Just as he has done so many times during six seasons with the Johnstown Chiefs, Jason Spence provided grit, leadership and fisticuffs on Saturday night.

Anyone who has watched Spence play on Cambria County War Memorial Arena ice knows the 28-year-old from Windsor, Nova Scotia, won’t voluntarily take off a night.

But Spence revealed another dimension of his game during a 5-2 victory over visiting Trenton.

He scored the game’s first goal at 8:50 of the first, capping a solid rush started by Ryan Garlock and Mark Tobin. Spence created a stir in front of Devils goaltender Jason Smith.

“We came in with a real good triangle,” Spence said of his 16th goal in his 177th game as a Chief. “Garlock carried the puck wide. Tobin was going to the net. I was a little bit high. I saw the puck go, crashed the net and picked up the garbage. I made sure it went in.”

Spence was very visible on the penalty kill as Johnstown successfully wiped out three of the Devils’ four power-play attempts.

He also nearly had a rare two-goal game by clanking a shot off the crossbar with the score tied at 2 four minutes into the third.

Of course, Spence also did what fans have come to expect of the 6-foot-1, 205-pounder. He squared off with Trenton’s Pierre-Luc Leblond even before the puck was dropped in the seconds after Johnstown’s Mike Knight and Trenton’s Tom Harrison had fought.

“We had a fight and they put (Leblond) on the ice, and he’s their tough guy,” Spence said. “It’s a situation where I wanted to keep the ball rolling.”

Spence isn’t hesitant to mix it up, even after missing a week due to a concussion that resulted from a blow he took during a fight in Elmira. He has 26 penalty minutes this season and 629 during his Johnstown career.

“I had a mild concussion, and you have to take precautions, so they held me out a week,” Spence said. “If you play shy or try to change your game at all you won’t be effective.”

Chiefs coach Ian Herbers appreciates that approach.

“Spence gives you everything he has every night,” Herbers said. “That’s a bonus with him scoring. It comes from hard work and his love for playing hockey, and I guess a love for his teammates. He doesn’t want to let his teammates down. He wants to lead by example.”

The Devils saw as much on Saturday.



Mike Mastovich is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat.

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