Four first-period goals proved to be more than enough to propel the Johnstown Tomahawks to a 6-1 victory over the division rival Jamestown Rebels on Friday evening at First Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial.
Bennett Stockdale opened the scoring to put the Tomahawks in front, but Nick Siffringer answered a minute later for the Rebels to bring the teams back even just over 7 minutes into the contest. That turned out to be the closest the Rebels came to competing with the Tomahawks in what turned into a rout for the home side.
Over the course of 5:27 in the second half of the first period, the Tomahawks struck three times to open up a commanding 4-1 lead before the first intermission.
“We had a good start, they tied it, but then we responded,” Tomahawks coach Mike Letizia said. “It’s been an issue for us not being to put the puck in early and cash in on chances, but we did it tonight.”
The Tomahawks’ scoring barrage started at the 11-minute mark where Drew Murphy cashed in for his second goal of the season. Murphy was parked in front of Rebels’ goaltender Jon Howe and in perfect position to knock home a rebound from outside the crease to put the Tomahawks back in front.
Next to join the goal-scoring parade was Sean Bauchens, working below the dots to double the Tomahawks’ advantage, joining Murphy with his second goal of the season.
Just over a minute later, leading goal scorer Carson Gallagher made it a three-goal lead, once again from in tight on Howe, proving the Tomahawks willingness to play in the dirty areas and create offense against a sound defensive squad in the Rebels.
Including the opening goal by Stockdale, all four first-period goals from the Tomahawks were created by players willing to play in the gritty areas around the goal crease and cause havoc for goaltender Howe and the Rebels defenders. This type of play was praised by Letizia following the game.
“You have to get goals like that,” Letizia said. “They’re a very good defensive team so you have to be willing to go to those areas and we made some nice plays and got some gritty ones tonight.”
Even with the big lead in their back pocket, the Tomahawks were not satisfied with simply seeing the game out, instead, they continued to pour it on with another pair of goals in the second period to put the game well out of reach.
Gallagher added to his team leading goal total with his 12th of the season to extend the lead a little over 5 minutes into the second period. This goal came a little easier for Gallagher than his first, keeping his nose clean and sniping a shot on the power play to make it 5-1 Tomahawks.
After Gallagher’s second marker, the Tomahawks sticks went cold for a little while but caught fire once more before the second period horn sounded. Back on the power play, the Tomahawks used some slick passing to get the puck to a wide-open Matt Doyle, who fired home a one-timer from the right dot for his first goal of the season.
Trailing big and being dominated in all facets of the game, frustration began to mount for the visiting Rebels before finally boiling over. Starting in the second period, the Rebels began a parade to the penalty box that resulted in several shorthanded opportunities along with a handful of misconduct penalties that should set the tone for Saturday night’s weekend capper.
“Three-in-three against a rival team is always going to have some emotions,” Letizia said about the game’s physicality.
“They’re going to come back hard and we want to make sure we can match that.”