Jeff Bergh, Ian Spencer, and Cody Gylling moments before hitting the ice.
Johnstown Tomahawks vs. Wenatchee Wild
When: Friday, Nov. 30 at 10:05 p.m. & Saturday, Dec. 1 at 10:05 p.m. ET
Where: Town Toyota Center, Wenatchee, WA
By Suzanne Grove
and Ed Sheets
This weekend will serve as the first of four meetings this season between the Tomahawks and Wenatchee Wild, who eliminated the Alaska Avalanche from the 2012 NAHL playoffs prior to the Avalanche’s move to Johnstown this season. Friday’s game will mark the fifth time Johnstown has played a team outside of its own North Division: The Tomahawks played at least one team in each of the other three divisions during the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, MN.
Johnstown Friday will play its 24th game of 2012-2013 and its 12th road game while Wenatchee will play its 21st game and ninth home game.
As part of the Tomahawks’ two-week West Coast road trip, they will play the Fresno Monsters in Fresno, California Dec. 7-8. The only games against non-divisional teams for the remainder of the season will come in February when the Tomahawks once again play the Wild and Monsters in two consecutive weekend series at home.
THE TOMAHAWKS (11-6-6)
The Tomahawks are currently in fourth place in the North Division with 28 points coming into the weekend, six points behind the division-leading Jamestown Ironmen. The team stretched its road unbeaten streak to five (4-0-1) and has won a season-high four straight games upon completing the sweep of the Ironmen last weekend in Jamestown, NY. After struggling early this season away from the War Memorial, the Tomahawks have become road warriors and received outstanding performances from multiple players, who contributed to the team’s 5-3 victory on Friday and 3-2 win on Saturday.
On Nov. 23, Johnstown capitalized on the power play, scoring four goals with the man-advantage and snapping Jamestown’s nine-game home win streak. The team had a season-high four power-play goals. Brandon Reinholz scored two goals, while Mitch Kontny, Jeff Bergh, and Casey Nelson each contributed one. Goaltender Chris Truehl was solid between the pipes, stopping 30 of 33 shots in his 11th appearance of the season.
On Nov. 24, the team completed the sweep of Jamestown and several players extended impressive scoring streaks. Reinholz scored his third goal of the weekend, and eighth in seven road games this season, and set up captain Mitch Kontny’s game-winner on the power play early in the third period. Reinholz circled behind the net, then fed Kontny in the slot for his 11th goal, extending Kontny’s scoring streak to eight games (6-4-10). Truehl, who has committed to continue his career at Air Force next season, stopped 35 shots while making his fifth start in seven games. His play was especially critical in the opening period, when he stopped all 17 Jamestown shots on his way to yet another solid performance.
Nelson’s assist on Cody Gylling’s goal to make it 1-0 in the second period, extending Nelson’s scoring streak to five games (2-3-5) and, at that point, gave Johnstown five power-play goals in eight chances for the weekend. The Tomahawks built their lead to 2-0 at 15:11 of the second when the rebound of a Jake Fairchild shot bounced to Reinholz at the bottom of the left wing circle and Reinholz fired it past Jamestown’s Tim Shaughnessy for his 11th goal of the season, tying Kontny for the team lead in goals.
THE WILD (16-3-1)
The Wild enter the weekend after sweeping the Fresno Monsters at home last weekend. They have been impressive at home with a record of 7-1-0 and are in second place in the West Division, just three points behind division-leading Fairbanks and five points better than the Tomahawks’ 28 points. They have won four straight at home since falling on Oct. 26 to Minot, 3-1.
On Nov. 23, Wenatchee defeated Fresno, 3-1. The following night they picked up the weekend sweep with a 6-1 win. The Wild dominated the shots in both games, outshooting Fresno 38-17 on Friday night and 43-22 on Saturday night. They were also effective on the penalty kill, going 9-for-11.
Goaltender Robert Nichols was strong in net, winning both games and allowing only one goal on 27 shots in five periods of work. He is tied with SOO’s Tyler Marble for the league lead in shutouts on the season with three and his 1.92 GAA is fourth-best in the league. He is 4-1-0 in his last five games, with his last loss coming on Oct. 27 against Minot. Jono Davis (16-13-29) had a goal and an assist in the weekend series. He is currently third in the league in goals and fifth in points. He has gone 3-2-5 in his last five games.
Wenatchee started off strong, winning nine of their first 10 games, including eight straight to start the season. Last season the Wild broke the league’s regular-season records for fewest goals allowed and lowest goals-against average. They only gave up 102 goals, which translated into a 1.70 goals-against average.
Last season Wenatchee finished with 79 points (36-17-7), second only to Fairbanks (86), and was swept in the West Division finals by Fairbanks in three games. The Wild are celebrating their fifth anniversary season in the NAHL. In their first two seasons, they won the West Division title. They have made the playoffs in each of their first four seasons and have not finished lower than second in the West Division.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Brandon Reinholz:The St. Cloud, MN native is tied for the team lead in goals (11) and power-play goals (5). He has nine points (7-2-9) in his last 10 games, including a goal and an assist in Saturday’s 3-2 win at Jamestown.
Blake Roubos:The 5-8, 170-pound Forward from Niagara Falls, Canada has been on a roll for the Wild. He has 11 points (6-5-11) in his last 10 games, including two power-play goals and a game-winning goal. He is second on the team with 20 points (8-12-20). He has surpassed his point and assist totals from last season and is close to matching his goal total. He had (10-8-18) in 26 games last season.
· Reinholz now has eight goals in seven road games.
· After scoring his 11th goal of the season on Nov. 24, Kontny extended his scoring streak to eight games (6-4-10).
· The Tomahawks PP has gone 15-for-42 (35.7 percent) in the last eight games.
· Johnstown has allowed only 13 first-period goals in 23 games this season.
· Nelson continued his scoring streak to five games (2-3-5) with his assist on Nov. 24. He is tied in second place for league defensive leader in points (6-12-18). He also leads the league in shots with 82 and has the third most assists in the league with 10.
· The Tomahawks have the most power-play goals in the league with 29.
· Johnstown is currently 29-for-128 (22.7 percent) on the power play and 89-for-107 (83.2 percent) on the penalty kill.
· Kontny’s eight-game scoring streak gives him the second longest current streak in the NAHL
· Only two other teams have longer win streaks than Johnstown (4).
· The Wild have had over 30 players commit to college in their five-year history, including five so far this season (Davis, Hartley, Luedtke, Nichols, and Puskarich).
· Wenatchee head coach Bliss Littler has produced 102 Division I players and 22 of his players have been drafted by NHL teams.
· Wenatchee and Johnstown have both been near the top in attendance this season with the Wild drawing 23,420 fans and the Tomahawks drawing 23,936 fans.