Rebels Take Commanding 2-0 Lead Over Titans

Jamestown Rebels goaltender Noah West prepares to make a save during Saturday’s NAHL East Division semifinal game against the New Jersey Titans at Northwest Arena. P-J photo by Chad Ecklof

A red-hot second period lifted Jamestown to a 4-1 win over New Jersey on Saturday night inside Northwest Arena.

The Rebels used a pair of goals from captain Alex Frye and another tally from Antonio Venuto to seal up a victory in Game 2 of the North American Hockey League East Division semifinals, and will now travel to New Jersey for a pair of contests next weekend in the best-of-five series.

“They have to feel pretty good, but our work is a long way from over,” said Rebels head coach Joe Coombs after the win. “They scored first on a good play and then once we scored I thought we sort of took the game over. We were really good in the second, but way too undisciplined for our game plan and our liking in the third period.”

The Rebels gave the Titans seven opportunities to score with the man advantage, with New Jersey only converting on one in the opening period of play.

Gavin Gulash picked up the only goal of the game for the Titans after Jamestown’s Nick Stuckless was booked for roughing at 6:37 of the first. Quarterbacking his team on the power play, Ryan Naumovski fired a shot on Rebels goaltender Noah West that was kicked back into a crowd of bodies before being finished off by Gulash.

Jamestown Rebels defenseman James Crossman carries the puck toward New Jersey Titans goaltender Brandon Perrone during Saturday’s NAHL East Division semifinal game at Northwest Arena. P-J photo by Chad Ecklof

While Jamestown was able to string together some good efforts on the penalty kill after giving up the first goal of the night, Coombs understands that taking undisciplined penalties is not sustainable.

“We’re taking too many penalties. You’re not going to give a team that many opportunities. They are a skilled hockey team, they are going to make plays. They may have other deficiencies but they certainly have the ability to make plays and we can’t keep going to the box. I’m shocked another one didn’t go in our net.”

The Rebels responded to Gulash’s tally with an equalizer at 16:41 of the first period with their lone power-play goal of the night.

Sitting on the left point, Colin Schmidt ripped a one-timer on net off a pass from Alex Roy that was deflected on its way past New Jersey goaltender Brandon Perrone.

Niki Jasko earned his second assist of the postseason on that goal before Frye set to work giving the Rebels the lead in the second.

On his first of the night, Frye was planted on the backdoor when James Crossman let a shot go from the point that was tipped right on goal by Mason Kruse.

That redirection was kicked off to the side by Perrone for an easy finish on the right side by the Jamestown captain.

Four minutes later, Frye showed why he finished the regular season as Jamestown’s leading scorer.

After Seth Bergeron was able to stymie an offensive rush by the Titans, Caleb Price fed a long lead pass to spring Frye down the left-side wing.

Faking a slapshot near the circle, Frye finished off that play with a forehand-backhand deke past a sprawling Perrone.

“I was waiting for him to respond. I thought once he scored he got going a little bit,” Coombs said of his captain. “The thing about playoff hockey at every level is the guys that got you there, they don’t have to do more, but they’ve gotta do what they have done. He is a guy for us who has had a big year, well deserved, but he has to keep playing the way that he has all year.”

Antonio Venuto would add the insurance goal for Jamestown with 2:30 remaining in the second period of play.

Connor Linton grabbed his third assist of the postseason and Noah Finstrom his second, as they passed Venuto open on the left-side blue line for a long shot that could not be reached by Perrone.

The New Jersey netminder would finish with 23 saves on the evening while Noah West stopped 20 of 21 pucks for Jamestown.

“I thought he played really really well,” Coombs said of West. “It’s good to see. We know we can count on him. Our experience in this league before, it takes two guys to get where you want to go and Noah proved tonight that he can step up and play big for us.”