For the first time in 118 days, the top two teams in the North American Hockey League’s East Division will meet on the ice. The first-place Johnstown Tomahawks travel to take on the second-place Maine Nordiques in a two-game series set to start at 7 p.m. Friday. The second contest begins at 7 p.m. Saturday at Androscroggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, Maine.
Johnstown (28-7-4 with 60 points) and Maine (28-14-1 with 57 points) have split their first four meetings, with the Tomahawks earning five total points thanks to a 3-2 shootout loss in the home opener on Oct. 16. The squads last met in a series on Dec. 3 and 4. Maine won 6-2 in the first game, with Johnstown returning the favor with a 4-1 triumph in the second contest.
Johnstown holds a three-point advantage for first place while playing in four fewer games. The teams conclude their regular-season series on April 23 and 24 at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial.
Friday’s game will be the first time fans can watch a Nordiques game this season at Androscroggin Bank Colisee. Free admission is slated for Friday’s contest. On Saturday, admission is $5 for the first 1,000 fans.
Four goaltenders in the series are ranked among the NAHL’s top 12 in goals against average. Johnstown’s Josh Graziano is 8-3-2 with a 2.06 GAA in 14 games played, which includes his six games with New Mexico. Graziano is 7-0-1 with with a 1.85 GAA and .923 save percentage with Johns- town. Sam Evola has a 15-4-2 record with 2.25 GAA and .918 save percentage.
Maine has a strong goalie duo in Tyriq Outen (18-7-1, 2.60 GAA, .930 save percentage) and Avery Sturtz (10-7-0, 2.62 GAA, .909 save percentage).
Johnstown’s Jay Ahearn is tied for second in the NAHL with 45 points, which includes 21 goals and 24 assists. Teammate John Gelatt is seventh with 43 points, consisting of 21 goals and 22 assists. Brendan Clark ranks tied for nine with 39 points, including 11 goals and 28 assists.