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GAME PREVIEW: Vs. Michigan

GAME PREVIEW

Johnstown Tomahawks vs. Michigan Warriors

 

When:

Friday, Jan. 4 and Saturday, Jan. 5 at 7:05 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 6 at 4:00 p.m.

 

Where:

Perani Arena and Event Centre, Flint, MI

 

By Suzanne Grove

 

THE SERIES

 

The Tomahawks’ three games in three days this weekend will mark the team’s fourth, fifth, and sixth meetings with the Michigan Warriors for the 2012-2013 NAHL season. For its inaugural home opening weekend, Johnstown hosted Michigan, splitting two games. On Sept. 29 the Tomahawks fell, 3-2, in a shootout in front of a sellout crowd. The next afternoon, the team earned its first win at home with a 4-2 victory.

 

On Sept. 29, Michigan’s Jake Hopfner scored twice in regulation, including the game-tying goal with 3:09 to play, and Zach Szajner delivered the only goal of the shootout. Johnstown defenseman Cody Bentzel had two assists and Cobi Smith-Mass and Brandon Reinholz each contributed a goal. Chris Truehl made his debut in a Tomahawks uniform.

 

On Sept. 30, the Tomahawks responded with a 4-2 home win after Jesse Kessler broke a 2-2 tie with 5:04 to play, and Brandon Brossoit added an empty-net goal to start a three-game home win streak for the Tomahawks, who outshot Michigan, 39-22.

 

The last game between these teams gave Johnstown a 2-0-1 record against the Warriors when the Tomahawks won, 4-2, on Oct. 14 in Michigan. Kessler and Cody Gylling each had three points in the team’s first road win of the season. Goaltender Colin Brennan, acquired from the Janesville Jets at the end of September, made his debut in a Tomahawks sweater and stood strong between the pipes, stopping 27 of 29 shots.

 

The Tomahawks have been successful on the penalty kill against the Warriors, going 12-for-13, and have converted 20 percent of their power-play opportunities, going two-for-10.

 

Friday will mark Johnstown’s 34th game of the season and 18throad game. Michigan will also play its 34thgame of the season and its 17thhome game. The two teams will meet for the final time in the regular season at the War Memorial on Jan. 18 and 19.

 

THE TOMAHAWKS (17-9-7)

 

The Tomahawks are currently in fourth place in the North Division with 41 points coming into the three-game road trip, seven points behind the division-leading Sault Ste. Marie Eagles. The 41 points also place Johnstown 16 points ahead of the Warriors, who stand in last place in the division. The Tomahawks are back on the road for the first time since they split two games with the Port Huron Fighting Falcons on Dec. 21 and 22. Johnstown currently has a road record of 8-5-4 and has won six of its last eight road games. The team also has points in 12 of its last 14 games.

 

The Tomahawks exited last weekend’s homestand against the Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings with three of four points, winning, 2-1, on Dec. 30 and losing, 3-2, in a shootout on Dec. 31.

 

On Dec. 30, Gylling scored a penalty shot goal with less than five seconds remaining in regulation, giving the Tomahawks a 2-1 victory in front of a packed house at the War Memorial Arena. The Tomahawks were granted the rare opportunity after a Kalamazoo player dislodged the net. After several scrums, a pile-up near the Johnstown net, and two fights, it became clear that Johnstown and Kalamazoo are fierce rivals. It was the Tomahawks third consecutive win against Kalamazoo. Both goaltenders were solid in the game, with Chris Truehl stopping 26 of 27 shots in his 15thstart, while Alex Okicki stopped 28 of 30 while taking the loss. The Tomahawks capitalized on one of 10 power-play chances when Jordan Watt scored his 12thof the season in the second period. Kalamazoo was unable to connect on any of its six chances.

 

On Dec. 31, the Tomahawks lost in a shootout in front of a sellout New Year’s Eve crowd. After Kontny put the team ahead at 16:03 of the first period, Kalamazoo immediately responded with a goal 1:14 later. After a scoreless second period, the Jr. K-Wings gained a 2-1 advantage at 8:50. Kontny scored his second of the night to send the teams into overtime at 16:11 of the final period. Neither team scored during the extra five minutes, and Kalamazoo scored three goals on Brennan in the shootout to earn the win.

 

Following this weekend, the Tomahawks will head back to Johnstown for five consecutive home games on two weekends. It will mark their longest homestand of the season.

 

THE WARRIORS(10-18-5)

 

The Warriors enter the series with Johnstown after sweeping Springfield on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. Michigan has gone 5-3-2 in its last 10 games and currently sits in eighth place in the North Division with 25 points, 16 points behind Johnstown. The Warriors are 4-8-4 at home this season and they have gone 3-1-1 in their last five home games.

 

On Dec. 31, Michigan scored three unanswered goals, including two less than 20 seconds apart, to defeat Springfield, 4-2. Corey Schueneman provided two assists while Martin Gruse added a goal and an assist. Goaltender Trevor Gorsuch stopped 27 of 29 shots in the win.

 

The Warriors started 2013 strong while sweeping Springfield with a 3-2 victory on Jan. 1. For the second straight game, the Warriors used three unanswered goals in the third period to pick up the win. Darren McCormick and AJ Marcinek each added a goal in the win and Gorsuch stopped 45 of 47 shots in the win.

 

Michigan will host the final game of its four-game homestand against Kalamazoo on Jan. 12 before traveling to Kalamazoo on Jan. 13.

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

 

Johnstown

 

Cody Gylling:The Chandler, AZ native has played in all 33 games for the Tomahawks this season while holding the team leads in points, assists, and shots by a forward. He also provided the game-winning goal on a penalty shot with less than five seconds remaining in the third period on Dec. 30 while providing an assist in the loss on Dec. 31.

 

Michigan

 

Martin Gruse: The native of Trenton, MI has recently heated up in his last 10 games, tallying six goals and six assists. He is tied for the team lead in goals, while leading the team in assists, points, and shots. He has also appeared in all 33 games for Michigan this season.

 

STAT PACK

  • ·      Johnstown has points in 12 of its last 14 games and has won six of its last eight road games.
  • ·      Gylling (8-18-26) leads the team in points, while Kontny is second (14-8-22).
  • ·      The Tomahawks have the most OT losses in the league (seven).
  • ·      The Tomahawks lead the North Division in goals with 109 (fourth in the league).
  • ·      Johnstown’s PP has gone 36-for-177 (20.3 percent, third in the league and first in the division) on the season while the PK has gone 127-for-150 (84.7 percent).  
  • ·      The Tomahawks have the second-most power-play goals in the NAHL with 36.  
  • ·      Johnstown has the most power-play opportunities in the league with 177.
  • ·      Michigan’s PP is 8-for-97 (8.25 percent) and its PK is 104-for-119 (87.3 percent, fifth in the league and second in the division)

 

NOTES:

  • ·       Michigan is coached by Moe Mantha, who played 12 seasons in the NHL for five teams including the Pittsburgh Penguins. He also coached in the American Hocey League and the East Coast Hockey League.

 

  • ·       On Wednesday, Jan. 9 the Tomahawks will play in a charity game with nine current NHL players at the War Memorial Arena at 7 p.m.