The Johnstown Tomahawks and Northeast Generals might be trending in opposite directions, but veteran coach Mike Letizia knows better than to put stock in such numbers when a team is about to play three games in as many days.
“I think it’s important to not look at anything like that in terms of records because you have to be at the top of your game every night,” Johnstown’s Letizia said on Thursday night.
The first-place Tomahawks will host three games against the last-place Generals, beginning Friday at 7:30 p.m. at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial.
The ’Hawks are 24-6-4 with 52 points atop the East Division. Johnstown has gone 8-1-1 in its past 10 games and is on a 15-game home winning streak.
The Generals have won half as many games in regulation (12-24-3) and have 27 points. Northeast is 0-3-0 in its past three games, 3-7-0 in its last 10 outings and 7-20-0 on the road.
“Everyone is fighting for their playoff lives, whether it’s a spot in the playoff picture, playoff positioning or home ice,” Letizia said. “We have to make sure we are doing the things that make us successful.”
The Tomahawks haven’t lost at 1st Summit Arena since a 3-2 overtime shootout setback to the Maine Nordiques in the Oct. 16 home opener.
Northeast and the Tomahawks will also play on Saturday (7 p.m.) and Sunday
The Tomahawks are led by the line of Jay Ahearn (18 goals, 24 assists, 42 points), Brendan Clark (10-28-38) and John Gelatt (19-17-36).
Ahearn is second in the league scoring race, with Clark sixth and Gelatt eighth. Gelatt is second in the NAHL with 19 goals, and Ahearn third with 18. Clark’s 24 assists rank second in the league.
Goaltender Sam Evola is 14-3-2 with a 2.07 goals against average that ranks third in the NAHL.
“Any 3-in-3 series is an extreme challenge,” Letizia said. “When you work yourself into a position within the division that we have, we are going to get everyone’s best game. We have to expect three days of very tough hockey and must be ready.”