Tag Archives: Gianluca Esteves

Rebels Alumni Update – December 2017

When Andrew Bellant committed to Michigan Tech back on November 30, he became the twenty third member in Rebels history to announce his NCAA commitment while actively playing for the team. With college hockey in full swing we wanted to provide a brief “where are they now” alumni update.

Dean Balsamo
After committing to Bentley University and beginning last season there, “Dino” transferred to Adrian College where he finished out the season having scored eleven points (6 goals and 5 assists) in sixteen games. This season he currently has six points (2 goals and 4 assists) in nine games.

Victor Bergstrom
“Vic” is currently attending Plymouth State University. Last season the defenseman had eight points (2 goals and 6 assists) in seventeen games. This season he currently has thirteen points (5 goals and 8 assists) in twelve games.

Kristofers Bindulis
After playing last season at Lake Superior State University where he had twelve points (1 goal and 11 assists) in twenty-eight games, “Bindy” signed a two-way contract with the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League back in March. This season he has played in six games for the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League and he has eight points (2 goals and 6 assists) in thirteen games for the South Carolina Stingrays of the East Coast Hockey League.

Drew Blackmun
“Blacky” is second in all-time games played for the Rebels with 116. He committed to Northeastern University where he currently has played in two games for the Huskies with no points.

Ryan Cusin
After playing at the University of Massachusetts Boston last season where he 40 points (16 goals and 24 assists) in 25 games, “Cuso” transferred to Adrian College this season where he currently has five points (2 goals and 3 assists) in nine games.

Chris DePrez
“Daddy” committed to Marian University where he had one point in four games last year. This season he has two points (1 goal and 1 assist) in ten games.

Gianluca Esteves
After finishing he junior career with the Rebels last year, “Esty” or “Gino” committed to Michigan State where he has a point (assist) in seventeen games this year for the Spartans.

Dom Garcia
Dom is second in three all-time franchise categories: Points (74), Goals (28) and Assists (46). He committed to Arizona State where he currently has one point (assist) in seventeen games for the Sun Devils.

Andrew Hart
After joining the team back in February from a trade with Topeka, the forward finished his Rebels career with ten points (6 goals and 4 assists) in fourteen games. He committed to SUNY Geneseo where he has played in one game.

Darion Hanson
After backstopping the Rebels to their first East Division championship, “Hanny” committed to Union College. During this past summer he was invited to participate in the Philadelphia Flyers prospect camp where he was the winning goalie in the 3 on 3 tournament. In eight games so far for Union this season, he has an impressive 1.76 goals against average and .926 save percentage.

Gvido Jansons
The highly skilled defenseman with a bomb of shot committed to Arizona State where he has two points (both goals) in eighteen games for the Sun Devils.

Brennan Kapcheck
The Rebels’ 2016-17 Defenseman of the Year committed to American International College where he has had an impressive freshman season. “Kappy” has fifteen points (4 goals and 11 assists) in nineteen games. He was named Atlantic Hockey’s Rookie of the Month for October, and he has helped AIC have its winningest first half since the 1998-99 season.

Colton McMenamin
“Mac” had four points (2 goals and 2 assists) in 23 games for Stevenson University last season. This year he has four points (all goals) in twelve games for the Mustangs.

Michael Merulla
The franchise’s all-time point leader per game (1.146) committed to Boston College where he appeared in three games last season with no points and has yet to play in a game so far this season for the Eagles.

Jerry Miettunen
The Finish defenseman committed to the University of Wisconsin Superior where last season he eight points (3 goals and 5 assists) in twenty-eight games. This season he has played in six games with no points.

Mareks Mittens
The North American Hockey League’s 2016-17 Most Valuable Player and Best Goaltender committed to Lake State where “Mits” has appeared in eleven games and has posted a 3.67 goals against average and a .892 save percentage.

Ryan Solomon
Posting the NAHL’s best +/- for the 2016-17 season with a +39, “Solly” committed to Northeastern but has yet to play in a game.

Frank Spellman
“Frankie” committed to Endicott College where he had eight points (1 goal and 7 assists) in twenty-two games last season. This year he transferred to the University of St. Thomas where he has four points (all assists) in seven games.

Austin Swingle
“Swings” had eleven points (4 goals and 7 assists) in twenty-two games last season for Stevenson University. This year he three points (2 goals and 1 assist) in eleven games for the Mustangs.

Mason Van Tuyl
“Mas” had one point (assist) in twenty-two games for the University of Wisconsin River Falls last season.

Evgeny Yakovlev
“Gino” or “Yak” scored the winning goal in game three of last season’s semi-finals to send the Rebels to the Robertson Cup finals committed to the University of Wisconsin Superior has four points (1 goal and 3 assists) in thirteen games this season.

Rebels’ Forward Gianluca Esteves makes D1 NCAA commitment to Michigan State

The Aston Rebels, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), are pleased to announce that forward Gianluca Esteves has committed to play NCAA Division 1 Ice Hockey for Michigan State University. The Spartans play in the Big Ten conference. His commitment begins in the fall of 2017.

