Home and Home – Battle for First
This weekend sees the Rebels taking on the first place New Jersey Titans in a home and home series. Currently the Titans lead the Rebels by one point in the standings, so this will be a huge weekend for both teams. The last time these two teams met the Rebels defeated the Titans by a score of 4-1. The game saw a two-goal effort from Colton McMenamin, something that McMenamin will surely be looking to repeat this weekend against New Jersey. The Titans are currently riding high on a four game winning streak, and will be looking to keep that rolling to help widen themselves from both the Rebels and the Johnstown Tomahawks, who currently trail the Titans by three points in third place.
Who’s Hot for the Titans?
Bruno Birzitis has been the Titans best player offensively so far this season, leading the team with 32 points in 44 games. While Birzitis has certainly been consistent, Robert Smits has seemingly become the Titans hottest player as of late. Smits has only participated in 11 games thus far this season and has registered 11 points. Over the Titans latest 4-game win streak Smits has recorded 6 points including 2 goals and an assist in his latest game. The Rebels will have to look to slow down the sizzling Smits if they want to keep pucks out of their net this weekend.
Keys to Victory
The Rebels will need to come out of the gate quick and get a jump on the first place Titans both nights. One large factor this weekend will be the Rebels taking advantage of their top tier special teams against the Titans struggling special teams units. The Rebels have consistently sat in the two to five range for top power play this year, while the Titans are fifth worst in the league with an 18% power play conversion rate and 81% penalty kill percentage. The Rebels will be looking to draw penalties to let their high caliber power play units get to work on the weak New Jersey PK. If the Rebels can succeed with special teams and successfully shut down the Titans’ top scorers then they will be looking at good odds at coming out of this weekend as the sole placeholders of first place in the Eastern Division.