The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


April 7, 2013

IT'S A WRAP | Miller’s overtime goal ends Tomahawks’ inaugural season

JOHNSTOWN — The result of Sunday’s NAHL Robertson Cup Playoff game wasn’t the one that the Johnstown Tomahawks wanted. Port Huron’s Ian Miller made sure of that just 3:28 into overtime.

But the intensity displayed by the Tomahawks at Cambria County War Memorial Arena on Sunday was everything that Johnstown coach Jason Spence asked from his squad throughout the season.

Needless to say, that made the Fighting Falcons’ 4-3 overtime win in the deciding Game 3 of the North Division Play-in series that much harder to accept.

“Some things happened, sometimes the bounces don’t go your way,” Spence said. “We played a good hockey game. I’m really disappointed in the loss, but out guys played hard and the puck’s gotta bounce the other way for us. We never capitalized on some opportunities, we had some open nets. Both teams played hard and (Port Huron) came up with the win.” 

Miller’s series-clinching goal came early in the overtime period when he collected a loose puck near the Johnstown net and wrapped the puck past Tomahawks goaltender Chris Truehl, sending Johnstown into the offseason while Port Huron advances to face North Division top-seed Sault Ste. Marie in the division semifinals after taking down the Tomahawks 2-1 in the best-of-3 series.

“I was just trying to get a shot on net, maybe it would have kicked out to someone,” Miller said. “But it made a nice bounce.”

While Port Huron advanced into the next round, the battles waged between the Fighting Falcons and Tomahawks left an impression on the victors.

“We knew that it would be a tough series,” Miller said. “(Johnstown) took it to us last game and they were were taking it to us today before we said ‘Let’s work together. We’re not going home yet.’ We were able to get two goals in the third and then the overtime winner.” 

The game-winner by Miller wasn’t the only late-game magic turned in by the Fighting Falcons. There was still the matter of the two-goal lead held by the Tomahawks at the 8:45 mark of the third when Johnstown’s Mitch Kontny slammed home a rebound from Andrew McDonald’s previous shot to put the hosts ahead, 3-1.

Port Huron inched closer at 12:59 of the third when Rick DeRosa, who will play at Penn State next year, redirected a feed from Miller into the net. With an extra attacker on the ice in the waning moments, Brett D’Andrea equalized the game at 3-all; stunning the 2,011 in attendance at the War Memorial.

“Our guys have been really good with understanding what the situation is,” Port Huron coach Michael Gershon said. “We have some good leadership. It really wasn’t anything we (coaches) needed to say. Nothing’s a bad shot.” 

Johnstown, which never trailed until the final goal, grabbed a 1-0 lead at 4:39 of the first as Brandon Reinholz poked in a loose puck with heavy traffic in front of Port Huron goaltender Max Milosek. Mitch Maloney leveled the score just 2:03 into the second when he capitalized on a mishap in the Johnstown crease as a skater inadvertently bowled into Truehl, leaving an open cage for Port Huron.

Cody Gylling regained the advantage for Johnstown by creating a turnover in the Port Huron end before unfurling a backhand shot which beat Milosek at 14:29 of the second. Kontny’s goal in the third built on the momentum gained by the Tomahawks to close the second with the lead.

“What worked was that we were getting shots on goal,” Spence said. “We were taking advantage and using our speed. When we were getting pucks to the net in traffic, it caused confusion for the goaltender and we were able to take advantage of that with rebounds and second and third shots.”

The two late goals from the Fighting Falcons reaffirmed the faith of the team’s coaching staff after 40 minutes.

“I think we just believed,” Gershon said. “Pretty much my speech coming into the third period was that we’re going to win this game. It’s all about believing in the playoffs and just continuing to play the right way.” 

Both Truehl and Milosek stopped 26 shots during the contest.

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