The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


February 16, 2013

One Wild weekend at War Memorial

JOHNSTOWN — You wouldn’t think of teams separated by almost 2,500 miles of highway as intense rivals. In the case of the Wenatchee Wild and Johnstown Tomahawks, this weekend’s series served as a reunion of sorts.

Wenatchee secured the weekend sweep with a 3-2 win over the Tomahawks, a former West Division rival of the Wild before the franchise relocated from Palmer, Alaska to Johnstown last summer.

The Wild eliminated the then-Alaska Avalanche from the 2012 NAHL postseason. It was not lost on some of the holdovers from the Alaska squad.

“We have returnees from last year in Alaska and we have a good rivalry with (Wenatchee),” Tomahawks forward Jordan Watt said. “We lost to them in the playoffs last season, unfortunately.”

The Tomahawks racked up 53 penalty minutes with a pair of ejections and three fighting majors while the Wild lost one player to a game misconduct and served two fighting majors.

The physical play, which led to a smattering of minor penalties, encouraged Johnstown coach Jason Spence, despite the loss.

“A lot of the physical, hard-working penalties, those are the ones that you want to kill,” Spence said. “Because the players are working so hard and finishing their checks and are playing with emotion. When those penalties happen, the players on the bench want to kill that penalty even harder because it was a hard-working penalty.” 

It also energized the sellout crowd of 3,725 fans (and 84 dogs in the building for Pucks and Paws Night).

“I loved the announcement of the sellout with the people and the dogs, that was awesome,” Wenatchee coach Bliss Littler noted. “What a great environment to play in. (Johnstown) could end up being a destination. Kids are going to want to play here.” 

The Wild (35-7-4) held off early pushes from Johnstown through the first period as the Tomahawks (22-18-10) peppered goaltender Robert Nichols. Momentum shifted to the Wild as Cody Boyd racked up an instigator penalty and game misconduct along with a fighting major late in the first. The five-minute power-play allowed the Wild to break through with the game’s first goal just 48 seconds into the second period on Max McHugh’s corner shot past Colin Brennan.

“The big key was the power play we got at the end of the first,” Littler said. “We didn’t score on it (then), but (Johnstown) had some really good chances, put us on our heels a bit with their forecheck and that penalty made them back off a bit and kill it.” 

Watt, who was serving the penalty for Boyd, equalized with a jailbreak goal as Mitch Hall lobbed a puck to Watt at the Wenatchee blue-line. Watt then drove to the net before beating Nichols for his 16th.

“I just came out of the box, Hallsy picked his head up,” Watt said. “He just threw it up to me and I went down on the breakaway.” 

The Wild reclaimed the lead at 16:34 of the second when Joe Sullivan beat Brennan. Chris Kerr was credited with the assist.

Trevor Stewart, who assisted on the McHugh goal, converted a defensive-zone turnover into a 3-1 Wenatchee lead 4:35 into the third.

With the ink still drying on the scoresheet from a holding penalty called on Wenatchee’s Chris Jones late in the third, Watt’s faceoff win in the Wild zone found Mitch Kontny, who ripped a shot past Nichols at 15:11.

Johnstown, which only registered three shots during the third, saw its chances to tie flutter past the net or get poked away during the remaining time.

“It was an exciting game to watch. It’s a game that we wished that we had,” Spence said. “Wished that we would have buried a couple of our chances. Wished that we didn’t miss the net or that a couple of shots didn’t get blocked. I really think that we deserved better, but that’s not the way things work some nights.”

Nichols stopped 18 shots while Brennan turned away 25 of the 28 shots he faced.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • racin 0416 Jennerstown Speedway gearing for May open

    Jennerstown Speedway released a very ambitious schedule on its website and continues to prepare for its 2014 reopening.
    The track is set to hold a practice day for drivers as well as an open house and media day on April 26.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘Hawks already building toward next season

    Jason Spence used up his cell phone’s battery on a trip from Johnstown to his parents’ home in Nova Scotia, Canada.
    Once the Johnstown Tomahawks coach got to his destination, Spence had to get creative to secure cell service across the border.

    April 16, 2014

  • Pirates 0416 Dominant Cueto drops Pirates in matinee

    That playoff loss in Pittsburgh last year? Johnny Cueto never thought about it much. So getting a chance to shut out the Pirates in a rematch wasn’t any more special.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0416 Penguins rally to wear out Jackets

    Brandon Sutter scored on a wrist shot from the left circle 8:18 into the third period, helping the Pittsburgh Penguins rally for a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Wednesday night.
    Beau Bennett and Matt Niskanen scored power-play goals 45 seconds apart in the second period, erasing Pittsburgh’s two-goal deficit.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shelley and McElligot Series serves as reunion for former Chiefs personnel

    Not so long ago, Bob McElligott, like most Western Pennsylvania hockey fans, would savor a long Pittsburgh Penguins playoff run.
    The Somerset native followed the Pens’ Stanley Cup-winning teams in 1991 and 1992.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Malkin nearing return

    The Columbus Blue Jackets are the closest NHL team to the Pittsburgh Penguins, at least geographically. The two franchises are separated by 185 miles of highway.

    April 15, 2014

  • Reds swing way past Pirates

    Mike Leake doubled and hit a two-run homer Tuesday night, ending Gerrit Cole's winning streak and leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 7-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates that completed two days full of homers and delays.
    First, the NL Central rivals completed a game that was suspended in the sixth inning because of rain the previous night.

    April 15, 2014

  • Pitt ends its spring practices

    No tailgating.
    No trip to a local high school.

    April 15, 2014

  • Pirates Game 1 0415 Pirates edge out Reds in suspended game

    After all those home runs and an overnight delay, it was settled by a single.
    Andrew McCutchen doubled and came around on Russell Martin’s single in the seventh inning on Tuesday, giving the Pittsburgh Pirates an 8-7 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in the completion of a game that spanned two days and 10 home runs.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • track_B1 WestPAC relays go to Windber boys, Berlin girls

    Rain showers and dropping temperatures put a damper on Monday’s WestPAC Relays at Berlin Brothersvalley High School.
    For the Berlin girls and the boys from Windber, however, discomfort was not much of a factor.
    The Mountaineers won their third straight relay title while the Ramblers reclaimed the title from defending champ Shade.

    April 14, 2014 2 Photos