Soo Eagles vs. Johnstown Tomahawks
When: Saturday, October 20 at 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: Cambria County War Memorial Arena, Johnstown, PA
By Suzanne Grove
Johnstown and the Soo Eagles meet tonight for the second time in as many nights and fourth time in nine days. The teams met for the first time this season last weekend in Michigan, where the Eagles swept the Tomahawks in a 5-4 shootout victory Friday and a 4-1 win on Saturday. The Tomahawks responded with a 3-2 shootout victory Friday night at home, as captain Mitch Kontny scored with 3:40 left to tie the game and scored the shootout-winning goal .
After Saturday’s game, the teams do not meet again until the Eagles pay another visit to Johnstown for a single game on Jan. 13.
THE TOMAHAWKS (6-4-4)
Johnstown is 5-1-2 in its past eight games and trails fourth-place Soo in the North Division by just one point heading into Saturday’s game. Despite sitting fifth after Friday’s shootout win, the Tomahawks are just four points behind first-place Port Huron in the division standings.
The Tomahawks, 4-0-1 at the War Memorial, have allowed only four goals while winning their past two games. Collin Brennan, a native of Chester, NJ acquired from the Janesville Jets at the end of September, has been in goal for both, stopping 59 of 63 shots along the way (.936). He made his debut in a Tomahawks sweater last Sunday, stopping 27 of 29 shots in a 4-2 road win over Michigan.
Johnstown benefited Friday from some great discipline, as the Tomahawks took only one minor penalty during their win over the Eagles.
The Soo Eagles have earned points in eight consecutive games (6-0-2) after their shootout loss Friday, the NAHL’s longest current streak and second-longest this season (Texas, 9 games). The last time the Eagles failed to earn a point in a game was during a 6-4 loss to Kalamazoo on Sept. 22. Tonight is the second of eight straight road games for Soo, which is 2-2-2 on the road this season and will play two games at Michigan next weekend
The Eagles’ Jared VanWormer and Eric Rivard are among four players tied for second in NAHL scoring with 18 points this season, although both were held off the scoresheet Friday night by the Tomahawks. VanWomer (14) and Rivard (12) are ranked first and second, respectively, in assists in the NAHL. Goaltender Tyler Marble, meanwhile, is 6-1-2 this season and his .938 save percentage is tied for the league lead.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Jesse Kessler: The Franklin, Tenn. native has nine points in 14 games this season (4-5-9), tied for fifth among NAHL defensemen, and he leads all defensemen with two game-winning goals. He is third overall in scoring for the Tomahawks and has one goal and six points in the last five games.
Sault Ste. Marie
Cody Von Rueden: The Northbrook, IL native has points in all three games against Johnstown this season (1-2-3), including an assist Friday night on Dallas McLaughlin’s go-ahead goal in the second period. Von Rueden is a +1 and has six points in 14 games this season for the Eagles.
· Johnstown ranks 10th in the NAHL on the power play (14-for-76, 18.4 %) and 10th on the penalty kill (53-for-67, 85.1 percent).
· Only five teams have scored more first-period goals than Johnstown (13).
· Johnstown is fourth in the NAHL in shots (433).
· The Tomahawks and Wichita Falls have each participated in four shootouts, tops in the league.
· Soo is 5-0-2 when leading after two periods; Johnstown is 3-0-2.
Johnstown has scored first in 10 of its last 11 games coming into this weekend. . . After Saturday’s game, the Tomahawks will visit Kalamazoo for afternoon games next Saturday and Sunday. . .