Twelve games left in the regular season. Six of them will be played in the next nine days. While the team relied on goalie Darion Hanson to keep them in the first period, the Rebels started this stretch of games on the right foot as Frankie Spellman’s three point game (two goals and an assist) lead the Rebels to a 4 – 1 win over the first place New Jersey Titans.
It was the tale of two halves in the first period. New Jersey dominated the first half peppering Hanson with nine of the period’s first eleven shots. The Rebels then regrouped. The team’s top line put the Rebels on the board first. Ryan Cusin passed it down low to Dom Garcia. Garcia found Michael Merulla who beat Titans goalie Spencer Wright with 8:24 left in the opening period. It was Merulla’s 23rd goal of the season.
With 2:38 left in the first, New Jersey’s Brad Becker was called for interference. After a couple of shots on net and a line change, Spellman started his night off by entering the offensive zone with a cut back and passed the puck to Jerry Miettuten. Miettuten took a shot from the point that was redirected by Dean Balsamo into the Titans’ net putting the Rebels up 2 – 0 heading into the first period intermission. It was Balsamo’s 21st goal of the season.
The Rebels didn’t let up in the second. After taking four of the period’s first six shots, defenseman Kristofers Bindulis broke out of the zone and found Spellman. Spellman took a nice shot to beat Wright giving the Rebels a 3 – 0 lead.
With 2:48 remaining in the middle stanza, Gvido Jansons was called for interference. Then Miettuten was sent to the box for a check from behind (along with a 10 minute misconduct) putting the Titans on a 5 on 3 power play. As soon as Jansons stepped out of the penalty box, New Jersey’s Adam Hascic and Darren Brady set up Roberts Smits who beat Hanson with :45 seconds left in the period and cut the Titans deficit by two.
Physical play took over in the third. After the Rebels Mason Van Tuyl and Titans Keegan Miller were called for coincidental penalties at the 10: 29 into the period, New Jersey’s Becker received a two minute unsportsmanlike penalty fifteen seconds later. With the penalty winding down, Miettuten and Bindulis set up Spellman for his second goal of the night and thirteenth on the season giving the Rebels their fourth goal of the night.
Wright made 23 saves on 27 shots while Hanson had 31 saves on 32 shots. Click here for the box score.
The Rebels now will play the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights in a home-and-home series and then the Rebels will return to Middletown’s Ice World on Wednesday to play the Titans at 1:00pm.