Less than three weeks ago, the Johnstown Tomahawks were winless through four games.
Coach Jason Spence felt his team was a few breaks and perhaps a piece or two away from a turnaround.
The second-year coach was right.
The slow start was all but forgotten after the Tomahawks beat the Springfield Jr. Blues
3-2 in an overtime shootout on Sunday for their fourth consecutive victory.
“Now we know how to win and we’re kind of forgetting how to lose,” Spence said of the 6-4-1 Tomahawks. “At the beginning of the season, losing three in a row was tough. But that was a long time ago now.
“We know what we can do and what we bring. You can change your momentum the next shift. We keep reminding each other of that.”
Jordan Watt and Mitch Hall each scored in the shootout, and goaltender Alex Okicki stopped four of five shootout attempts to secure the win.
Omar Mullan had a highlight-tape goal to give the Tomahawks a second-period lead, and Tyler Basham netted his first of the year in the third to eventually force overtime.
The Tomahawks have won six of the past seven and are
6-1-1 in their past eight games, earning 13 of a possible 16 points.
Plenty of heroes emerged on Sunday in front of 1,546 fans at Cambria County War Memorial Arena.
Okicki kept the home team in it early, as he made two big saves in the first period.
Springfield’s Patrick Curry had a breakaway midway through the period, but Okicki made the stop.
“That guy just found an open spot in the middle,” said Okicki, who has been in net during the four-game win streak. “We had guys backchecking hard on him but I knew I had to make that save.”
Later, Okicki made a twisting, acrobatic stop after a shot caromed off him and over his head, landing precariously in the crease.
“It hit me in my chest and went over my head,” Okicki said. “I turned around and found it and tried to get it out of the way. I was on my knees and then spun around on my side.”
Neither team scored in the first period.
Mullan made it 1-0 with his fourth goal with the Tomahawks since he was acquired in a trade last week.
He played the puck in the neutral zone and outskated three defenders to move within a few feet of the cage on the left wing side.
His backhander roofed into the net 6:19 into the middle period.
“It was quick transition in the offensive zone,” Mullan said. “You beat the guy wide to the net and put it where the goalie is not. It was backhand, short side. We work on that a lot in practice and it comes natural in the game.”
Springfield’s Curry tied the game on the power play at 14:26 of the second.
The Jr. Blues’ Davis Dekorte made it 2-1 at 1:26 of the third. But Basham tied the game for Johnstown at 6:32 after Trevor Recktenwald and Mullan work-ed deep in the zone.
“Recktenwald went behind the net and I was just yelling for it out front,” Basham said. “He made a beautiful pass to me. I got a stick on it and just put it right upstairs, top glove side.”
Watt started the shootout with a goal, and Hall scored in the third round.
Springfield’s Alex Baskakov beat Okicki in the third round.
“It’s awesome when you know your goalie is going to stop the puck nine times out of 10,” said Mullan, who has four goals in five games with Johns-town.
The Tomahawks travel to Michigan for a pair of games against the Warriors on Friday and Saturday.