Esteves, 20, was fourth on the team in total points for this past season with 45 (17 goals and 28 assists). The Winnipeg, MB native led the Rebels in total points in the recently concluded Robertson Cup playoffs with nine (5 goals and 4 assists). He also was voted to the All Robertson Cup tournament team. He was named honorable mentioned for November’s NAHL forward of the month.

“I’m really excited to sign with MSU and move on to play hockey at the next level” stated Esteves. “I am extremely thankful to my parents and all of my coaches and teammates who have helped me get to where I am going. I would especially like to thank Coach Coombs and the Rebels organization” concluded Esteves.

“G was a great player for us all year” stated Rebels head coach Joe Coombs. “He got better as the year went along and certainly played his most consistent hockey when it mattered most. State got a good player that will only get better as he grows” concluded Coombs.

Michigan State University is located in East Lansing, MI. The Spartans had a 7-24-4 record this past season.

Rebels lose to Brahmas 3 – 0 in championship game

The Aston Rebels played their 73rd and final game of the season today. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out the way the players wanted it. Despite having playing their seventh game in ten days and coming off an exhausting but thrilling overtime game from the day before, their valiant effort came up short as they fell to the Lone Star Brahmas 3 – 0 in the North American Hockey League’s Robertson Cup National Championship Finals.

The Rebels played a very strong opening period cutting off the Brahmas neutral zone. However, each team did have their respective chances to score but Lone Stars’ goalie Max Prawdzik and Mareks Mitens each made several key saves to keep the score knotted at zero after the first period.

The second period continue as the same path as the first period with both teams playing very solid hockey. However, with time winding down in the middle stanza, Lone Star took advantage of a Rebels turnover in their own.

After a Rebels defenseman attempted to clear the puck out of their own zone it was intercepted at the nearside blue line by Austin Kamer. Kamer would bring the puck to the faceoff dot and passed it to Pete Kessel to his left. Kessel would take a shot on goal but the puck hit the side of the net where it picked up by Drake Glover. Glover would pass it out to Kamer in the slot and he one-timed it passed Mitens to give the Brahmas a 1 – 0 lead with 2:31 left in the middle stanza.

Lone Star would double their lead at the 4:04 mark of the final period. As the Rebels tried to break out of their zone and outlet pass was intercepted by Lone Stars’ Julian Biondo. Biondio brought the puck in close and took a shot that was saved by Mitens but Austin O’Rourke picked up the rebound to make it a 2 – 0.

With time winding down in the game and hoping to cut the Brahmas lead in half Mitens was pulled for an extra attacker. Tory York would score an empty net goal with 59 seconds left in the game to seal the championship for the Brahmas.

Mitens stopped 20 of 22 shots he faced while Prawdzik turned aside all seventeen shots. Click here for the box score.

Rebels defenseman Kolby Vegara and forward Gianluca Esteves were named to the 2017 NAHL All-Tournament team.

Despite the loss, the Rebels had an extremely successful season: best record during the regular season, team high 46 wins. Coach of the Year with Joe Coombs and the league’s Most Valuable Player and best goalie in Mareks Mitens along with eleven NCAA commitments to date.

The team will come back to Philadelphia tomorrow morning and the players will begin to clean out their locker rooms and, sadly, say their goodbyes.

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.

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

Rebels win game five 6 – 2 to advance to NAHL’s semi-finals in Duluth

Evgeny Yakovlev scored two goals to lead the Aston Rebels to a 6 – 2 victory over the visiting New Jersey Titans. The win enabled the Rebels to win their second straight East Division playoff championship three games to two and advance to the NAHL’s semi-finals in Duluth, MN as the league’s number one seed.

The Rebels will play the winner of tonight’s fifth and deciding game between the Aberdeen Wings and Minnesota Wilderness.

This was a very good series with both teams displaying grit, determination, speed and physicality. It was a shame one of them had to lose. Each team pushed the other and helped the other prepare for the semi-finals.

New Jersey’s Hunter Alden was called for cross-checking at the 11:39 mark of the first period putting the Rebels on the power play. With time winding down with the extra attacker, Ryan Solomon brought the puck out of his own zone and passed it up to Drew Blackmun. Blackmun would take a wrist shot that was kicked aside by Titans goalie Ryan Ferland into the far corner. Blackmun would pick up his own rebound and passed it back slightly to Gianluca Esteves. Esteves passed it back to Solomon at the top of the point and he took shot that beat Ferland long side to give the Rebels a 1 – 0 lead with 6:35 remaining in the opening period.

After outshooting the Titans 12 – 4 after one period, the Rebels looked to grow their lead. And they did by scoring two goals 1:17 apart from each other early in the second.

After Dustin Manz won the draw deep inside the Titans zone the puck would go into the near side corner where it was picked up by Adam Peck. Peck would battle for the puck and passed it up slightly along the boards to Andrew Hart. Hart would charge towards the net and take a shot that was saved by Ferland but Peck picked up the rebound and put it past Ferland to make it a 2 – 0 Rebels lead just 2:16 into the second.

