. The Rebels’ assistant captain passed it over to a wide-open Carter Woolley in the slot and he took a one-timer that beat Aberdeen goaltender Forbes Ploszaj short side to make it a 1 – 0 game with 5:57 remaining in the first period. It was Woolley’s first goal of the playoffs.

After a save by Mitens the rebound was picked up by Ryan Patrick. Patrick would bring the puck up through the neutral zone on a two-on-one with Gianluca Esteves. As Patrick brought the puck in the offensive zone he passed it to Esteves on his right. Esteves caught Ploszaj moving and the Winnipeg, MB native took a wrist shot that beat Ploszaj long side to make it a 2 – 0 with 2:37 remaining in the first.

The Rebels would take a 3 – 0 lead on Dom Garica’s first goal of the playoffs. After a draw deep inside the Wings far side zone, Aberdeen defenseman Jack Kelly went to pass the puck up to a teammate but it was intercepted by Garcia in the neutral zone. Garcia brought the puck along the boards and took a wrist shot that beat the netminder high, short side with 6:20 left in the second period.

The momentum of the game then changed to the Wings benefit. After peppering Mitens with shots, the Central Division playoff champions would get on the board with 3:16 left in the middle stanza.

Garcia was called goaltender interference 2:58 left in the period to give the Wings the extra attacker. Colton Fletcher would bring the puck up out of his own end and it the Rebels zone to the top of the near side faceoff circle. Fletcher passed it down low to Carter Roo. Roo started to go to his left but immediately stopped and passed the puck back to Fletcher who was near Mitens blocker side. Fletcher took a shot that beat Mitens long side to make it a 3 – 1 game.

With time running out on the second period and the Rebels playing on their heels, the Wings cut their deficit in half with a second remaining. Blackmun picked up a rebound and brought it behind the Rebels net. As he tried an outlet pass it was intercepted by Kevin Fitzgerald at the far side faceoff circle. Fitzgerald moved slightly forward and beat Mitens for his fourth goal of the playoffs.

Trying to capitalize on their success at the end of the second period, the Wings started the final period strong but Mitens had to make a couple of Grade A saves to maintain the Rebels one goal lead. The Rebels then began to play shutout defense and limited the Wings to minimal shots in the third. Blackmun would then score an empty net goal forty-eight seconds left in the game to make it a 4 – 2 game.

Mitens would turn aside 30 of 32 shots while Ploszaj stopped 20 of 23 shots. Click here for the box score.

The Rebels need one more win to advance the NAHL’s Robertson Cup finals. They play the Wings in game two tomorrow at 5:30pm ET.

Weekend Preview: 5/11 – 5/14. Rebels look to bring home the Robertson Cup

Robertson Cup Preview
The North American Hockey League’s Robertson Cup semi-finals begin today at the Duluth Heritage Sports Center in Duluth, MN. There are two series featuring the number one seed Aston Rebels (East Division) against the number four seed Aberdeen Wings (Central Division) while the number two seed Lone Star Brahmas (South Division) will square off against the number three seed Janesville Jets (Midwest Division). The winner of each best-of-three series will play in winner-take-all finals on Sunday, May 14 at 2:00pm ET.

Aston Rebels Overview
The Rebels were the NAHL’s regular season champions possessing a 46-11-2-1 record for 95 points. Aston swept the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights three games to none in the divisional semi-finals and then defeated the New Jersey Titans three games to two in a thrilling divisional final. The Rebels have never faced either Aberdeen or Lone Star. Aston defeated Janesville very early in the season at the Showcase 4-0.

During the playoffs, the Rebels have been led by three players who each have seven points: Evgeny Yakovlev (4 goals and 3 assists), Gianluca Esteves (3 goals and 4 assists) and Aaron Maguyon (1 goal and 6 assists). Yakovlev, Drew Blackmun and Gvido Jansons each have four goals. Andrew Bellant leads the team in penalty minutes (12) while Jansons has a team high +7 +/- ratio. The Rebels enter the Robertson Cup having scored the most goals of the four teams (28) while they have allowed the second most with twenty. During the playoffs, the Rebels are fourth on the power play converting on 26.1% of the time while they are ranked eleventh on the penalty kill preventing the opposition from scoring 73.7% of the time. Goaltenders Jack Leavy and Mareks Mitens have a combined 2.32 goals against average and a .891 save percentage.

