The theme of the weekend was Pink at the Rink.
But many of the players who left the Cambria County War Memorial Arena ice during a wild third period Saturday night might have been black and blue.
The Soo Eagles broke open a scoreless game with two goals in both the second and third periods to blank the Johnstown Tomahawks 4-0 in front of 2,184 fans.
It’s a safe bet people here won’t be talking much about Michael Covach’s hat trick or Eagles goaltender Tyler Marble’s 30-save shutout.
Instead, the 39 penalties – 20 by Johnstown and 19 by Soo – and 182 total penalty minutes certainly created a buzz.
“Our guys didn’t lie down,” Tomahawks coach Jason Spence said. “They worked. But you know that idea of playing tough and playing stupid, it’s a fine line. We kind of pushed that line today.”
The Tomahawks had 111 penalty minutes. Johnstown lost three players to game misconduct calls and one to a match penalty. Add a couple of 10-minute misconducts handed out late in the third period, and the home team’s bench was mighty short during crunch time.
“We’ve just got to be disciplined,” said Tomahawks captain Mitch Kontny, who twice came close to putting his team back in the game but hit the post each time – the second clang coming on a third-period penalty shot. “Even if the refs aren’t going perfectly good, we’ve just got to stay out of the box. They’re calling it both ways.”
The crowd appreciated the Tomahawks standing up for one another during the contest. The multiple fights and skirmishes drew the usual enthusiastic response.
But the tough play couldn’t overcome great individual efforts by Covach, who scored Soo’s first three goals, with two of those on the power play, or Marble, who often frustrated the home team on solid scoring chances.
“We were undisciplined,” Spence said. “I thought the officiating was terrible. But we didn’t score any goals. Our team was definitely frustrated, but we have to overcome that. This is a good lesson for our team.
“Things don’t come to you. You have to take them. We had some chances on the power play. We didn’t click.”
Johnstown was 0 for 10 on the power play; Soo, 2 for 8.
“The thing is, when you don’t score any goals you’re not going to win any hockey games,” Spence said.
Covach scored goals. His first came with the man advantage 1:26 into the second period.
His second, at the 5:06 mark, was impressive.
“I got the puck and it was a one-on-one. I got it at the red line,” said Covach, who has nine goals. “I faked like I was going to shoot on the net at the top of the circles. Then, the defense kind of stopped his skates. I went around him, faked a shot on the goalie, got around him and put it in the back of the net.”
The game halted some momentum the fifth-place Tomahawks built in the NAHL North Division. Soo is 8-4-3 with 19 points, and Johnstown is 6-5-4 with 16.
“Johnstown played a great game and they’re a great team,” Marble said. “The North is really tight and every game is going to be a battle. This is huge for us. Taking three of four points on the road is always good.”
Soo now has points in nine straight games (7-0-2). Marble, who has seven wins, was key in handing Johnstown its first regulation loss on home ice. The Tomahawks brought a 4-0-1 home mark into the contest.
“The bounces weren’t going our way tonight,” Kontny said. “We have a big week of practice.”