The Johnstown Tomahawks allowed two goals 1 minute, 18 seconds apart in the first period and fell behind by three goals early in the second on Saturday night at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial.
Even though the first-place ’Hawks controlled the tempo throughout the final two periods, the deficit was too much to overcome as the fourth-place Maryland Black Bears won 3-2 and swept a pair of weekend contests.
The Tomahawks lost two straight home games at 1st Summit Arena for the first time since April 6-7, 2018.
“I don’t think we had a great first period, for sure,” Johns- town coach Mike Letizia said.
“We were late to pucks. We kind of found bad habits.
“The first goal, they beat us to the rebound. The second goal, they beat us back. The second period they got one pretty quick. A turnover behind the net. They beat us to the puck and scored.”
The Black Bears took a three-goal advantage less than 2 minutes into the second period.
Garret Szydlowski (at 7:28) and Philip Thornqvist (8:46) scored 1:18 apart in the first period to make it 2-0.
Tanner Rowe netted his fourth of the season at 1:35 of the second period.
“Finally, we woke up and carried the play for the remainder of the game, but that hole was dug,” Letizia said. “Sometimes as hard as you try, it’s not in the cards for you. The goalie (Michael Morelli) made some huge saves, especially in the third, a one-timer, a big save.”
The Tomahawks outshot the Black Bears 14-3 in the middle frame and were rewarded on Daniel Tkac’s eighth goal of the season at 16:38. Reed Stark and Ethan Webb assisted as the ’Hawks closed within 3-1.
T.J. Koufis scored 3:58 into the third to pull the Tomahawks within a goal. Stark and Tkac had assists.
“That line had both of our goals,” Letizia said. “We juggled some things up in the second. Those three have had some success together and success against Maryland.
“Credit to them. They just got pucks to the net.”
The Tomahawks pressured the Black Bears throughout the final period, outshooting the visitors 16-1 in the third and 30-4 over the final 40 minutes. Morelli had 39 saves for the Black Bears.
“It’s definitely a learning situation for us,” Letizia said. “In our home building, a team came in and did a good job.”
The Tomahawks are 19-2-2 at home this season and 30-8-5 with 65 points. Maryland is 18-18-7 with 43 points. The Black Bears won a 3-2 overtime shootout against Johns- town on Friday.
“It’s obviously a place where we want to make sure we take care of business,” Letizia said.
of 1st Summit Arena. “Unfortunately, the last couple weeks we’ve dropped a few – all one-goal games. They’re tight, but you go down the stretch, a lot of home games, we have to make sure we’re doing what we’re supposed to do.”
The Tomahawks host the New Jersey Titans for a pair on Friday and Saturday next weekend.
Mike Mastovich is a sports reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @Masty81.