Lone Star Brahmas
The Lone Star Brahmas finished in first in the South Division during the regular season with a 44-14-2 record for 90 points. They defeated the Wichita Falls Wildcats three games to none in the divisional semi-finals and then beat the Corpus Christi Ice Rays three games to two in the divisional finals.

The Brahmas are led by Drake Glover’s seven points (3 goals and four assists). Three players each have six points: Carson Kelley (4 goals and 2 assists), Troy York (4 goals and 2 assists) and Hunter Stanley (1 goal and 5 assists). Kelley and York lead the team with four goals respectively. John Zimmerman leads the team in penalty minutes with ten while Kelley leads the team in plus/minus ratio with +5. Lone Star is tied with the Wings for having scored twenty-three goals while the Brahmas have allowed the second least amount of goals with eighteen. Lone Star is ranked sixth during the playoffs on the power play converting twenty percent of the time while they are ranked eighth on the penalty kill preventing the opposition from scoring 85.7% of the time.  Max Prawdzik has played in six games between the pipes. He has a 1.83 goals against average and a .911 save percentage with two shutouts.

Janesville Jets
The Jets won the regular season Midwest Division championship with a 42-13-1-4 record for 89 points. They defeated the Coulee Region Chill three games to none in the divisional semi-finals and then beat the defending NAHL champion Fairbanks Ice Dogs three games to one in the divisional finals.

Janesville is led by Kip Hoffman’s eleven points (7 goals and 4 assists). Hoffman also leads the team with four goals. Forward Keegan Miller has the most penalty minutes with ten while Hoffman also has the team’s best +/- ratio with +10. The Jets have scored the second most goals with 25 while they have allowed the least with thirteen. During the playoffs, the Jets are ranked twelfth on the power play converting 11.1% of the time while they are thirteenth on the penalty kill having prevent the opposition from scoring 66.7% of the time.            Jacob Barczewski have played in all seven of the Jets’ playoff games. He has a 1.72 goals against average and a .935 save percentage with one shutout. Local native alert: Audubon, NJ native and former Team Comcast defenseman Colin Felix plays on the Jets.

Aberdeen Wings
The Wings finished in fourth in the Central Division during the regular season with a 29-24-3-4 record for 65 points. However, the Wings had the best record in the division during the last thirty games of the regular season. Aberdeen defeated Central Division regular season champion Minot Minotauros three games to one during the divisional semi-finals and then defeated the Minnesota Wilderness three games to two during the divisional finals.

Aberdeen is led by Kevin Fitzgerald’s nine points (3 goals and 6 assists) and Colin Raver (6 goals and 2 assists) and Carson Dimoff’s (4 goals and 4 assists) eight points. Raver leads the team with six goals. The Wings have four players respective with twelve penalty minutes (Colton Fletcher, Jack Kelly, Dusan Kmec and Riley Murphy). Three players (Filip Dusek, Dimoff and Fitzgerald) each have a +3 +/- ratio. The Wings have the most goals of the four remaining playoff teams with twenty-three. The Wings are ranked ninth on the power play during the playoffs converting on 12.5% of the time while they ranked seventh on the penalty kill having prevent the opposition from scoring 90% of the time. Forbes Ploszaj has played in all nine playoff games posting a 2.20 goals against average and a .922 save percentage with one shutout.

Robertson Cup Schedule

Rebels vs. Wings
Game 1: Thursday, May 11 at 5:30pm (ET)
Game 2: Friday, May 12 at 5:30pm (ET)
Game 3: Saturday, May 13 at 4:00pm (ET) – if necessary

Lone Star Brahmas vs. Janesville Jets
Game 1: Thursday, May 11 at 8:30pm (ET)
Game 2: Friday, May 12 at 8:30pm (ET)
Game 3: Saturday, May 13 at 7:00pm (ET) – if necessary

NAHL Championship Game
Sunday, May 14 at 2:00pm (ET) – winner of Rebels/Wings vs. winner of Brahmas/Jets

Titans blank Rebels 4 – 0 to stay alive in divisional finals

New Jersey Titans goaltender Ryan Ferland turned aside all twenty-two shots he faced as he and his teammates defeated the visiting Aston Rebels 4 – 0 to stave off elimination in this best-of-five divisional finals. The Rebels lead the series two games to one.

From the opening puck drop to the game ending siren, the Titans completely dominated the Rebels. They used shutdown defense and limited the Rebels to essentially all perimeter shots.

