PORT HURON, Mich. —
A trio of third-period goals proved too much for the Johnstown Tomahawks to match as the Port Huron Fighting Falcons took Game 1 of the NAHL’s Robertson Cup North Division Play-in series by a 3-0 tally Thursday at McMorran Arena.
The Fighting Falcons, the North Division’s fourth seed, used goals from Ryan Nick, Mitch Maloney and Rick DeRosa to grab a 1-0 lead in the best-of-3 series.
The teams meet again at 7 p.m. tonight in Port Huron.
Max Milosek stopped 22 Johnstown shots to preserve home-ice advantage for Port Huron, which edged Johnstown by two points in the regular season to earn the fourth spot in the North.
Milosek registered two of the Fighting Falcons’ three shutouts on the season.
Johnstown had only been shut out three times during the regular season, with the last such occurrence happening on Dec. 15 at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena against Jamestown.
The Tomahawks’ Chris Truehl halted 23 of the 25 shots he faced.
The first period saw both teams with a few chances, but Truehl and Milosek combined to keep the game scoreless.
Port Huron had an early power-play opportunity that was killed off by Johnstown.
The second period saw the continuation of the defensive battle. Port Huron had an early 2-on-1 opportunity before Truehl swept the puck off to the corner.
The Tomahawks got their first power-play of the game late in the second, but the Fighting Falcons managed to stop the Tomahawks on the advantage.
Nick, with help from DeRosa, put the Fighting Falcons on the board at the 8:02 mark of the third with a shorthanded tally.
Maloney’s goal followed at 10:00 with Dan Dupell and Kyle Plageman assisting on the even-strength marker.
DeRosa sealed the win at 19:31 with an unassisted empty-net goal.
If Johnstown wins Game 2, the deciding Game 3 will take place at the War Memorial at 3 p.m. on Sunday.
In Thursday’s other play-in game:
Kalamazoo 7, Springfield 1: In Kalamazoo, Mich., Mac McDonnell notched two goals and an assist to help the Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings blast the Springfield Jr. Blues in Game 1 of their best-of-3 series.
The teams meet again Saturday with third-seeded Kalamazoo hosting.
The Jr. K-Wings built a 7-0 lead after two periods before Jack Sloan broke the shutout 10:37 into the third.
Marcus Due-Boje stopped 17 of the 18 shots taken by the Jr. Blues.