The Johnstown Tomahawks have developed a reputation as a comeback team.
Third-period deficits? No problem.
Now, the Tomahawks must figure out how to consistently deliver the figurative knockout punch in games such as Johnstown’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Springfield Junior Blues on Saturday.
“I think we’re very good in desperate times, I guess,” said Tomahawks forward Jordan Watt, whose goal 10:25 into the third period pulled his team within one and had the Cambria County War Memorial Arena crowd of 2,023 cheering and chanting.
“But we need to start finishing teams instead of just coming back and not finishing them,” Watt added.
Springfield’s Ryan Atkinson completed his hat trick 3:16 into overtime to secure the Blues victory.
“It’s a long road trip and we wanted to keep things simple,” said Atkinson, who also scored 12 seconds into the game and had two first-period tallies. “We just got a puck to the net. I went to the net and put one in. It was as simple as that.”
The Tomahawks (7-5-6) are in fifth place with 20 points; one point out of fourth place and four points ahead of sixth-place Springfield (7-8-2). The teams play again at 1 p.m. today at the War Memorial.
“We come back and get to battle even harder. We’re going to be ready,” Watt said.
Atkinson’s goal 12 seconds into the game stunned the Hawks and their fans.
“They had a turnover, our guy went to the net hard,” Atkinson said. “I threw the puck on net. I was in the right place at the right time and was able to put the rebound away.”
Johnstown defenseman Casey Nelson converted a power play with a shot near the top of the left circle at 3:40, but Atkinson scored from the slot to make it 2-1 through one.
“That’s certainly not the way you want to start things, but we came right back after that first goal and got a big power-play goal,” Tomahawks coach Jason Spence said.
Springfield’s Mitch Rogge tallied a second-period power-play goal.
Watt ignited the Tomahwaks by planting himself at the top of the crease and knocking in a loose puck midway through the third. Captain Mitch Kontny and Nelson assisted.
“We were just working hard in the third period and I knew we had to get a goal to get something going,” Watt said. “I was standing in front of the net and it popped right on my stick. I put it in.”
Jeff Bergh scored only 1:04 later to tie the score and raise the noise level in the arena.
The Tomahawks played their league-high eighth overtime game. Johnstown is 2-6 in OT/shootout situations.
“The third period, we have to play like that the whole game,” Spence said.
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