Last week, the Johnstown Tomahawks followed the hockey adage that sometimes you have to give up a lot to gain a lot when making a trade.
So far, forward Omar Mullan has held up his end of the bargain.
Acquired last week in a deal that sent popular forward Cody Gylling to Amarillo, Mullan netted two goals, including the game-winner, as the Tomahawks beat the Springfield Jr. Blues 3-2 on Saturday night.
Johnstown has won three straight games against only one loss since adding Mullan in a move intended to bring championship experience and a blue-collar presence to Johnstown.
“He brings leadership,” Tomahawks coach Jason Spence said. “In the last three years he’s won two national championships, once in this league with Amarillo last year and when he was with Michigan in U18.
“He picks guys up. He holds guys accountable. It helps that he’s been there in those big games.”
Mullan had 24 goals and 68 points last regular season and was a key part of the Amarillo Bulls’ Robertson Cup winning team.
This is the 20-year-old’s third NAHL season.
“It’s definitely an honor to be brought in and they say, ‘We want you to lead the team,” ” Mullan said after scoring his second and third goals as a Tomahawk. “But I think it’s more of an honor to play for a team with so much history and under a great ownership and great coaching staff. That makes our job as players pretty easy.
“We just have to go out there and work hard every night.”
Springfield scored first as Alex Baskakov converted a power play 6:22 into the game.
But Johnstown’s Collin Finkhouse tied the game just over a minute later in front of an announced crowd of 1,800 at Cambria County War Memorial Arena. Mitch Hall and Shane Cuckovich worked the puck behind the net and set up Finkhouse as he entered the offensive zone.
“That was a huge goal,” Spence said. “He came in off the point. He hustled in as that late guy. The puck came out to him and he buried it.”
Mullan scored both goals in the second period, the first one on a tip-in at 3:38.
“Every goal is just about being in the right spot and hard work,” Mullan said. “Neither one of my goals were pretty goals. It was just putting the puck on net and shooting with a purpose.”
The second came on a pinpoint shot from the right side that beat netminder Sandro Aeschlimann at 7:09.
“He just came out of the corner and made the perfect shot,” Spence said. “He read the goalie. The 5-hole was open. He got it up enough but still low enough that it went through.”
Aeschlimann had been unbeaten in three games. He stopped 17 of 20 Tomahawks shots.
Johnstown goaltender Alex Okicki continued his hot streak with a third straight victory. Okicki made 16 saves.
Spence hopes the addition of Mullan will further solidify an already tight-knit locker room.
Mullan certainly has the mind-set of a team leader.
“As far as the mental aspect, it’s all about being selfless, being more for the team than you are for your goals or your assists,” Mullan said. “And it’s blocking pucks and really just buying in and worrying about the two points on the scoresheet for the team rather than worrying about the two points for yourself.”