Opening Weekend presented by Concentric Care & Wellness got off to a great start as the Norwich Sea Captains topped the New Jersey Titans 2-1 in North American 3 Hockey League action at the RoseGarden Ice Arena. Andrew Yocum was very strong in net, making 21 saves to earn the win, Jack Kinahan dished out assists on both Sea Captains goals to pace the offense.
The first period saw both teams throw eleven shots on the opposing net. The Titans were the beneficiaries of three power play opportunities in the first 10:30 of the game, but the Norwich penalty kill was able to thwart all three. This set the stage for Nicolas Piluso to stake Norwich to a 1-0 lead when he netted his first junior hockey goal 12:41 into play. Kinahan won a puck battle below the goal line and found Piluso at the top of the Titans crease for the tap in goal.
Both teams traded goals in the second period. Norwich took a 2-0 lead on a power play goal from Tim Hayden at the 11: 43 mark when Jacob Begich won a faceoff cleanly to Kinahan who made a perfect pass to Hayden and the defenseman hammered the puck home. At 16:33 the Titans responded with a power play goal to cut their deficit to one goal. George Hinds scored the goal assisted by Payton Forbes and Kurt Johnson.
The third period yielded no scoring for either team, but there was plenty of action with both teams creating strong scoring chances. Yocum continued his outstanding play in the Norwich net and New Jersey goaltender Liam Kelly was also very strong in the Titans’ cage. Kelly made 29 save on the afternoon. Both goaltenders benefitted from their respective teams blocking a lot of the opposing team’s shot attempts. The most dramatic of these was a fantastic block from Sea Captains defender Shane Mazur with 17 seconds left to play and the Titans applying great pressure in the Norwich zone.
“I thought the team played a great game in front of me and it was nice to start the season on the right track. We definitely played through some nervous jitter in the first period and set a really strong tone during the rest of the game. Tim Hayden’s goal was a big one because it gave us that two-goal cushion. Then our defense stepped up late in the game to help seal the win,” Yocum commented.
While the Sea Captains started their year with a win New Jersey falls to 0-3-1-0 on the young season, The teams will square off again Saturday evening, September 24 at 8:50 PM at the RoseGarden. Tickets are available HERE and all fans in attendance will receive a 2022-23 Norwich home game schedule magnet.