The Titans took their very first lead in the series when they opened the scoring at the 5:15 mark of the first period. New Jersey’s Hunter Alden prevented the Rebels from breaking out of their own zone by intercepting an outlet pass. He then immediately took a shot but it went wide and into the near side corner where it was picked up by Gordie Helmuth. Helmuth slowly brought the puck up along the boards and then passed it back to Tiernan Seningen. As Helmuth skated to the top of the slot Seningen passed it to Helmuth who took a one-timer that was initially saved by Rebels goalie Mareks Mitens but the deep rebound came directly back to Helmuth who put it past the fallen Rebels netminder to make it 1 – 0 game.

Aston was fortunate that the first period ended only trailing 1 – 0 because they were outshot 15 – 6 in the opening period.

Although the Rebels came out more focused in the second New Jersey continued to pressure. Mitens had to make several key saves, including a breakaway, to keep the visitors in the game. With time winding down in the second, Nick Boyagian brought the puck out of his own zone on a three-on-two. As Boyagian entered the neutral zone he passed it to his right to Danny Eruzione. As Eruzione would bring the puck into the offensive zone he would pass the puck Andrew Husted on his right. Husted was looking for a give and go but the puck went into the far side corner. Eruzione would pick up the puck down low and passed it out in front to Boyagian who beat Mitens to give the Titans a 2 – 0 with 2:27 left in the second period.

The Titans would go up 3 – 0 with 5:32 into the final period. Zach Parrott would send a long stretch pass to Todd Goehring who was skating up along the far side boards. Goerhring found a streaking Dylan Healey in the slot and Healey would put it passed Mitens for his first goal of the playoffs.

New Jersey would finish the scoring on an empty net goal by Goerhring with thirty-six seconds left in the game. Mitens stopped 28 of 31 shots. Click here for the box score.

Game four is tonight at 7:30pm at Middletown’s Ice World. Should there be a game five it will be played tomorrow night at 7:00pm at IceWorks.

Weekend Preview: 5/5 – 5/7. Divisional Final round moves to New Jersey. Rebels one win away from advancing to semi-finals

The East Division finals will resume this weekend with the Rebels up two games to none against the New Jersey Titans in this best-of-five series. Game three will be played on Friday at Middletown’s Ice World at 7:30pm. Game four would be on Saturday at 7:30pm at Ice World if needed. Should the series go to a fifth and final game, it would be played on Sunday, May 7 at 7:00pm at IceWorks. The winner of this series will go onto the Robertson Cup semi-finals which begins on Thursday, May 11 in Duluth, MN.

Closing out the series is the hardest thing to do, and during the course of the regular season the Rebels had a losing record on the road against the Titans, winning only two of six games. This has been an extremely hard fought series – typical playoff hockey with excellent goaltending, physical and fast play.

“This has been a great series” stated Rebels head coach Joe Coombs. “Yes, we are up but don’t be fooled. Each game could have gone either way. I think Saturday night was an overall great game for both teams. New Jersey is very fast. Craig and his staff have done an outstanding job. We need one more win and it will be extremely tough. We can’t afford to make any mistakes or New Jersey will make us pay for it” concluded Coombs.

The Rebels have outscored the Titans eight goals to four in the two games. Max Andreev leads the Titans with two goals against Aston. Andreev and Oskar Stromberg each have two points in the series. The Titans are one for three on the power play (33%). Titans goalie Ryan Ferland has played in both games. He possesses a 3.50 goals against average and a .865 save percentage.

The Rebels have used a balanced attack in this series with all eight goals being scored by different players. In fact, six players (Andrew Bellant, Gianluca Esteves, Dom Garcia, Brennan Kapcheck, Aaron Maguyon and Adam Peck) have two points respectively. The Rebels are one for six on the power play (17%). Saturday night’s power play goal was the first power play goal allowed by the Titans during the playoffs. Mareks Mitens has played in both games in the series. He has a 2.00 goals against average and a .894 save percentage.

New Jersey Titans Overview
During the playoffs the Titans have been led by three players with three points each: Jordan Kaplan (3 goals), Todd Goehring (2 goals and 1 assist) and Stromberg (all assists). Kaplan has the most goals with three. Nick Boyagian has two game winning goals for New Jersey. Goehring leads the team in penalty minutes with 25 while Tyler Antonucci has a team best +3 +/- ratio.

