By Ed Sheets
CONNELLSVILLE-The Johnstown Tomahawks and Keystone Ice Miners battled hard in the season opener on Saturday night. In the end, the Ice Miners scored a late goal to take a 5-4 victory in front of 1,125 at the Ice Mine.
After early opportunities for both teams, Keystone struck first, as Jacob Coleman fired a shot past goaltender Ryan Bednard at 10:35 of the first period. Joey Soto and Lucas Little added assists on the goal. The Ice Miners extended their lead less than three minutes later, as Alex Archibald’s shot bounced past Bednard. Taylor Fernandes added the assist on the goal.
The Tomahawks got on the board at 16:21, when Brady Bender took a pass in front of the net from Andrew Romano and fired it just below the crossbar at 16:21. Tanner Barnes added an assist on the goal.
The Tomahawks tied the game 40 seconds into the second period, as Tanner Barnes shot from above the left faceoff circle slid between the post and the skate of Ice Miners goaltender Alex Blankenburg. Alex Jaeckle provided the assist on the second power-play goal of the game.
Less than two minutes later, the Tomahawks took the lead for the first time, as Trevor Recktenwald’s shot from just in front of Blankenburg found the back of the net.
The Tomahawks extended their lead, as Jake Houston chipped the puck into the right side of the net at 6:48. Recktenwald and Barnes earned the assist on the goal.
The Ice Miners cut the deficit to one 7:08 into the third period, as Coleman’s shot from the left face-off circle found its way past Bednard. Later in the period, Noah Batis tied the game, taking a quick pass from Coleman and connecting for a power-play goal.
Keystone picked up the game winner with 2:33 remaining in the game, as Garrett Hallford scored on a pass from Nick LeSage.
Blankenburg stopped 17 of 21 in the win, while Bednard stopped 22 of 27 in the loss. Johnstown went 2-for-4 on the power play, while Keystone went 2-for-5.
The Tomahawks travel to the 2014 NAHL Showcase next week in Blaine, Minn. They open the showcase against the Aberdeen Wings on Wednesday morning at 11:00 a.m. The Tomahawks home opener is October 25th against the Ice Miners at 7 p.m. Season Tickets start at less than $99 and can be purchased by calling 814-536-4625 or by visiting www.johnstowntomahawks.com.