BY MIKE MASTOVICH
In a season filled with strange bounces, bad breaks and even worse news, this one still was difficult to accept.
The Johnstown Chiefs’ farewell tour continued with another tough 3-2 loss to the visiting Cincinnati Cyclones on Sunday afternoon.
That’s the least complicated explanation of the Chiefs’
19th regulation home loss of the season.
The fact that an apparent go-ahead goal – one that actually might have crossed the line not once but twice – was disallowed had most people in a Cambria County War Memorial Arena crowd of 2,362 shaking their heads at another cruel twist of fate they’ve simply come to accept.
“I had an open net and I shot as hard as I could,” said Chanse Fitzpatrick of his scoring opportunity during a Chiefs’ 5-on-3 power play in the third period of a tie game. “I hit the post and it went in. The ref said he didn’t see it at the time. The linesman gave him an indication that it was in and they were going to talk to the goal judge.
“Then, he told me that the goal judge wouldn’t come down to the glass to talk to him, so therefore he wasn’t going to call it a goal. I don’t know what went from there, but it’s disappointing because it’s a 3-2 game.”
It only got worse. Cincinnati’s Mark Van Guilder took a rebound and zipped a shot into an open net at 11:25 to put the Chiefs in a 3-2 hole.
The arena grew quiet after only a few minutes earlier celebrating what might have been the Chiefs’ third goal.
Fitzpatrick’s hard shot clanged off the post and the puck seemed to land behind the goal line before goalie Jeremy Smith tried to cover the disc and appeared to push it over the line again. Referee Tim Mayer initially pointed his hand to the ice, apparently signaling a goal.
He later waved his arms as if there was no goal.
The goal judge put on the light almost immediately and was seen shaking his head to indicate the goal had been scored. He also appeared to be getting out of his seat to walk to the glass. But his opinion didn’t matter, and the game remained tied at 2.
“I thought it went in,” Chiefs assistant coach Jason Spence said. “I saw it on the line and I thought the goalie had his glove over it and shoved it into the net. Off the post I thought it hit and went in also But what are you going to do?”
Video replays backed Spence’s assessment.
“It’s unbelievable,” Fitzpatrick said of the momentum swing from the ruling. “The 5-on-3, we haven’t had too many the last two months, but as of late we’ve got pucks to the net and we got everything we needed to happen on the 5-on-3. For something like that to happen, it deflates the tires pretty well. We had an opportunity. We had some shots. It’s about breaks, and we haven’t had them lately.”
The Cyclones led 1-0 through one period after Matt Pierce’s shot from near the goal line hit goaltender Kris Mayotte’s pad and bounced back into the net.
The power-play goal was at 7:44 of the first.
The Chiefs tied the score via Connor Shields’ rebound goal 1:21 into the second period. Troy Schwab took the initial shot that caromed to Shields inside the left circle, leaving him an open net.
“The first goal they had hit the end boards and was like a rocket coming off,” Spence said. “The second one hit one of our players in front of our net and dropped him. The puck landed right on the other player’s stick. It’s impossible for Mayotte to know that is going to happen.”
Former Chiefs forward Ryan Del Monte put the Cyclones back in front with his 10th goal at 8:38 of the middle period.
The Chiefs tied the game on Dan Collins’ 5-on-3 power-play goal with 3:39 remaining in the second against Cyclones netminder Smith.
“Dan Collins scored a beautiful howitzer shot,” Spence said.
“I thought we played a good game. That’s a real good team over there.”