Tomahawks vs. Jr. Hat Tricks – Nov. 21, 2021

The Johnstown Tomahawks' Noah Wagner (14) and David Wilcox (left) celebrate with teammates after Wagner's goal during a North American Hockey League contest against the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks, Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial.

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – The Johnstown Tomahawks got an offensive boost from a couple of unexpected sources Sunday afternoon.

Noah Wagner and Egan Schmitt each found the net for the first time this season to key a three-goal second-period outburst by the Tomahawks that provided the winning margin in a 6-3 victory over the visiting Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial.

Schmitt later added an empty-net goal in the final seconds and also picked up an assist for the Tomahawks (10-7-2), who moved within two points of third-place New Jersey in the NAHL East Division standings after earning the split with the Jr. Hat Tricks (5-13-3).

“We’re missing some key guys out with injuries, and we needed guys to step up,” said Johnstown coach Mike Letizia. “Luch’s (Ryan Vellucci, who tallied three assists) line with Schmitty (Schmitt) and Wags (Wagner) all chipped in. It was really good to see from those guys, especially Schmitty and Wags getting their first goals of the season.”

“They drove the train for us today and I was really proud of them.”

Tomahawks goaltender Sam Evola stopped 28 of 31 Danbury shots to improve his record to 7-4-1 on the year.

Johnstown outshot the Jr. Hat Tricks 14-10 in the opening period, but Danbury tallied the only goal in the frame when Marian Haborak converted the first power-play opportunity of the game at 4:25 on assists by Gabe Dombrowski and Joshua Burke.

The Tomahawks came roaring back in the second with three unanswered goals in a span of less than three minutes.

“Our first period wasn’t great,” said Letizia. “But we got it going a little bit in the second and got some goals.”

Wagner put Johnstown on the board when he chipped one in on the doorstep of the crease at 4:14, with Vellucci and Schmitt picking up assists on the play.

A little over a minute later, Jacob Badal found an opening on a break after taking a feed from Dusty Geregach and backhanded a shot past Adam Johnson for his seventh goal of the season to put the Tomahawks in the lead.

Schmitt then made it 3-1 at the 7:03 mark when he scored on a wraparound after a Vellucci assist.

“It was really exciting,” Schmitt said. “I wasn’t expecting it.” “I just got back here a week ago, and I’m very happy to be contributing.”

Peter Lychnikoff’s shot from between the circles at 10:22 pulled the Jr. Hat Tricks within one heading into the third, but Johnstown was able to take command of the game with a pair of insurance goals in the final period.

Johnny Ulicny netted his seventh tally of the year on assists from David Wilcox and Wagner at 15:50, and just 42 seconds later the Tomahawks cashed in their first power play chance of the contest.

Zachary Murray’s 10th goal of the season made it 5-2, with Geregach picking up his second assist of the game on the play, along with Jake Black.

Jazz Krivtsov put home a deflected goal for the Jr. Hat Tricks at 18:50 to close the gap to two, but Schmitt then put the game on ice with six seconds to go with an empty-netter on an assist from Vellucci.

“It wasn’t our prettiest hockey, but you’ve got to find a way to win, and I think we did that,” said Letizia.

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