It was playoff hockey! There was end-to-end play. There was tight checking. There was great goaltending. There were scoring changes, and there were some bounces that went each team’s way. But in the end, the Rebels played basic hockey and relied on the steady goaltending of Darion Hanson to shutout the New Jersey Titans 3 – 0 last night at Middletown’s Ice World. The win moved the Rebels within a point of first place. The win also gave the Rebels three points out of a possible four against the Titans this weekend.
With 10:09 into the first period, New Jersey’s Adam Hascic was called for checking from behind putting the Rebels on the power play. The power play lasted all of seven seconds. Dean Balsamo won the draw deep in the Titans zone and the puck went back to the point to Jerry Miettuten. Miettuten found Frank Spellman down low. Spellman made a one-time pass to an open Balsamo in the slot who put the puck through the five hole of Titans goalie Jack Berry giving the Rebels a 1 – 0 lead. It was Balsamo’s 23rd goal on the season and second this weekend.
Although no goals were scored in the middle period, each team had scoring chances but Hanson and Berry made some nice saves to keep their respective team in the game.
As the final period began with the Rebels clinging onto a one goal lead and the puck in the Titans zone, defenseman Brennan Kapcheck intercepted a pass at the point and threw a shot onto the Titans net that went slightly wide right of the it. However, Jensen Zerban was there to pick up the puck off the boards and wrap it around the net just beating Berry to give the Rebels a 2 – 0 lead with 2:17 into the third period.
With both teams playing well, the Rebels received two welcomed bounces that went their way. The Titans were pressuring the puck in the Rebels zone. New Jersey’s Brad Becker took a point blank shot that Hanson made but the puck slid through his pad. As the puck was headed into the net, Rebels defenseman Ryan Solomon was there to stop the puck before it crossed the goal line and cleared it out of harms way. Then as the Titans reentered the Rebels zone, a Titans defenseman took a blast from the point that forward Dom Garcia blocked with his skate and the puck caromed onto Solomon’s stick who then dumped the puck into the Titans zone.
With time winding down and the Rebels pressuring in the Titans zone, Drew Blackmun intercepted a Titans outlet pass at the point and then took a blazing shot that beat Berry glove side to give the Rebels a 3 – 0 lead with 3:36 left in the game.
As the final buzzard sounded, the Rebels surrounded Hanson and congratulated him on his third shutout on the season as a Rebel, all of which have come at the expense of the Titans. Berry made 25 saves on 28 shots while Hanson stopped all 20 shots. Click here for the box score.
The Rebels and Titans each have six games remaining (two against each other at the end of the season). The Rebels now will play four straight games against the Johnstown Tomahawks while the Titans travel to Alaska and play two games against Kenai River and then against the league’s best team Fairbanks Ice Dogs.