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Weekend Preview: Johnstown vs. Fairbanks

 

            The Johnstown Tomahawks close out their four-game homestand this weekend, as they welcome the Fairbanks Ice Dogs to the Cambria County War Memorial. The Tomahawks enter the weekend two points behind Aston and New Jersey for first place in the East Division.

            Fairbanks enters the weekend as the leader of the East Division, 10 points ahead of the Minnesota Wilderness. The Ice Dogs have gone 8-0-2 in their last ten games, and are closing out an eight game East Division road trip this weekend.

THE SERIES

            The Tomahawks and Ice Dogs battled twice this season in Alaska, with the Ice Dogs coming out on top in both games. In the first meeting, Fairbanks jumped out to a 4-1 lead after one period, with the lone Tomahawks goal coming from Cameron Smith.

The Tomahawks pulled back within two early in the third period, as Kelly O’Brien scored at 4:32. Fairbanks responded with four goals, before Casey Linkenheld set the final score at 18:08. Four Tomahawks players registered a goal and assist in the game, while Clay Cross and Ryner Gorowsky led the Ice Dogs with a goal and two assists each.

In the second meeting on Halloween night, the Ice Dogs jumped out to a 3-0 lead, scoring all three goals in the first 12:10 of the game. Adam Pilewicz got the Tomahawks on the board at 16:31, but the Ice Dogs closed out the period with a pair of goals to take a 5-1 lead.

Andrew Romano got the Tomahawks back on the board with a power-play goal at 3:59 of the second period, before Fairbanks regained a four-goal lead with a Todd Burgess power-play goal at 12:04. Linkenheld made it 6-3, scoring his second goal of the weekend at 16:02.

Justin Cmunt and Linkenheld scored in the third period, but a Logan Coomes goal set the final at 7-5. Linkenheld finished the game with two goals and an assist, while Zak Galambos and Drew Doyon each added two assists.

Johnstown and Fairbanks have met six times in their history, with the Ice Dogs holding a 4-2 advantage in the all-time series. The Tomahawks are 1-1 against the Ice Dogs at the Cambria County War Memorial.

Casey Linkenheld and Alex Alger each have five points against the Ice Dogs in two seasons, while Luke Lynch has four points (one goal, three assists). Todd Burgess has eight points (2 goals, 6 assists) in six career meetings, while Ryner Gorowsky has three goals and four assists in six meetings.

 

 

Johnstown

            The Tomahawks come into this weekend winners of three straight, after sweeping the Kenai River Brown Bears last weekend.

            On New Year’s Eve, the Tomahawks jumped out to a 2-0 lead, thanks to goals by Brendan Jaquay and Romano. The Brown Bears responded with a pair of goals in the second period, before taking a 3-2 lead 5:47 into the third period.

            Linkenheld quickly responded, tying the game at 6:30. He regained the lead at 10:39, before Pilewicz and Lynch set the final score at 6-3. Andrew Lindgren earned the win, stopping 19 of 22 shots.

            The Tomahawks picked up the weekend sweep Jan. 2, thanks to goals from Ryan Burr, Romano and O’Brien. The Brown Bears took an early 1-0 lead, as Miro Lehtimaki scored 3:02 into the game.

            Burr tied the game late in the period, before Andrew Romano gave Johnstown its first lead of the game 17:40 into the second period. O’Brien set the final score, scoring with 2:32 remaining in regulation. Ryan Glander earned the win, stopping 26 of 27 shots.

            Lynch and Romano enter this weekend tied for the team lead with 32 points. Lynch leads with 15 goals, while Romano holds the top spot with 23 assists.

            Following this weekend’s games, the Tomahawks travel to Aston next Friday and New Jersey next Saturday. They return home to take on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Jan. 22 and 23.

Fairbanks

            Fairbanks visits Johnstown, after splitting a pair of games against Aston last weekend. The teams traded 5-2 victories, with Fairbanks taking the first one and Aston taking the second one.

            In the first game Saturday night, the Ice Dogs got on the board first, thanks to a Mitchell Baumann goal at 11:21. Just over two minutes later, Andrew Bellant tied the game with his seventh goal of the season.

            Fairbanks regained the lead 1:51 into the second period, as Reggie Lutz connected on a short-handed goal. Aston tied the game later in the period, before the Ice Dogs closed out the second period scoring with goals from Clay Cross and Logan Coomes. Alex Mehnert set the final score with a goal at 11:25 of the third period.

            In the weekend finale, the Rebels jumped out to a two-goal lead, before Baumann got the Ice Dogs on the board at 12:05 of the second period. The rebels extended their lead to 3-1, before Ryner Gorowsky pulled Fairbanks back within one late in the second period.

            The Rebels closed out the game with a pair of third period goals, sending the Ice Dogs back on the road with a weekend split.

            Todd Burgess leads Fairbanks in goals (21), assists (32) and points (53). Goaltender Gavin Nieto holds the team lead with 16 wins.

            The Ice Dogs return home next weekend to open up a seven-game homestand against Springfield. They close out the homestand against the Minnesota Wilderness and Kenai River Brown Bears.

GAME NOTES

Long Stretch Ahead

            This weekend’s games mark the final time that the Tomahawks will play a non-divisional opponent this season. The Tomahawks will play their final 23 games against East Division opponents, with 11 of those games being played at the Cambria County War Memorial.

            Fairbanks has four more non-divisional games remaining after this weekend, as they welcome Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and New Jersey in March.

Scoring Strength

            The top three scorers in the North American Hockey league all have one thing in common, they play in Fairbanks. Forwards Todd Burgess, Ryner Gorowsky and Logan Coomes lead the league in points this season, and all three rank among the league’s best in goals and assists.

            Tomahawks forwards Luke Lynch and Andrew Romano are tied for fifth in the league with 32 points.

Strong Support

            Johnstown and Fairbanks rank among the top teams in the league when it comes to attendance. Both the Tomahawks and Ice Dogs rank in the top five this season, a feat that both teams have achieved during the past three seasons.

            The Tomahawks had the highest attendance in the league on both New Year’s Eve and Jan. 2.