The Johnstown Tomahawks skated onto the ice at Cambria County War Memorial Arena as one of the hottest teams in the NAHL.
The Wenatchee Wild put a chill into the arena packed with 3,267 fans, the second-largest home crowd of the season.
The Wild won 5-1, outshooting Johnstown 42-12 and winning most of the one-on-one and team battles.
“We never got anything going,” Tomahawks coach Jason Spence said. “We never played as a team. We played as individuals and Wenatchee played a real hard game. They played with speed, and we didn’t counter.
“I’m not going to say we didn’t play hard. But we didn’t play as a team. Hockey is six guys on the ice. We were playing with one player. Very disappointing.”
The setback snapped Johnstown’s four-game winning streak, all at home. During that stretch, the Tomahawks scored 21 goals – 17 in the previous three games.
The Hawks were coming off a 6-4 victory over visiting Wenatchee on Friday night in what many fans and staff labeled as one of the most exciting contests the Tier II Junior A team has played.
On Saturday, Wenatchee’s Parker Tuomie scored 15:03 into the first period and 35 seconds into the second to put the Tomahawks in a hole. After the Wild’s Tanner Barnes made it 3-0 at 4:43 of the second, Spence used his time out and slammed the glass behind the bench while addressing his team in a heated and animated manner.
“I probably wouldn’t repeat a lot of what I said,” Spence said. “I was pretty upset. Our last four games we had our ups and downs, but we always found a way to win. We played hard and used our strengths.
“It almost felt like we just thought we were going to win and we weren’t paying the price to do that.”
Tuomie, one of the NAHL’s top prospects, said the Wild wanted redemption after Friday’s loss at Johnstown.
“We had a little taste in our mouths from Friday night,” Tuomie said. “Our coach told us we needed a good start, get the puck deep and run them down. That’s what we did. We had a great start and that was a big part of our victory.”
Trey Bradley set up both of Tuomie’s goals and had three assists.
“I had a lot of shots Friday and couldn’t get it in and the goalie played great,” Tuomie said. “My linemates helped me out and I got two nice passes.”
Wenatchee’s Troy Loggins scored to make it 4-0 at 1:21 of the third.
Johnstown’s Dakoda Menslage broke goaltender Chase Perry’s shutout bid with a goal 4:44 into the third. Mike Coyne made it 5-1 at 9:40.
The victory capped a recent string of good news for Tuomie, who is rated a NHL Class C prospect at the junior level.
“I just got invited for the World Juniors,” Tuomie said. “I’m really pumped about that for Team Germany. It’s just game for game right now and I want to concentrate on the Wenatchee Wild and see what happens.”
Spence praised Tuomie but stressed that the Wild wasn’t a one-man act.
“Parker played well,” Spence said. “He pushed the D back on some plays. He had a couple good catch and release shots. The Bradley kid played well. He’s good with the puck and has good speed and opened us up.”
The Tomahawks (12-9-1) continue their homestand next Friday and Saturday against North Division leader Port Huron.
Spence said his team will have plenty to work on after Saturday’s performance.
“It wasn’t our night,” Spence said. “And, it wasn’t our night all the way around. Sometimes you have bad games and we sure did tonight.”
Notes: Tomahawks defenseman Alex Jaeckle committed to continue his career playing NCAA Division I hockey at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. “He’ll finish this season and they want him to play next season for us also,” Spence said. “They want him for two seasons from now.” … Jaeckle, who announced his decision on Friday, built on Johnstown’s ties to the Air Force. One of last season’s goaltenders, Chris Truehl, committed to Air Force last season. At a showcase earlier this year, forward Matt Meier decided to play with the Falcons next season. ... “That’s three guys committed there in the last two years,” Spence said. … Former Tomahawks forward Cody Boyd recently verbally committed to play Division I hockey at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point.