The Johnstown Tomahawks used a quick start and a shutdown finish to hold off the Port Huron Fighting Falcons, 3-2, on Thursday night at Cambria County War Memorial Arena.
Johnstown scored the game’s first three goals and then withstood a Falcons comeback sparked by a pair of power-play goals in the second period.
“It’s always nice to get a cushion, whether you’re home or away,” said forward Brandon Reinholz, who had a goal and an assist. “But you’ve got to keep going.”
A crowd of 2,237 attended on Jack Ham bobblehead night.
A Johnstown native, Ham is a Football Hall of Famer who was part of four Super Bowl-winning teams with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The outside linebacker was part of the Steel Curtain defense.
Locally, Ham also made his mark at Bishop McCort High and was an All-American at Penn State University.
“Hockey means so much to this city,” said Ham, who dropped the ceremonial first puck. “Hockey is part of the fabric of the city.”
The Tomahawks built a 2-0 first-period advantage on goals by defenseman Casey Nelson and JB Baker.
Nelson scored on a blast from the left point at 8:46, and Baker tallied at 16:39.
“We had shots and traffic,” Tomahawks coach Jason Spence said. “The first goal, Nelson’s shot had eyes and (Cody) Gylling was standing right in front of the goalie’s eyes and he didn’t see anything. That kind of lit a spark for us because we came out kind of flat.
“We were watching, reacting instead of acting. That’s a common thing. It happens, but we have to make sure we apply pressure. We don’t want to act off of what they do.”
Reinholz used a backhander to make it 3-0 at 5:15 of the second. Baker’s defensive play set up the goal.
“The shift before, JB and (Cody) Boyd were working down low and pucks were just bouncing out front and we couldn’t get one,” Reinholz said. “JB took one off the back in the neutral zone, stuck with the puck and found it and got it to me.
“I just waited out the goalie and got it in.”
The goal eventually was the game-winner because Port Huron had power-play goals by Matthew Uvodich and Nick Horne nearly seven minutes apart in the second.
“We’re working on not getting down,” Reinholz said. “We’re building ourselves back up. We knew they couldn’t play with us 5-on-5 all night. As soon as we stopped taking those penalties they couldn’t handle us.”
Goaltender Chris Truehl made 24 saves for his 12th win. Port Huron’s Alex Blankenburg made 36 stops.
“Definitely, it’s a good judge of character when you can weather a storm like that,” Spence said.
The teams play again at 7 p.m. at the War Memorial.