Better late than never.
It might be a common rally cry from proverbial doghouses on Saturday with day-after scrambles to pick up the perfect Valentine’s Day gift in full motion.
It’s also how the Johnstown Tomahawks picked up two key points on Friday against the Jamestown Rebels.
A pair of third-period goals – one each from Christian Gorscak and Bennett Stockdale – allowed the hosts to overtake the Jamestown Rebels by a 3-2 decision at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial.
Until the third period, Jamestown held a 2-1 lead on the scoreboard with a 20-10 advantage in shots on goal. The Tomahawks’ effort in the third period was one that felt more like the team that coach Mike Letizia has guided to second place in the NAHL’s East Division.
“We just worked (in the third),” Letizia said. “We didn’t have our feet moving. We didn’t win too many battles in the first two periods. They controlled most of the play. If you look at it, we had 10 shots in the first two periods … Obviously we finally decided to get going in the third in working a little harder and getting pucks to the net.”
Gorscak, with help from Max Kouznetsov and Tristan Poissant, pulled Johnstown even with the Rebels when he tossed a shot from just outside the right face-off circle and past goaltender Noah West at 4:53 of the third.
Stockdale plugged in the game-winning goal at 14:57 when a Poissant feed to the crease located Stockdale’s stick. A couple of whacks by Stockdale gave Johnstown a 3-2 lead, one that was tested late when the Tomahawks killed off a power-play when Kouznetsov was called for tripping at 17:24.
Over the game’s final seconds, a few tries at an abandoned Rebels net skipped wide of the target.
Johnstown opened the scoring with a lucky bounce when Pavel Kharin’s pass attempt to the strong-side crease was blocked by a Rebels defender into the Jamestown net. Spencer DenBeste and Jack Therrien were credited with the assists on the lid-lifter at 3:47 of the first.
The Rebels drew even at 6:35 of the second when Tomahawks goaltender David Tomeo sent a pass right to the stick of attacking forward Jordan Cormier, who sent a wrist shot high on a gaping net. The goal was unassisted.
At 11:05 the Rebels struck again with another unassisted tally when Carter Korpi poked a shot home.
The win gave Johnstown (29-13-4) its third straight win and cut the lead of East Division frontrunner New Jersey to seven points.
Another pair of points this weekend won’t come easy against the Rebels (18-26-3).
“We gotta play 60 minutes,” Letizia said. “You just can’t come in and play 40, you gotta play 60 if you want to win. They’re going to be coming with a hard game, so we gotta come back and play all 60.”
Heads up and down: The Tomahawks will honor Letizia on Saturday with a bobblehead featuring the coach’s likeness given out to the first 1,000 fans in attendance when the teams skate again at 7 p.m.
“It’s pretty special for the team to recognize me like that,” Letizia said. “I’m obviously grateful for the organization and everything they’ve done for me in my eight years here. It’s pretty cool, really happy to be able to share it with my family.”