Yakovlev then would score his first goal of the night to give the Rebels a 3 – 0 lead. New Jersey’s Anthony Cusanelli hustled into the Rebels zone to prevent an icing call. As he picked up the puck he went to pass it back to a teammate but it was intercepted by Aaron Maguyon. Maguyon would bring the puck up along the far side boards and into the Titans zone. As he reached the faceoff dot he found a trailing Yakovlev in the slot and the big Russian buried Maguyon’s pass by Ferland at the 3:33 mark of the middle stanza.

New Jersey, however, never quit. Gordie Helmuth would put the Titans on the board just 2:17 later. After time had just expired on Gvido Jansons cross-checking penalty there was a faceoff deep inside the Rebels near side zone. Alden would win the draw and the puck came out to Helmuth who immediately took a shot that beat Rebels goalie Jack Leavy short side to make it a 3 – 1 game.

The Rebels would regain the three-goal lead with 5:45 left in the second. Maguyon would bring the puck into the Titans zone and immediately passed it over to Esteves on his right. Esteves would take a shot that was saved by Ferland but Maguyon picked up the rebound and passed the puck back to Jansons at the top of the point. Jansons would slightly skate further into the zone and took a wrist shot that beat Ferland high to make it a 4 – 1 game. Ferland was then replaced by Brandon Perrone.

A minute and twenty-eight seconds later Helmuth cut the Rebels lead in two again. After Dom Garcia dumped the puck into the Titans zone for a line change it was picked up by Helmuth in the high slot. Helmuth saw daylight and skated untouched into the Rebels zone. As he crossed the blueline he took a wrist shot the beat Leavy glove side to make a 4 – 2 game with 4:17 remaining in the period.

Yakovlev would score his second goal of the game a minute and nine seconds later. Maguyon, who had three assists on the evening, won the draw deep inside the Titans far side corner. The puck went back to Yakovlev at the top of the circle and he took a shot that beat Perrone 3:08 left in the second. It was Yakovlev’s fourth goal of the playoffs.

The Rebels continued to play shutdown defense in the third. With time winding down in the game and Perrone pulled for the extra attacker, Blackmun would score his fourth goal of the playoffs – an empty netter –  with thirty-seven seconds left to make it a 6 – 2 game.

Leavy stopped 14 of 16 shots with Ferland/Perrone turned aside 34 of 39 shots. Click here for the box score.

After finding out who they will play later tonight, the Rebels will have a practice on Tuesday and then take a 8:30am flight out to Minneapolis on Wednesday morning. The team will have a brief practice at 8:00pm ET and their first game will be played on Thursday at 5:30pm ET.

Titans defeat Rebels 3 – 2 in overtime to force game 5

Titans’ defenseman Ryan Wheeler scored with 3:27 remaining in overtime to give New Jersey a 3 – 2 victory over the visiting Aston Rebels to force a game five in this best-of-five divisional finals. The fifth and deciding game will be played tonight at 7:00pm at IceWorks.

The Rebels opened the scoring with 9:38 remaining in the first period. A Titans’ defenseman took a shot from the point that was saved by Rebels goaltender Jacky Leavy. The puck came off Leavy’s stick directly to Ryan Solomon who sent a lead pass up to Andrew Bellant at center ice. Bellant skated in on a breakaway against New Jersey’s goalie Ryan Ferland. Bellant took a wrist shot that trickled off Ferland’s blocker and into the net to give the Rebels a 1 – 0 lead. It was Bellant’s third goal on the playoffs.

The Titans would tie the game at 9:15 into the second period. After a save by Ferland the rebound came out to Tyler Antonucci at the top of his own near side faceoff circle. Antonucci head manned the puck to Todd Goehring who brought it through the neutral zone. As Goehring entered the Rebels zone he passed the puck to Jordan Kaplan on his left. Kaplan took a wrist shot at the far side faceoff circle and beat Leavy long side to make it a 1 – 1 game.

The Rebels would go back on top with 5:52 into the third. Gianluca Esteves picked up a deep rebound in his own near side zone off of a save by Leavy. Esteves brought the puck up ice and passed it over to Evgeny Yakovlev on his right. Yakovlev entered the zone and took a shot that went wide but the rebound came out to Aaron Maguyon. Maguyon passed the puck to Esteves on his right and Esteves slid the puck passed Ferland to make it a 2 – 1 game.

Three minutes later New Jersey would tie it. Dylan Healey brought the puck up along the near side boards after picking it up from a scrum behind the net. He passed it back downlow to Max Andreev. Andreev sent a pass back to the point to Ryan Wheeler, who took a slapshot that the redirected by Goehring out front past Leavy to make it a 2 – 2 game with 10:57 left in the third.

With time winding down in the first overtime Wheeler would score his first goal of the playoffs. After Kolby Vegara retrieved the puck in his own zone he passed it up along the far side boards to Ryan Patrick. As Patrick went to dump the puck to make a line change it was picked up by William Riedell at the top of his own faceoff circle. Riedell sent a lead pass up to Wheeler at the Rebels blueline. Wheeler cut across and took a long shot that beat Leavy short side to give the Titans a 3 -2 win and force a fifth and deciding game.

Leavy stopped 23 of 26 shots while Ferland turned aside 41 of 43 shots. Click here for the box score.

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.

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.