Will Margel had a role in all four Johnstown Tomahawks goals on Saturday night.
The University of New Hampshire recruit from Potomac, Maryland, also had exceptional timing.
Margel scored a game-tying goal with only 28 seconds remaining in the second period and he netted the eventual game-winner 29 seconds into the final period in a 4-3 victory over the Northeast Generals at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial Arena.
The East Division-leading Tomahawks won their 17th consecutive home game.
“Special Night”. @JohnstownHawks coach Mike Letizia talks about Will Margel’s hat trick; 17 straight home wins; a tough Northeast team and the challenge awaiting in Sunday’s series finale. Hawks beat Generals 4-3 on Saturday. pic.twitter.com/ASERybQcMK— Michael Mastovich (@masty81) March 21, 2021
“He’s obviously been a huge part of our team since he arrived here,” Tomahawks coach Mike Letizia said after Margel added goals 10, 11 and 12 to his statistics. “We’ve seen over the last few weeks just how dynamic he can be. We had four goals and he was a factor in all of them with the hat trick and the assist on the first one.
“A special night for him. But we’re at the point now where it’s not really surprising. He does a good job every single day.”
The Tomahawks and Generals will conclude a three-game series at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Johnstown has won a pair of one-goal games, including 5-4 on Friday.
“I thought it was a bit closer game than it was (on Friday). Closer than we would have liked,” Margel said.
The teams traded goals through the first two periods.
Johnstown’s William Persson was in position in front of the net to deflect in a shot from the point by David Paluch 1:44 into the contest.
Northeast tied the score on a similar sequence, as Dylan Schuett deflected in a shot by Jayden Jensen at 2:47.
Margel broke loose and converted a one-on-one situation against goaltender Hugo Haas at 7:15 of the first period. But once again, the Generals responded via Brent Keefer’s short-handed tally at 12:10.
“They’re definitely a team that’s here to play,” Letizia said. “They’re battling. I give them a lot of credit. They’ve pretty much spent the entire season on the road and that’s not easy.”
Northeast took its first lead 17:06 into the middle period on a Ryan Gordon goal.
The Tomahawks answered on Margel’s second goal of the night, this one with his team skating 4-on-4 at 19:32 to set a 3-all score.
“They had the puck right in front of our bench and I just pressured them,” Margel said. “Kind of pick-pocketed it. I was able to get a breakaway and just shot it. It was good to get that one before the period ended.”
Margel completed the hat trick 29 seconds into the final period, converting a power play to give the ‘Hawks a 4-3 advantage.
The late and early goal combination was pivotal.
“We were fortunate and picked up a turnover there just inside their blue line,” Letizia said of the second-period, game-tying goal. “The puck on Will’s stick, you’d like to think you have a good chance there.
“We had a minute left on the power play at the start of the third,” the 'Hawks coach added. “With (Jay Ahearn) in the box, we decided to put the two (power play) units together, two from one and three from the other, and see if we can catch something. Good puck movement.”
Northeast nearly tied the game with 6:48 remaining when multiple players crammed into the crease and hit goaltender Sam Evola (35 saves) during a flurry. The puck crossed the line and initially was signaled as a goal. After a discussion, the officials ruled a no-goal due to contact with the goaltender.
“Sam Evola played very well,” Margel said. “One of their guys came in and kind of ran our goalie. There was a little scrum in front of the net and it went in. Little mistakes. We were glad they called it off.”
The Generals went on a power play with 2:16 left and called time out. Eventually, Northeast pulled goaltender Haas for an extra-attacker. Evola and the Tomahawks turned away the Generals. At least until Sunday’s action begins.
“It’s going to be a war for us again (Sunday),” Letizia said.