The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Tomahawks

April 3, 2014

Tomahawks set to open postseason on road

JOHNSTOWN — The Johnstown Tomahawks open the Robertson Cup playoffs tonight at Port Huron hoping to reclaim the form that enabled the second-year team to move near the top of the NAHL North Division a mere six weeks ago.

Standing in the way of fourth-seeded Johnstown is No. 1 Port Huron, a team that planted itself firmly atop the division and never relented. Faceoff in Game 1 of the best-of-5 series is at 7 p.m. at McMorran Place Sports and Entertainment Center.

“We’re looking to play the game that Johnstown has to play,” said Tomahawks coach Jason Spence, whose team won twice in its final 12 regular-season games. “We’ve got to be first on pucks. We’ve got to play the physical game. We’ve got to use our speed and not give them a chance.”

“It’s got to be a no hesitation thing. We’ve played 60 games this season. We know what we have to do. We’ve just got to do it and we’ve got to want it more than the other team. I think the boys are ready.”

The Tomahawks were in a tie for second place with the Michigan Warriors with 56 points on Feb. 22.

Since then, Johnstown had a seven-game losing streak and slipped to fourth place, at one point facing possible elimination as both fifth-place Springfield and last-place Soo closed the gap. But two critical home wins over Soo helped the Tomahawks solidify their spot.

Johnstown dropped its final three games, but clinched a playoff spot when Springfield lost to Soo last Friday.

Spence said Tomahawks’ veteran 21-win goaltender Alex Okicki has practiced with the team after missing the final three games with an ankle injury. The coach said Okicki’s status will be a game-day decision.

“Alex is practicing,” Spence said. “I’m just not sure which goalie is going to start yet.”

Rookie Brett Young still is looking for his first win with the Tomahawks. He is 0-5-1 with a 4.62 goals against average and .867 save percentage.

“Young has progressed unbelievably. He’s really doing a good job,” Spence said. “The guys have confidence in him. He takes away the bottom of the net very well. He’s got a lot of length and he sews up a lot of the net. He’s 6-foot-4. He’s a big kid and he works really hard.”

Port Huron has a diverse offensive attack with Logan Lambdin (19 goals) and Zach Badalamenti (13 goals) each scoring 38 points, and Vito Alvia scoring 33 points (13 goals). Alex Archibald has a plus-22 rating with 28 points.

“Port Huron is very opportunistic. You can’t give them opportunities,” Spence said. “You have to take them away. You have to force them. In their rink you have to be sure you get to the opportunities before they do.”

The Tomahawks counter with defenseman Mitch Hall (6-37-43, plus-15) and Matt Meier (21-22-43, plus-16) each scoring 43 points. Forward Brandon Reinholz has 39 points (18 goals) and 98 penalty minutes.  Jordan Watt has 22 goals and 34 points.

The Hawks will try to crack Port Huron’s goaltender tandem of Max Milosek (18-10-7, 2.38, .922) and Alex Blankenburg (17-5-3, 2.12, .931).

“Port Huron’s goaltenders are both veterans,” Spence said. “They challenge. The come out. They’re really good at making the first save.

“They’re competitors. We’ve got to make sure we get traffic and we’ve got to beat them. We can’t just count on beating them with the first shot. We’ve got to have second and third shots as well.”

Mike Mastovich is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/masty81.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Tomahawks
  • Mike Letizia Tomahawks hand reins to former assistant

    Introductions? Orientations? Neither was necessary when the Johnstown Tomahawks named their new head coach on Tuesday morning.
    The new guy in charge handled the job for the past month and has been part of the organization since the North American Hockey League team moved to Johnstown in 2012.

    June 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • NAHL coming to Connellsville

    The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced that the Port Huron Fighting Falcons are reactivating and relocating their membership to Connellsville.
    The team will be renamed the Keystone Ice Miners and will start play next season.

    May 10, 2014

  • spence Tomahawks decide not to renew coach’s contract

    Rick Boyd didn’t look forward to his conversation with Jason Spence on Monday.
    The Johnstown Tomahawks general manager and the NAHL organization had made a difficult and potentially unpopular decision to not renew Spence’s contract as the Tomahawks coach.

    April 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Spence, Jason Tomahawks won't renew Spence's contract

    The Johnstown Tomahawks will not renew head coach Jason Spence’s contract for the 2014-15 NAHL season, the team announced on Tuesday.

    April 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • ‘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

  • horizontal hawks Fighting Falcons win playoff series against Tomahawks

    The third period of Game 3 of the NAHL North Division semifinal served as a quick primer of the Johnstown Tomahawks’ playoff fortunes against top-seeded Port Huron.
    Trailing by two goals going into the third, the Tomahawks ramped up the intensity, producing a goal early and a multitude of chances at an equalizer until the game’s final moments when goaltender Max Milosek stopped Jordan Watt’s breakaway try as the Cambria County War Memorial Arena’s horn sounded.

    April 12, 2014 2 Photos

  • ’Hawks need a win to survive

    At the moment, it’s not about advancing through the postseason for the Johnstown Tomahawks. It’s simply a case of surviving to play another day.

    April 11, 2014

  • Falcons clip Tomahawks in overtime

    The Johnstown Tomahawks squandered a pair of two-goal leads and fell 4-3 in overtime to Port Huron in Game 2 of the North Division semifinals on Friday night.
    Johnstown trails the best-of-5 series 2-0 and will try to avoid elimination when the series moves to Cambria County War Memorial Arena on Friday.

    April 5, 2014

  • Tomahawks drop Game 1 on road

    The Johnstown Tomahawks came back from an early two-goal deficit, but Jon Hall scored a third period goal to give the Port Huron Fighting Falcons the 3-2 win in Game 1 of the best-of-5 North Division semi-finals on Thursday night at McMorran Arena.
    The Fighting Falcons struck first, as Bryce VanHorn scored 1:39 into the first period. Logan Lambdin earned an assist on the goal.

    April 4, 2014

  • tomahawks okicki Tomahawks set to open postseason on road

    The Johnstown Tomahawks open the Robertson Cup playoffs tonight at Port Huron hoping to reclaim the form that enabled the second-year team to move near the top of the NAHL North Division a mere six weeks ago.
    Standing in the way of fourth-seeded Johnstown is No. 1 Port Huron, a team that planted itself firmly atop the division and never relented.

    April 3, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
Order Photos


Photo Slideshow

House Ads