Johnstown Tomahawks vs. Sault Ste. Marie Eagles
When: Friday, October 12 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Pullar Stadium, Sault Ste. Marie, MI
By Suzanne Grove
The Tomahawks hit the road for Sault Ste. Marie, Mi. on Thursday afternoon to face the Soo Eagles for the first time this season in two games on Friday and Saturday night. Following this weekend’s matchup, the two teams will play again next weekend, October 19 and 20, at the War Memorial Arena in Johnstown. The divisional rivals won’t play again until 2013, splitting four games in Johnstown and Michigan.
While Johnstown is playing its 11th game, Soo is playing its 12th.
THE TOMAHAWKS (4-3-3)
After two wins last weekend in Johnstown against the Janesville Jets, the Tomahawks have won three straight games and have points in their last four.
On Saturday night, Johnstown bested Janesville, 5-3, outshooting the Jets, 38-11. The team was able to notch three power-play goals while also going 6-for-7 on the penalty kill. The Tomahawks played their best game of the season, looking fast, strong, and physical for nearly the entire 60 minutes. Johnstown received goals from five different players, including captain Mitch Kontny, who lit the lamp only 16 seconds into the game. Defenseman Casey Nelson had the game-winner around the midpoint of the second period to make the game 4-1. The Tomahawks also had goals from Jaycob McCombs, who was returning from a two-game suspension, Brandon Brossoit, and Cody Gylling.
On Sunday afternoon, Johnstown hit the ice energized from the previous night’s win and looking to sweep Janesville, which is exactly what it did with a 4-1 win. Kontny scored first again, only 19 seconds into the game. The Tomahawks once again dominated in shots, 46-17. Goaltender Bodhi Engum gave another strong performance, stopping 16 of 17 shots while picking up his third straight win. Kontny’s second goal of the game in the third period marked his fourth of the season. Jordan Watt also contributed with the game-winning goal and Zach Wallace tallied his first of the season.
The Tomahawks are beginning to fall into rhythm, going 3-0-1 at the War Memorial Arena and 4-1-1 at home, which includes NAHL Showcase home games.
THE EAGLES (5-4-2)
The Soo Eagles enter Friday night’s game with a 3-2-1 home record. They currently rank fourth in the North Division, one point ahead of the Tomahawks, after earning three of four possible points last weekend at Port Huron, winning 2-1 Friday and losing 3-2 in a shootout Saturday. After these home games, the Eagles will play eight consecutive road games.
2012-2013 marks the Eagles’ inaugural season in the NAHL. However, Sault Ste. Marie is familiar with junior hockey; the Soo Kewadin Indians played there from 1995-2005 as part of the league.
The franchise spent the past four years in the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League before the team acquired the NAHL’s Traverse City North Stars franchise and relocated it to Sault Ste. Marie.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Brandon Brossoit:With nine points in his last 10 games, the forward from California leads his team and has proven to have soft hands and play-making abilities. He also ranks third in goals (3), second in assists (6), and third in shots (20).
Mitch Kontny: Kontny will try to add to his two-game goal streak started last weekend. The Superior, Wi. native had three goals and one assist in his last two games and was +3. He was named the NAHL Combat Hockey North Division Star of the Week and has displayed a strong on-ice presence and shown leadership as the team’s captain.
Eric Rivard: The Traverse City, Mi. native currently leads his team with 5 goals and 14 points. Those 14 points put him in a three-way tie for second place in the league. This season marks his fourth in the NAHL. Last season he played for the franchise’s Traverse City North Stars, earning 21 goals and an equal amount of assists for 42 points.
- Johnstown has gone 9-for-58 (15.52%) on the power play, earning more than twice as many chances as Soo, which has gone 4-for-28 (14.29%).
- The Eagles have been strong on the penalty kill, killing 42 of 47 (89.36%) chances.
- The Tomahawks’ Nelson not only leads his team in shots, but also leads the entire league in shots by a defenseman with 33.
- Brossoit and Gylling each have points in their last three games. Brossoit leads his team with nine while Gylling comes in second with eight.
- Soo ranks second in the league in shots with 361.
- Eagles goaltender Tyler Marble has the best save percentage in the league at .940. He has gone 5-1-1.
- The Tomahawks will miss Cobi Smith-Mass, who remains out with a shoulder injury.
- On Thursday, the Tomahawks traded forward Evan Hesse to Brookings.
- The team added Vancouver native Mike Sandor to the roster. Sandor played the previous two seasons with the Victoria Grizzlies of the British Columbia Hockey League.
- Johnstown plays again on Sunday, traveling nearly 300 miles south east to face the Michigan Warriors.