Nearly midway through Friday night’s NAHL game, the Johnstown Tomahawks appeared to be on track to a win – perhaps even a one-sided victory.
But the Port Huron Fighting Falcons scored three goals in a six-minute span and netted four straight overall to put the home team back on its collective heels in front of 2,491 fans at Cambria County War Memorial Arena.
Despite a dramatic flurry and a late power-play goal, the Tomahawks never truly recovered in a 5-4 setback.
“I can’t give you that answer,” Johnstown coach Jason Spence said when asked about his team’s two-goal start to the second period that was followed by Port Huron’s three-goal finish in the middle frame. “That’s just the things that happened.”
The Tomahawks (21-15-9) lost an opportunity to extend their winning streak to three games. Port Huron (20-22-3) earned a split after falling, 3-2, on Thursday at the War Memorial.
“We were shooting ourselves in the foot,” said Tomahawks captain Mitch Kontny, who had a goal and two assists. “We stopped doing the little things. We started watching them do stuff, standing back.”
Johnstown took a 1-0 advantage after Brandon Reinholz deflected in a shot by Casey Nelson on the power play 12:17 into the game. Port Huron answered via Brett D’Andrea’s goal with 2:15 left in the first.
The Tomahawks went 1-for-5 on the power play in the first period. Instead of potentially building a lead, Johnstown was tied after 20 minutes.
“The first period, all those power plays we had, not being able to convert, obviously that puts you in a bad frame of mind,” Spence said. “Then, we didn’t execute on a couple plays. They get the ‘W.’ ”
For a while, it seemed as if the Tomahawks might ground the Falcons. Connor Wright lifted a shot over goalie Max Milosek 2:06 into the second, and Cody Gylling put in a rebound from close range at 6:20 to make it 3-1.
“We have to play that way the whole game,” Spence said. “We didn’t play 60 minutes. We didn’t play even close to that.”
Port Huron’s Rick DeRosa converted a power play at 8:33. Easton Powers and DeRosa added goals just under five minutes apart to put the Falcons in front 4-3 through two periods.
Johnstown players frequently landed in the penalty box during the final two periods.
“We took some frustration penalties and some aggressive penalties and that can’t happen,” Spence said. “We have to use our aggression in a good way. Tonight, we shot ourselves in the foot that way.”
Port Huron’s Bryan Yim scored 1:49 into the final period.
Johnstown made a late push. Kontny scored at 18:58. The Tomahawks already were skating on a brief two-man advantage and then pulled goaltender Colin Brennan.
“It was a 6-on-3. We just had to try to get the puck to the net and traffic in front,” Kontny said. “It came right on my stick and I put it in. But we shot ourselves in the foot again taking the penalty (39 seconds after the goal) when we still had another power play.”
Brennan (10 shots, eight saves) relieved starter Chris Truehl (20 shots, 17 saves). Milosek made 29 saves, as Johnstown outshot Port Huron 33-30.
The Tomahawks finished 2 of 8 on the power play. The Falcons were 1 of 7.
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