Johnstown Tomahawks vs. Northeast Generals – Jan. 1, 2022

Johnstown Tomahawks defenseman Frank Jenkins celebrates his game-winning goal in a shootout to defeat the Northeast Generals on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, at First Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial

The Johnstown Tomahawks began 2022 just as they ended 2021, finding themselves in an early deficit and having to fight their way back into the game.

Only this time, the hole was deeper.

But Johnstown again didn’t disappoint the nearly 1,600 fans in the seats at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial.

After going down 3-0 in the second period, the Tomahawks climbed back to tie the game and force overtime, and they eventually took the victory over Northeast in a shootout, 4-3, on Saturday night.

“It’s definitely not the formula we want to have, getting down in games,” said Tomahawks coach Mike Letizia, whose team overcame a two-goal deficit to earn a win on Friday. “But, at the same time, the resiliency and to say we can come back with that never-quit attitude is huge. A lot of different guys stepped up, and I’m very proud of them for getting these two wins.”

Northeast jumped ahead 2-0 in the shootout after David Andreychuk and Ryan Gordon put shots past Johnstown goalie Sam Evola in the first two rounds.

Desperately needing a tally, Jacob Badal found the back of the net on the Tomahawks’ next turn, and Stephen Kyrkostas followed with a goal to even the shootout at 2-all. After Evola stopped Paul Minnehan in the fourth round, Frank Jenkins squirted a shot through Generals netminder Cullen DeYoung’s legs to claim the win.

“I honestly just went in and took a shot,” Jenkins said. “I didn’t even know it went in at first. I’m happy I can do what I can to make an impact for this team, and I’m very happy we won.”

Jenkins also played the hero role in regulation for the Tomahawks.

The native of Fraser, Michigan, recorded the game-tying goal on the power play with just under nine minutes to go in the third period.

“We just kept digging,” Jenkins said. “We kept our head in and stuck to the game plan. This is definitely good for us.”

Northeast had a two-goal advantage after the first period courtesy of back-to-back tallies from Andreychuk at the 6:52 and 16:12 marks.

The Generals then went ahead 3-0 four minutes into the second period after Joe Schubert put a shot off of Evola, and the rebound deflected off Tomahawks defender David Wilcox into the net.

“That was definitely an unlucky bounce,” Letizia said.

“Sammy made a great save and it just went in off our defender, but we just shook it off and kept playing. As we kept going, we felt better and better about how we were playing. They gutted it out for sure.”

Jake Black got Johnstown on the board at 9:17 of the second period, putting home a power play goal off a one-time pass from Badal. Kyrkostas recorded a short-handed tally three minutes later to put the Tomahawks within striking distance at 3-2, setting up Jenkins’ game-tying goal.

On Sunday:

Rebels 3, Tomahawks 2: In Jamestown, N.Y., Johnstown suffered its first loss of 2022 at the hand of Jamestown.

The Tomahawks opened the scoring in the second period with Badal’s goal at the 5:21 mark.

Jamestown responded right away with a goal of its own, when James Miller potted his second of the season at the 6:06 mark, but Johnstown regained the advantage as Jake Black notched his 21st goal of the season with 10:46 left in the period.

Jamestown’s Lukas Klemm tied the game at 2 early in the third. That was followed by the Rebels’ Marcus Kivela Carlzon’s go-ahead tally with 5:11 to go in regulation.

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