New Jersey Injures Lundy, Beats Jamestown In Game 3
The Jamestown Rebels are one loss away from being eliminated from the North American Hockey League postseason.
They are running out of healthy players in the process.
The New Jersey Titans scored four unanswered goals to beat Jamestown 4-1 and take a 2-1 lead in the East Division finals Wednesday at Northwest Arena.
“I don’t think we’re running out of gas,” Rebels head coach Joe Coombs said postgame. “Maybe running out of players.”
Game 4 of the best-of-five series will be Friday night at 7 back at Northwest Arena.
It remains to be seen which Rebels will be available.
Already without Carter Casper, Reid Lune and Joe Calvarino due to long-term injuries, Jamestown showed up to the rink Wednesday evening to news that Max Hamstad would be out of the lineup due to illness.
Then, staked to a 1-0 lead on Tyler Stern’s rebound goal after a Trever Burns shot, the wheels started to fall off for the Rebels.
First, the Titans’ Rocco Testa-Basi dumped a puck into the Jamestown zone that bounced off the end wall behind goaltender Nolan Suggs. The puck slid back in front of the Rebels’ goal and when Suggs didn’t play it, the responsibility was left to defenseman Owen West, playing his first game since a long-term injury kept him out of the lineup for nearly two months. West missed the puck and New Jersey’s Nick Ring took possession before calmly deking Suggs for the Titans’ first goal.
“I was concerned with him being in shape. He hasn’t been on the ice in seven weeks. It takes three days in the middle of a season where if you don’t skate you feel it,” Coombs said of West. “We tried to start him slow. I think it was his third shift and he missed the puck.”
About six minutes later, while awaiting a delayed penalty to be called on New Jersey’s Chris Carroll for a hooking infraction, the Rebels broke out of their defensive zone and up the ice. Jamestown captain John Lundy cut through the middle before being laid out by a Titans defender at the center-ice faceoff dot. Lundy remained motionless on the ice for several moments before skating off the ice with help. He would not return.
“You already lost Hamstad an hour before the game and then you lose another player that, quite honestly, is better than anyone they have,” Coombs said.
Just over 30 seconds into the second period, New Jersey took the lead for good when Tommy Bannister’s wrist shot from the left faceoff dot beat Suggs for Bannister’s first goal of the postseason.
“I’m not happy with the way we played,” Coombs said. “I thought there were times we played pretty well, but I thought there were other times they played like they were defeated, and they’re not. That’s disappointing.”
The Rebels nearly tied the game in the final minute of the second period, but couldn’t get the puck past East Division Goaltender of the Year Andrew Takacs, who made a sprawling save to keep his team’s one-goal lead.
Just over five minutes into the third period, New Jersey’s lead grew to a pair when Billy Feczko beat Suggs with a rising slapshot over the goaltender’s glove hand for his first goal of the postseason.
“We didn’t threaten around the net. When we did, we were one and done,” Coombs said. “We had no secondary chances. We had nobody wanting to pay the price. The price to win is extremely high, higher than anyone in that room knows.”
Jamestown gained a glimmer of hope in the final minutes when Reece Brednich was called for a cross checking infraction and the Rebels pulled Suggs to give themselves a two-man advantage, but New Jersey’s Ryan Coughlin fired the puck nearly two-thirds the length of the ice into an empty net for the Titans’ fourth goal.
“We’re grasping at straws, there is no other way to put it,” Coombs said. “But I like our straws.”
Now Jamestown will face elimination Friday night. In the semifinals against Johnstown, the Rebels trailed 2-1 after Game 3 before winning Game 4 at home 4-1. Jamestown then clinched the series with a 4-3 overtime victory in Johnstown.
“We have a big task in front of us,” Coombs said. “I believe in this group. If they want to get it done, they can.”