The Titans have scored eleven goals in five playoff games which is last of the eight remaining teams in the playoffs. They have allowed eleven goals in the playoffs which is tied for second with the Rebels for least allowed. They have scored 13.3% of the time on the power play and have prevented the opposition from scoring with the extra attacker 95% of the time (third best in the playoffs).

Ferland had a 2.00 goals against average and a .923 save percentage. He has played every minute in the playoffs for the Titans.

Aston Rebels Overview
The Rebels have been led by three players in the playoffs who each have five points: Esteves (2 goals and 3 assists), Jensen Zerban (2 goals and 3 assists) and Kapcheck (1 goal and 4 assists). Drew Blackmun and Gvido Jansons each have three goals. Jansons has a +8 +/- ratio during the playoffs while four players each have a team high four penalty minutes.

The Rebels have scored twenty goals in five playoff games (third best of the eight remaining teams). Aston is fourth in the playoffs on the power play converting on 27.8% of their chances while they are seventh of the remaining teams on the penalty kill with preventing the opposition from scoring 68.8% of the time.

Mitens possesses a 2.01 goals against average and a .902 save percentage.

Manz’s goal gives Rebels 3 – 2 win over Titans and a two-game lead in divisional finals

Dustin Manz’s goal with 9:37 left in the game gave the Aston Rebels a 3 – 2 win over the visiting New Jersey Titans. The victory gives the Rebels’ a two games to none lead in the Robertson Cup’s best-of-five Divisional Final Series. Should they win one more game next weekend the team will advance to the league’s semi-finals beginning on May 11 in Duluth, MN.

This was classic playoff hockey: fast paced, up and down action with both teams having excellent scoring chances countered by excellent goaltending. It was a game with limited penalties and the duration lasted only two hours and six minutes.

Using the same formula as Friday night the Rebels got on the board first very early in the opening period. Gvido Jansons brought the puck out of his own near side boards and passed it up to Andrew Bellant in the neutral zone. Bellant dumped the puck into the Titans zone where it went into their far side corner. Dom Garcia battled for the puck in the corner and passed it up slightly along the boards to Drew Blackmun. Blackmun would skate around the faceoff circle and took a wrist shot that beat New Jersey’s goalie Ryan Ferland short side to give the Rebels a 1 – 0 just 1:17 into the game.

Unlike Friday night, however, the Titans would counter roughly four minutes later. As the Titans started to bring the puck out of their zone there was a breakdown in the Rebels forechecking. Anthony Cusanelli would bring the puck out and passed it over to Tiernan Seningen on his right. Seningen would bring the puck up along the near side boards and into the Rebels zone on a two-on-one with Maxim Andreev. Andreev would go around Rebels defenseman Andrew Noel and passed the puck over an outstretched Adam Peck in the slot to Andreev who redirected it passed Mareks Mitens to tie the game at one at 5:04 into the opening period.

With 8:49 remaining in the first, New Jersey’s Tyler Antonucci would be called for slashing to put the Rebels on the power play. After an in-close save by Ferland a Titans defenseman dumped the puck all the way behind the Rebels net where it was brought up by Brennan Kapcheck. As Kapcheck exited his own zone he passed the puck up to Jensen Zerban As Zerban entered the Titans zone he passed it to Dom Garcia on his left. Garcia would make a reverse play and send the puck back to Kapcheck at the near side point. Kapcheck would pass it over to Gvido Jansons at the top of the point and he took a blast that beat Ferland short side to give the Rebels a 2 – 1 lead with 7:40 left in the period. It was Jansons’ third goal of the playoffs – all coming on the power play. It also happened to be the very first power play goal that New Jersey has allowed during the playoffs.

Just as the second period hit the midway point, Cusanelli would bring the puck up along his far side points into the Rebels zone on a three-on-three. As Cusanelli skated to the top of the faceoff circle he left a drop pass to Tyler Antonucci. Antonucci simply shot the puck on net but it was redirected by Andreev pasted Mitens to tie the game at two.

While the fans from both teams started to feel the anxiety of the tight play as the game headed to the middle of the third period, it was the Rebels second youngest player who would change its outcome.

