Johnstown Tomahawks coach Jason Spence knows numbers can be deceiving.
For instance, the Tomahawks’ Matt Meier had two goals and three points on Saturday night. Goaltender Brett Young made 41 saves.
Those statistics are impressive for 60 minutes of work. Both players had solid efforts, especially during a road game. On paper, the numbers looked good enough for a victory.
Unfortunately for the Tomahawks, the Michigan Warriors put up 50 shots against Johnstown’s team defense and Young. The Tomahawks’ four goals – typically enough to win – represented less than half of Michigan’s nine goals.
“Last week we fell short, especially on Saturday,” said Spence, whose Tomahawks dropped both of their games at second-place Michigan and are four points behind the Warriors in the NAHL North Division. “We missed some assignments. We got caught in some odd-man rushes. We capitalized on some chances, but on the defensive side of the puck we spent most of the time in our defensive zone and never got the pressure on Michigan. We need to be cleaner so we can get that possession time.
“We need to shoot the puck more. We have a lot of guys on the team with great shots and we’ve got to use them.”
Michigan beat the Tomahawks 3-1 on Feb. 28 and 9-4 the next night.
The Tomahawks will have two opportunities to rebound this weekend. The fourth-place Janesville Jets visit Cambria County War Memorial arena at 7:30 tonight and at 7 on Saturday.
“The guys were really good at practice this week,” Spence said. “The players got together on their own and had a couple meals. One thing I was proud of over the weekend, even though we fell short, the players stuck together. When things aren’t going your way it’s easy to blame someone else. They stayed the course and kept with it. That’s what real good teams are made of. We’ve got to continue to be positive.”
The Tomahawks are 26-21-4 with 56 points. Johnstown has a 15-8-2 record at the War Memorial. Janesville is five points back at 24-23-3 with 51 points and a 9-13-2 road record.
Spence believes the Hawks will benefit from the return of forward Josh Bowes, who last skated on Feb. 15.
“He works hard,” Spence said. “He’s got a fantastic shot and he’s really very smart. He knows where players are going to be and he’s made some incredible passes and he’s had some great shots this season.”
Bowes has five goals, 16 points and a plus-8 rating in 36 games this season. The 5-foot-11 winger had a goal, two points and a plus-2 in Johnstown’s 5-0 win over Michigan on Feb. 14. He had rated a plus-2 against Port Huron one game earlier.
“He was playing some really good hockey,” Spence said.
The Johnstown coach said Bowes most likely will skate on a line with Shane Bednard and Meier.
Bednard leads the Tomahawks with 46 points, including 18 goals. Meier is second with 39 points, including 19 goals. Mitch Hall has five goals and 35 points.
In net, Johnstown goaltender Alex Okicki is trying for his 20th win of the season. Okicki is 19-12-1-1. Young is 0-2-1-0.
“Janesville has a couple really good lines,” Spence said. “At the beginning of the season they weren’t doing so well but now they’ve turned it around.”
The Jets are led by Jordan Himley’s 20 goals and 41 points. Robin Hoglund had 19 goals and 36 points.
Goaltender Logan Halladay is 14-8-0-1, and Brock Kautz is 10-14-1-1.
Mike Mastovich is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/masty81.