ATTLEBORO, Massachusetts – The Northeast Generals forced a decisive Game 5 in the East Division semifinal round by defeating the Johnstown Tomahawks 4-2 on Thursday night at the New England Sports Village.
The series is tied at 2-all with the final game set for 7 p.m. on Saturday at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial.
“We’ve got to clean this one out of our minds pretty quickly,” Johnstown coach Mike Letizia said. “We’re not happy, but we’ve got to regroup for Saturday night.
“This is what we battled for home ice for – a Game 5 situation.”
The Tomahawks had the NAHL’s best regular-season record and top seed in the Robertson Cup playoffs.
Northeast finished as the No. 4 seed in the East Division.
The teams have played a spirited, sometimes heated, series while splitting the first two games in Johnstown as well as the two games in Attleboro.
“They did a good job against us,” Letizia said. “I also think it was some of our own misfortunes in the game that didn’t work out for us.”
Northeast’s Svet Kuchynski scored on the power play at 14:45 of the opening period and the 1-0 score stood at intermission.
“We gave up their power play goal early, came out and tied it up and then had a 5-on-3 for an extended period of time that we didn’t do anything with and they ended up scoring a short-handed goal shortly after it,” Letizia said.
Johnstown’s Andy Nedeljkovic scored at 7:50 of the second, tying the game with assists by Colin Price and Mitchell Hale.
The Tomahawks couldn’t convert on a two-man advantage and allowed a short-handed goal by Liam McCanney at 16:52 that set a 2-1 Generals lead through two periods.
“It was a little bit more what we didn’t do that came back to bite us tonight,” Letizia said.
Northeast’s Brady Gaudette made it 3-1 just 1:08 into the third period.
The Tomahawks pulled within a goal after Oliver Benwell converted on a power play at 11:31. Carson Briere had an assist.
The Generals sealed the game with Joseph Nagle’s goal with only 4 seconds remaining.
Northeast goaltender David Fessenden stopped 34 of 36 shots. Johnstown’s Carter McPhail made 34 saves on 38 shots.
The Tomahawks were 1 of 8 on the power play, and Northeast was 1 of 5 with a short-handed tally.