As the Rebels dumped the puck into the Titans far side corner Peck went to dig it out and pass it up slightly to Ryan Patrick. Patrick would push the puck back to Manz who sent it back to Kapcheck at the point. Kapcheck took a shot on net that was blocked out in front by a Titans’ defenseman but the puck came out to Manz at the top of the slot. Manz would skate to his left and take a backhand shot that went passed Ferland up high to give the Rebels a 3 – 2 lead. It was the Vanderbilt, MI native’s second goal of the playoffs.

Mitens stopped 18 of 20 shots while Ferland turned aside 23 of 26. Click here for the box score.

With the win the Rebels are one victory away from advancing to their second straight league semi-finals. However, the series now shifts back to New Jersey next weekend where the Rebels only won two out of six games during the regular season. Game three is slated for Friday, May 5 at 7:30pm at Middletown’s Ice World.

Rebels win 5 – 2 to take game one of divisional finals

The Aston Rebels used a balanced scoring attack to earn a 5 – 2 win over the visiting New Jersey Titans to take a one game to none lead in this best-of-five divisional final series.

The Rebels completely dominated the first period, in terms of shots on goal (11 – 2) and, most importantly, on the score board.

The East Division champions got on the board early with Adam Peck scoring his first goal of the playoffs just two minutes into the game. All-NAHL First Team defenseman Brennan Kapcheck intercepted a Titans’ outlet pass along the far side boards and carried the puck into the New Jersey zone. As Kapcheck brought the puck deep in the zone he threw it towards the net where it was tipped out in front by Ryan Patrick. Kapcheck continued to circle behind the Titans net and picked up the loose puck. As he skated back to the top of the near side point he took a shot that was saved by New Jersey’s goalie Ryan Ferland but Peck picked up the rebound and put it behind Ferland to give the Rebels a 1 – 0 lead.

The Rebels then would take a 2 – 0 at the 6:04 mark of the opening period. Gianluca Esteves brought the puck out behind his own net and started to skate up towards center ice. Esteves head manned the puck to Kolby Vegara who carried the puck into the Titans zone on a three on two. As Vegara entered the offensive zone he passed the puck to his left to Evgeny Yakovlev at the top of the near side faceoff circle. The Belgorod, Russian native took a snap shot that was saved by Ferland but Aaron Maguyon was left all alone in the slot and tapped in the rebound past Ferland for his first goal of the playoffs.

The Rebels would make it 3 – 0 just thirteen seconds into the second period. Esteves would win the draw at the Titans far side faceoff circle. The puck was picked up by Maguyon at the boards and he made a drop back to Esteves. The Winnipeg, Manitoba native circled behind the Titans net and passed it out front to Yakovlev who tipped it passed Ferland to give the Rebels a three-goal lead.

But you can never underestimate the Titans. They are a very fast and well coached team and don’t give up. And they would get back into the game by playing gritty Titan hockey.

New Jersey’s Ryan Wheeler and the Rebels Andrew Bellant were called for coincidental penalties but the Titans would get the extra attacker when Drew Blackmun was assessed a slashing penalty with almost nine minutes left in the second period to put New Jersey on the power play. With time winding down with the man advantage, Danny Eruzione had the puck in the Rebels far side corner. He passed it back to the point to Hunter Alden who passed it over to his left to Oskar Stromberg. Stromberg took a one-timer that was redirected out front by Gordie Helmuth past Mareks Mitens to make it a 3 – 1 game with 7:23 left in the middle stanza. It was only the Titans six shot on goal in the game.

New Jersey would cut the deficit to one with 2:31 left in the period. After the puck was taken off of Esteves’ stick, it went to Stromberg at the top of his far side faceoff circle. The Rebels got caught on a bad line change and Stromberg passed it up to Dylan Healey who entered the Aston zone on a two on one with Jordan Kaplan. As Healey got to the faceoff circle he passed the puck to Kaplan on his left. Kaplan took a shot that went through Mitens five hole to make it a 3 – 2.

The third period was very fast paced and up and down play. With 2:37 left in the game Esteves would give the Rebels a 4 – 2 lead.  With New Jersey’s Zach Parrott looking to breakout of his own zone he tried to passed it one of his teammates but it was intercepted by Bellant at the blueline. Bellant immediately took a shot that was saved by Ferland but the deep rebound came right out to the trailing Esteves who beat Ferland to give the Rebels a two-goal lead.

Bellant would score an empty net goal with four second remaining to give the Rebels a 5 – 2 win.

Mitens would turn aside 16 of 18 shots while Ferland stopped 22 of 26 shots. Click here for the box score.

