Joshua Burke, Dustin Geregach

Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks’ Joshua Burke, left, chases Johnstown Tomahawks’ Dustin Geregach during a North American Hockey League game at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial in Johnstown, PA., Friday, Jan.22, 2021.

By the conclusion of this weekend, the Johnstown Tomahawks and Northeast Generals probably will be on a first-name basis at 1st Summit Arena.

In a season that has included multiple interruptions and extended downtime, the Tomahawks will be busy with three games in as many days against the Generals, beginning on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

The teams also meet at 7 p.m. Saturday and close with a 1 p.m. contest on Sunday at 1st Summit Arena.

“Anytime you have three games in three days against the same opponent, it presents a very unique battle,” Tomahawks coach Mike Letizia said. “The schedule this year has definitely been something we have had to work with on the fly, so we try to stay prepared no matter what.”

As has been the case throughout the season, the Tomahawks announced that a limited number of fans will be permitted to watch as per COVID-19 pandemic guidelines.

The second-place Tomahawks are 13-4-3 with 29 points, two points behind East Division-leading Maine. Fifth-place Northeast is 8-14-3 with 19 points.

“We have had a good week of practice, really focusing on areas we need to shore up and we are hoping it can lead to good results,” said Letizia, whose team swept a pair of home contests against the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks last weekend.

The Tomahawks have benefited from the production of a line consisting of leading-scorer Jay Ahearn (14 goals, 14 assists, 28 points), Brendan Clark (6-20-26) and John Gelatt (14-12-26). Ahearn ranks fifth in the NAHL in scoring, and Clark and Gelatt are tied for seventh in the league.

Goaltender Sam Evola is fourth in the league with a 2.13 goals against average, .920 save percentage and a 9-2-2 record. Peyton Grainer is 3-1 with a 2.93 GAA and .908 save percentage.

Northeast is led by Liam McCanney (12-8-20) and Aidan Curran (2-18-20). Goaltender Hugo Haas is 5-7-3, and Anton Castro is 3-2.

“Northeast is coming off a very strong weekend in New Jersey, taking three of four points and finishing with a big win,” Letizia said. “They have had a fair amount of roster turnover since our last meetings, and I expect this to be a very challenging three games for our team.” 

Mike Mastovich is a sports reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5083. Follow him on Twitter @Masty81.

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