The Johnstown Tomahawks defeated the Maine Nordiques Saturday night to clinch the top spot in the East Division with a 2-0 win.
After last night’s gut-wrenching 4-1 loss, the Tomahawks were looking to get back on track Saturday night and lock up first place in the East Division. Both teams made personnel changes in net. Maine went with Avery Sturtz between the pipes, while Johnstown went with the birthday boy Sam Evola in net.
The Tomahawks got off to a better start from the get-go Saturday night, with William Persson going backhand to score top shelf on Sturtz, getting the Hawks on the board 6:41 into the game. The Tomahawks had much better flow and momentum, with more pep in their step to start the game compared to the previous night. While the rest of the period played out relatively quiet, Maine’s Jack Strauss was called for tripping with just 20 seconds left in the period, giving the Tomahawks a power play opportunity for the end of the period and 1:40 of advantage time to start the 2nd.
Johnstown came out flying to start the period, looking to get a second goal on their power play, but Maine successfully killed off the remaining time of the power play. About halfway through the period, Tomahawks forward Holt Oliphant made a great defensive play, diving and stretching out his stick to prevent Maine from getting a shot on net, keeping the Hawks ahead by one in the middle frame. Similar to the night before, we saw very discipline hockey on Saturday night with Jared Gerger receiving only the second penalty of the game with 3:30 remaining in the 2nd period to give Maine their first power play opportunity of the game. The Tomahawks successfully killed off the penalty also to finish the period with no additional goals from the 1st, keeping it 1-0 Hawks going into what would be a big, decisive 3rd period.
The 3rd period started out with Will Margel getting the puck in the defensive zone and going flying down the ice on a breakaway to make it 2-0 just 1:45 into the period for his 21st goal of the season. Five minutes later Max Smolinski was called for tripping, but the Tomahawks successfully killed off the penalty again, along with the boarding minor given to Max Neill with 7:09 remaining in regulation. Maine pulled Sturtz from the net for an extra-attacker late, but Sam Evola stood tall, earning the shutout to give the Tomahawks a 2-0 win over the Maine Nordiques to clinch the East Division regular season championship. Evola ended the game with 37 saves on the Nordiques.
The Tomahawks head out on the road for the last time in the regular season next weekend as they travel to Danbury for a three-gamer with the Jr. Hat Tricks starting Friday, April 30. Watch the games on HockeyTV and follow along on social media for game day updates throughout the weekend.