The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

November 3, 2013

Falcons skate past sluggish Tomahawks

A slow start. Squandered opportunities. And, a first-place team playing like a first-place team.

Those factors combined to put the Johnstown Tomahawks in a deep hole on Saturday night, one the home team never could climb out from in a 4-1 loss to the Port Huron Fighting Falcons.

“We were a little bit flat coming out of the gate,” Johnstown coach Jason Spence said after his team lost for the third time in its past four games. “I think that we have to get out to a quicker start.

“Last Friday (in a 2-0 win over visiting Soo), we banged and got pucks in deep and we had zone possession time. (Saturday) we tried to put the passes too much where the player is instead of getting it out in front of him and letting him skate.

“Credit Port Huron. That’s a good hockey team,” Spence added. “They’re in first place for a reason. The upsetting thing is we’re a lot better hockey team than we showed out there.”

The Tomahawks slipped to 8-8-1 with 17 points in the NAHL North Division.

Port Huron is 11-2-3 with 25 points and first place.

Port Huron’s road success at Cambria County War Memorial Arena only added to Johnstown’s frustration.

Saturday’s game, played in front of 2,575 fans, put the Fighting Falcons’ record at 7-1 against the Hawks at the War Memorial.

Overall, Port Huron is 11-3 against Johnstown since the 2012-13 season.

“We understand Johnstown is going to be gunning for us,” Port Huron coach Michael Gershon said, referring to today’s 1 p.m. rematch at the War Memorial. “For whatever reason we play pretty well here, but we need to make sure we come out hard in the first period or it could be the other way around.”

There were no doubts on Saturday.

Johnstown looked sluggish in the first period, then squandered some quality chances to take the momentum in the second.

Meanwhile, Port Huron displayed why it leads the division.

“We played maybe one of our best games all year,” Gershon said. “We came off a weekend where really we didn’t play well. We came away with three points (last weekend) but internally we knew we didn’t play well and we wanted to get back into our systems and philosophies.

“The guys bought into the system tonight.”

The Falcons’ Jon Hall scored 7:43 into the first period, and Nick Horne and Alex Archibald had goals in the second.

Port Huron’s Zach Badalamenti made it 4-0 in the third before Johnstown’s Brady Bender netted his first of the season with 4:17 left in the game.

“A little too late,” Spence said of the Tomahawks’ 14-5 shots advantage in the final period. “We need to be steaming at the beginning of the game, coming out of the gates. We didn’t have that. We had some guys trying to do for themselves more than for us together.

“That’s no good. You’ve got to be a team and do it together.”

Port Huron outshot Johnstown 30-29.

 Rookie Tomahawks goaltender Brett Young kept his team in the game with several impressive stops, including a glove save on Vito Alvia’s second-period penalty shot.

The Tomahawks had some momentum at 12:12 of the second after Shane Bednard got the better of Austin Romzek in a lengthy and entertaining fight. Romzek also had a cross-checking penalty that put Johnstown on a power play.

But Port Huron was awarded a penalty shot while skating short-handed. Young made the glove save.

The War Memorial crowd was enthusiastic and loud after the fight, and the noise level increased after Young stopped the penalty shot.

But Johnstown’s Garrison Sanipass was penalized for head contact, negating the power play and snuffing out some of the buzz in the building.

“You have to take those certain sparks and you have to do something,” Spence said. “When you’re a little bit flat, you have to find a way. That would have been a really good time. We had a couple real good shifts after that (fight). We had a power play.

“On the power play we took the penalty for the penalty shot. Thirty seconds later we took another penalty. Aggressive is one thing, but…”

Late in the second, the Tomahawks pressured Falcons goalie Alex Blankenburg (28 saves), but a shot by Omar Mullan and two by Bender hit the pipe, and Shane Cuckovich had a good shot that Blankenburg turned away.

“That’s going to happen in games, and the teams that are there at the end are the ones that can handle the pressure,” Gershon said. “You’re always going to get push-back from teams. We knew they didn’t play a great first period and Jason was going to let them know that, and they were going to come out hard in the second.”

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
  • SRU vs UPJ baseball0418 1 UPJ takes one, drops second

    John Fees’ spring baseball season accurately mirrors that of his Pitt-Johnstown team.
    Fees started slow, losing his first four decisions, but has rebounded nicely in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Pirates 0418 Brewers ward off late Pirates rally bid

    Kyle Lohse pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Carlos Gomez homered and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 Friday night.
    Lohse (3-1) improved to 11-2 in his career against the Pirates, allowing one earned run in a win against them for the second time in six days.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Drama lacking sans Tiger

    If professional golf saw its future at Augusta National last weekend, the sight had to be worse than choking on a 5-foot putt.
    The course was there in all its splendor.

    April 18, 2014

  • Penguins 0418 Penguins are wary of spunky Blue Jackets

    Sidney Crosby is used to the attention. It comes with the territory when you’re the best hockey player in the world.
    Still, the Pittsburgh Penguins star knows the spotlight becomes more acute in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates 0417 Pirates power past Brewers

    Andrew McCutchen hit his first homer of the season and drove in three runs, Pedro Alvarez had a three-run shot and pinch-hitter Josh Harrison broke a tie with a long ball in the seventh inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates handed the Milwaukee Brewers their first road loss, 11-2 on Thursday night.
    Harrison’s two-run drive down the left field line off Rob Wooten (0-1) was the second of his career as a pinch hitter.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0417 Jackets preparing for Game 2

    The Columbus Blue Jackets don’t feel they’re doomed after blowing a two-goal lead in a Game 1 loss of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
    “It’s not about missed chances, or feeling sorry about it,” goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky said at Thursday’s optional workout, 13 hours after falling 4-3 in Pittsburgh.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local Sports Briefs

    April 17, 2014

  • 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