John Gelatt, Anton Castro

Johnstown Tomahawks’ John Gelatt, left, reacts after scoring the first goal of the game on Northeast Generals’ goalie Anton Castro during a North American Hockey League game at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial, in Johnstown, PA., Friday, Jan.29, 2021.

The Johnstown Tomahawks built on a statistical trend in a 6-2 victory over the Northeast Generals on Friday night at 1st Summit Arena.

The ’Hawks have scored 30 goals in five games against the Generals this season and had a shutout streak of 176 minutes, 5 seconds against Northeast snapped in the second period.

“We’re pretty confident in our abilities,” said Tomahawks forward Will Margel, who had two goals on Friday, including one on his own rebound after a breakaway. “We know what we can do. We have to just go in and play our game and take it to them.”

Johnstown coach Mike Letizia appreciates the gaudy numbers but see room for improvement in a series that continues on Saturday (7 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.).

“You’re never going to complain about a big win, but at the same time there are a lot of things we’ve got to make sure we don’t do (Saturday) or Sunday,” Letizia said.

The Tomahawks (14-4-3) have 31 points and remain two behind the first-place Maine Nordiques in the NAHL East Division. Maine beat the New Jersey Titans 6-3 on Friday.

Northeast (8-15-3) is in fifth place.

“We played them a couple weeks ago, two big wins, so we knew it was going to be tough going into the weekend,” Margel said. “It was good to get the first one.”

John Gelatt didn’t need very long to put the Tomahawks in front. The Holy Cross recruit scored 18 seconds into the game, with an assist by Brendan Clark.

Margel converted on a power play to make it 2-0 at 4:40 of the first. Captain Alex Gritz and David Paluch set up the goal.

“When you get out to an early lead it definitely gives you a lot of energy,” Letizia said. “It gets you out on the right foot. 

“We’ve got to make sure that even though we have those leads we’ve got to continue to realize what gets you there and what has you finding success.

“I think sometimes we cheat the game a little bit at times. I didn’t love a lot of areas of our game for stretches.”

Clark converted on a power play only 49 seconds into the second period to push the margin to three goals.

Northeast’s Liam McCanney finally ended a string of 176:05 the Tomahawks had held the Generals without a goal.

But 24 seconds later, Margel netted his second of the game to reestablish a three-goal advantage.

“On the breakaway, the goalie had a good save on the first one, but it was good to get through down there,” Margel said.

Jared Gerger capped a rush to the net with a short-handed tally at 14:19 to set a 5-1 score that stood through two periods.

McCanney scored his 14th of the season at 2:50 of the third, and Johnstown’s Jay Ahearn netted his 15th with 2:02 remaining. Gelatt and Clark had assists.

Goaltender Peyton Grainer (4-1) had 29 saves.

“We’re a team effort,” Letizia said. 

The Tomahawks outscored the Generals by a combined 14-0 on New Year’s Eve (8-0) and New Year’s Day (6-0) at 1st Summit Arena.

Johnstown won 6-2 on Oct. 23 at New England Sports Village. The Generals’ John Musella scored his team’s final goal of that game at 12:48.

Northeast didn’t score against Johnstown until McCanney found the net 8:53 into the second period on Friday night, ending a streak of 176:05 the Tomahawks went without allowing a Northeast goal (21-0).

“We just stick to our game,” Margel said. “The next two ones, if we play our game, we’ll be fine.” 

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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