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 New Jersey Titans

Playoff Preview vs Maryland

April 18, 2024 - North American Hockey League (NAHL)
New Jersey Titans News Release

The New Jersey Titans, coming off a 2-0 sweep of Johnstown, have advanced to play the East Division regular season champion Maryland Black Bears in a Best of 5 series in the East Division Semifinals. Maryland finished the regular season atop of the East Division with a record of 41-14-5, 7 points clear of second placed Maine for their second consecutive division championship. It is the first time New Jersey and Maryland will meet in the Robertson Cup Playoffs.

The season series between the Titans and Black Bears has been marked by weekend sweeps. Maryland took both games in New Jersey when the teams first met in October, and the Titans returned the favor with a pair of wins in Maryland the following month. The Black Bears swept the weekend when the teams met again in January at the Piney Orchard Ice Arena, and New Jersey took the last two games of the series in Middletown at the beginning of March by scores of 4-2 and 8-4. The 8 goals surrendered by Maryland in their last meeting with the Titans was a season high, and the most goals given up by the Black Bears since a 9-2 defeat at the hands of the Titans on January 9th, 2021.

In the regular season, Maryland was led by Sacred Heart commit Jeremi Tremblay with 22 goals, while University of Alaska-Anchorage commit Dimitry Kebreau paced the Black Bears with 33 assists and 52 points. Against New Jersey, Tremblay led the way with 5 goals and 3 assists, appearing in all 8 games between the teams. Sam Stitz, committed to the Air Force Academy, and Luke Janus, committed to RPI, also gave the Titans fits, with both recording 4 goals. Stitz was the only Black Bear to finish the season with over a point per game. In goal, Owen Lepak and Colin Ronan combined to give Maryland the lowest goals against average in the division, combining for a 2.27 mark. The Black Bears ranked 4th in the league with only 145 goals against, and a goal differential of +63.

For New Jersey, UMass-Lowell commit Dominick Rivelli, West Point commit Ryan Novo, and uncommitted Ryan Friedman all recorded 3 points in the two games against Johnstown. Dominik Bartecko, committed to Mercyhurst, set franchise records with 32 goals and 51 assists in the regular season, adding a goal in Game 2. Against Maryland, Bartecko led New Jersey with 5 goals and 3 assists in 8 games. Rivelli and Sacred Heart commit Jack Hillier potted 4 each, and Novo led the Titans with 6 assists. Zak Brice, the future Arizona State Sun Devil, started 5 games against the Black Bears, going 3-2. He remains a game time decision after leaving Game 1 against Johnstown with an upper body injury. Dylan Krick stopped 42 of the 43 shots in Brice's stead in 88 minutes of action.

The action begins tomorrow, Friday April 19th, with a 7:00pm faceoff at the Piney Orchard Ice Arena in Odenton, Maryland. Game 2 is the next day, Saturday the 20th, with a 6:30pm start. Both games will be available to watch on NAtv, and New Jersey fans are encouraged to select the "Away" feed as Zak McGinniss travels to bring you all of the action.

The series then shifts to the Middletown Sports Complex for Game 3 on Friday, April 26th, with a 7:30pm faceoff. Game 4, if necessary, will be Saturday, April 27th, at 7:00pm. Game 5, if necessary, will be back in Maryland on Sunday, April 28th, at 5:10pm. Tickets for Games 3 and 4 are now on sale, and can be purchased by following this link.

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