ODENTON, Md. – The Johnstown Tomahawks rebounded in a big way after their disappointing loss on Friday to the Maryland Black Bears.
The Tomahawks found success offensively, particularly on the power play, while getting another strong performance from goaltender Sam Evola as they claimed a 5-2 victory over Maryland on Saturday at Piney Orchard Ice Arena.
“We were going tonight for sure,” Johnstown coach Mike Letizia said. “Getting those power plays and cashing in really helped. The guys just trusted in each other and were always in the right spots. Credit to the guys, they did an amazing job tonight.”
The win snaps a three-game losing streak for the Tomahawks (14-11-3), who will head into their Christmas break holding sole possession of third place in the East Division with 31 points.
Northeast’s 2-1 win over Jamestown put the Generals in fourth place (30 points) and dropped the Rebels to fifth with 29 points.
Johnstown returns to action against Northeast on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 before traveling to Jamestown for a Sunday matinee on Jan. 2, making the Tomahawks’ next three contests vital in maintaining their momentum during the second half of the season.
“Getting this win was definitely better for the mindset,” Letizia said. “You never want to go into time off dwelling or thinking about what could’ve happened. Now we can take this win to the break, but when we come back, we have a hard schedule.
“So we’ll get back in a couple weeks and be ready to go.”
Johnstown’s big night of offensive production was spread throughout the lineup, with four players – Jacob Badal, Ryan Vellucci, Jake Black and Dusty Geregach – recording two assists each.
Badal opened the game’s scoring by tallying the Tomahawks’ first of three power-play goals in the contest at 9:57 of the first period. Frank Jenkins also found the back of the net with a man advantage to put Johnstown ahead 2-0 after one.
“The offensive production came off of a lot of hard work,” Badal said. “We’ve kind of been sitting back lately. Tonight, we really decided to go after it and get the puck where it needed to be. Our offense really capitalized off of our defense, too, because we really focused on shutting them down and getting that spark.”
The Tomahawks indeed used their spark, as Evola stopped all of Maryland’s 14 first-period shots while recording several stellar saves on the penalty kill. The netminder added 12 saves in the third en route to finishing with 33.
“I had a tough one last night. It obviously wasn’t my game for sure,” said Evola, referring to the Tomahawks’ 6-4 loss on Friday. “I just have to go out and compete and do my best every game. The boys helped me battle back today too, and we got it done.”
Maryland got on the scoreboard at the 15:33 mark of the second period when Laker Aldridge tipped a shot past Evola to cut the lead to 2-1, but Zach Stoner answered for Johnstown just 28 seconds later to keep the Tomahawks’ lead at two goals heading to the third.
Sean Ramsay and Egan Schmitt each tallied goals for Johnstown in the final frame, with Ramsay’s coming on the power play. Adan Bruich scored for Maryland to set the eventual final.
“This put us in a good spot mentally,” Evola said. “Getting this win and bringing it back to Johnstown is huge for us.”