The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

February 24, 2013

Sixth sellout crowd of season sees Tomahawks drop shootout

Mike Mastovich
mmastovich@tribdem.com

JOHNSTOWN — A couple trends continued for the Johnstown Tomahawks on Saturday night at Cambria County War Memorial Arena.

The good news was that the first-year NAHL team attracted its sixth sellout home crowd of the season, as 3,725 watched the second chapter of a two-game set against the Fresno Falcons.

Unfortunately, the Tomahawks have yet to win while playing in front of a capacity crowd on home ice. Fresno edged Johnstown 2-1 in an overtime shootout.

“The fan support has been amazing,” Tomahawks coach Jason Spence said. “I’ve been here for a lot of years, how many times have there been six sellouts in one season? How long ago was that? It’s been great.”

Spence and his players just wish they could post a win in front of the large and supportive crowds.

“You can’t win many games scoring one goal,” Spence said. “We limited them to one goal, but we need to have more finish.”

It’s not that Johnstown has played poorly in those sold-out games. The Tomahawks are 0-3-3 in home sellouts, with five one-goal losses (including three shootout losses). The other was a two-goal setback. Johnstown has had nine crowds of 3,000-plus and is 3-3-3 in those contests.

“When you’re playing in someone else’s building, you’ve been on the road for 12 days, and Johnstown’s a really good hockey club, it’s nice to even get one point at the end of regulation,” Fresno coach Eric Ballard said. “Two nights in a row we battled and the boys didn’t give up.”

The West Division last-place Monsters also won a 3-2 shootout over the Tomahawks on Friday, boosting their win total to 14.

The Tomahawks dropped their sixth consecutive home game and slipped to 12-10-6 at the War Memorial, with four more overall setbacks than victories.

Johnstown held Fresno without a shot on goal for the opening 14:48 of play. By then the Tomahawks had put 15 shots on Monsters goaltender Macauley Haight.

J.B. Baker gave the hosts a 1-0 lead 6:41 into the first period, making a few moves before scoring his seventh of the year.

Fresno’s Mitchell Snyder tied the game at 15:45 of the first despite Johnstown’s 17-5 shots advantage in the period. Overall, Johnstown outshot Fresno 41-19.

“We missed a lot of nets,” Spence said. “We had some wide-open nets and missed.

“We did get a lot of shots on goal. Some of those timely ones when you get in real tight and have an open net, you have to bear down and put it home.”

Haight had 40 saves and denied all four Johnstown shootout attempts.

“Mac played a great game,” Ballard said. “We’ve been waiting for him to turn things around for himself and for us. This was a great opportunity and he took full advantage of it.”

Fresno got shootout goals by Newton Fuller in the first round for a second straight night and Mitchell Snyder.

The Tomahawks have a league-high 12 overtime losses.

 “I thought we played hard,” Spence said. “Sometimes when you’re not getting a lot of goals, you try to make it too perfect instead of just shooting and driving and going. Maybe we tried to pick the corner too perfect and missed the net on some of those Grade-A opportunities.”

The Tomahawks average 2,464 fans a game, fifth-best in the league. Despite its last-place status, Fresno has a league-high 3,478 average attendance.

Johnstown hits the road for a pair of games in Springfield on March 1-2 before closing the home portion of its schedule against Jamestown on March 8-9.

“We need to get on the road and be road warriors and get going,” Spence said.