JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – The Johnstown Tomahawks bounced back from a tough double-overtime loss to the Jamestown Rebels in Friday’s NAHL Robertson Cup divisional playoff opener and evened the best-of-5 series at one game apiece with a 3-1 victory Saturday night at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial.
Braedon Ford and Jake Black each scored third-period goals for the Tomahawks to break a 1-all tie, complementing a strong defensive effort that limited Jamestown to just 14 shots on goal for the contest.
“Our effort was pretty good in Game 1, but we just didn’t get the bounces,” Johns- town coach Mike Letizia said. “Tonight, we were pretty dialed in. We had a good start and kept grinding. It was a complete team effort from top to bottom, all four lines, all seven ‘D,’ and Matt (O’Donnell) in net.”
The line of Ford, Black and Jacob Badal was the spark for the Tomahawks’ offense.
Ford scored twice and picked up an assist, with Black assisting on both of those goals and Badal tallying a pair of assists.
“We were able to get it done on the offensive side,” Ford said. “It was a great team win. Our line works as a unit. One guy opens up space for another, and we were able to play well together and attack with speed.”
The Tomahawks opened the scoring at 7:03 of the first when Ford took a feed from Black and beat Jamestown goaltender Nolan Suggs to the left of the crease.
Tyler DesRochers also picked up an assist on the play.
Jamestown tied it at the 18:33 mark after the Rebels won a battle for the puck in the corner and Jak Vaarwerk fired one in from the right circle, with Ethan Janda and Reid Lune notching assists.
Despite Johnstown controlling the action in the second period and outshooting the Rebels 12-5, the game remained deadlocked until 1:40 into the third.
Ford found an opening streaking up the ice and ripped a shot past Suggs on assists from Badal and Black to put the Tomahawks back on top.
“In the locker room before the third period, we had the mindset that we needed to win this game,” Ford said. “We went out there hungry and did it.”
Just over two minutes later, Black put home a rebound off a Ford shot to give the Tomahawks a much-needed insurance goal.
“This is playoff hockey,” Letizia said.
“Both games have been incredibly tight, there’s not a lot of inches out there. That’s the way they play, that’s the way we have to play. In the end, we have to find a way to put more pucks in the net.”
Johnstown’s defense again put the clamps on the Rebels in the third, holding Jamestown to just two shots on goal in the frame. The Tomahawks also killed off all three Rebels power-play opportunities.
The series resumes with a pair of games in Jamestown on Thursday and Saturday.