Jay Ahearn

The Johnstown Tomahawks' Jay Ahearn controls the puck up the ice against the Northeast Generals on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial.

The Johnstown Tomahawks return to 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial for the first time in nearly a month this weekend.

The Maryland Black Bears will visit for games on Friday (7:30 p.m.) and Saturday (7 p.m.).

Coach Mike Letizia's Tomahawks team will try to build on a 13-game winning streak at 1st Summit Arena as a seven-game homestand opens.

"We're looking forward to being back at home for the majority of the next two months, but it is on us to take advantage of the schedule on the ice," Letizia said. "Nothing is given here and everything needs to be earned.

"This will be our fifth and sixth time seeing Maryland over our past 10 games, and every single game is close. We know we are in for a tight-checking weekend and we have to be ready and at the top of our game."

The first-place 'Hawks haven't played at the War Memorial since Feb. 13 – a 2-1 victory over Maryland.

They've played six consecutive road games since then, sweeping a pair over the Black Bears at Piney Orchard, dropping two to the New Jersey Titans and winning both games at Danbury last weekend.

"It was good to bounce back with two wins on the road in Danbury during the extended time away from home," Letizia said. "I felt we played well enough to win in New Jersey but a few things got away from us so we needed to rebound the right way."

Overall, the Tomahawks are 22-6-4 with 48 points to top the NAHL East Division – three points ahead of Maine. New Jersey (40) is third, followed by Maryland (29) in fourth.

Johnstown has a 7-2-1 mark in its past 10 dates.

Maryland is on a 10-game winless streak (0-10-0) since its most recent victory over Danbury (3-2) on Feb. 2. The Tomahawks are 6-2-1 against the Black Bears this season.

"Every game down the stretch is going to be extremely intense as the battle for playoff positioning sure has grown," Letizia said. "Nobody is out of a playoff spot and it is a very challenging division."

Tomahawks forward Jay Ahearn tops all rookie scorers and is second in the NAHL with 40 points, including 18 goals and 22 assists. His linemates, Brendan Clark and John Gelatt, rank fifth and sixth, respectively, with 37 and 35 points.

Clark is second in the league with 27 assists, and Gelatt is tied for first with 19 goals.

Maryland is led by Hunter McCoy's 23 points, including 11 goals. Luke Mountain has 19 points, with 13 goals.

Mike Mastovich is a sports reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5083. Follow him on Twitter @Masty81.

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