Game two of this best-of-five series is tonight at 7:00pm at IceWorks.

Weekend Preview: 4/28 – 4/29. Divisional Finals begin at home against Titans

The North American Hockey League’s Divisional Final series begins this weekend pitting the East Division’s number one seed Aston Rebels against the number three seed New Jersey Titans. The winner of this best-of-five series will advance to the League’s Robertson Cup semi-finals which begins on Thursday, May 11 in Duluth, MN. Each game this weekend will be played at IceWorks.

Both teams swept their respective series three games to none to advance to this round: the Rebels defeated the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights while the Titans defeated the number two seed Johnstown Tomahawks.

Rebels vs. Titans regular season overview
The Rebels defeated the Titans seven out of twelve times this season, with five of the wins coming on home ice while four of the Rebels’ wins were shutouts (2 home and 2 away). The last time these two teams played each other was on April 5 at Middletown’s Ice World when the Rebels blanked the Titans 5 – 0. Jack Leavy turned aside all 27 shots he faced for his sixth shutout on the season. Andrew Hart had two goals.

The Rebels outscored the Titans by the score of 35 to 23 during the twelve games. Aston went 10 for 45 (22%) on the power play during the season against New Jersey while the Titans went 7 for 43 (16%). The Titans were led by Dylan Healy’s seven points (4 goals and 3 assists) while Danny Eruzione (1 goal and 5 assists) and Jordan Kaplan (3 goals and 3 assists) each had six points. Healy scored the most goals against the Rebels with six. New Jersey’s goaltenders have a combined 2.92 goals against average and a .892 save percentage. Brandon Perrone has played in six of the twelve games carrying a 2.33 goals against average and a .907 save percentage against the Rebels. Ryan Ferland has played in the three most recent games against Aston. He has a 2.67 goals against average and a .897 save percentage.

Andrew Bellant (4 goals and 5 assists), Gianluca Esteves (3 goals and 6 assists) and Aaron Maguyon (2 goals and 7 assists) each had nine goals against the Titans. Bellant and Brennan Kapcheck had four goals against New Jersey respectively. Mareks Mitens and Leavy had a combined 1.92 goals against average and a .919 save percentage. Each had two shutouts. Mitens has appeared in eight of the games posting a 1,85 goals against average and a .919 save percentage.

Titans Playoff Overview
The Titans have scored seven goals (tied for eleventh in the post season) and have allowed three (least amount in the league) during the playoffs. Todd Goehring leads the team in points with three (2 goals and 1 assist). He is followed by Nick Boyagian (2 goals and 0 assists), Jordan Kaplan (2 goals and 0 assists) and Anthony Cusanelli (1 goal and 1 assist) two points respectively. Goehring, Boyagian and Kaplan have six out of the seven Titans goals in the playoffs.

Boyagian has two of the Titans game winning goals while Goehring leads the team in penalty minutes with 25. Three players have a +3+/- ratio. New Jersey is ranked twelfth on the power play (8.3%) and tied for first for the least amount of goals allowed shorthanded. They have not given up a power play goal during the playoffs.

Ferland leads all NAHL goalies in the playoffs with a .99 goals against average. He is second in the league with a .962 save percentage. He has one shutout.

Rebels Playoff Overview
The Rebels have scored twelve goals (fifth best in the playoffs) and have allowed seven (tied for fifth) in three playoff games. Jensen Zerban leads the team in total points with five (2 goals and 3 assists). Five different players have three points each. Zerban, Drew Blackmun and Gvido Jansons each have two goals.

Esteves, Jansons and Zerban each have a game winning goal. Dustin Manz and Auggie Moore lead the team in penalty minutes with four respectively. Zerban has a +5 +/- ratio. The Rebels are ranked third on the power play with a 33% conversion ratio while they are thirteenth in which they have prevented the opposition from scoring 69.2% of the time.

Mitens and Leavy have a combined 2.33 goals against average and a .891 save percentage.

Divisional Final Series Schedule
Game 1: Friday, April 28 at 7:00pm at IceWorks
Game 2: Saturday, April 29 at 7:00pm at IceWorks
Game 3: Friday, May 5 at 7:30pm at Middletown’s Ice World
Game 4: Saturday, May 6 at 7:30pm at Middletown’s Ice World (if necessary)
Game 5: Sunday, May 7 at 7:00pm at IceWorks (if necessary)