Game Preview: vs. Fresno


Fresno Monsters vs. Johnstown Tomahawks

Feb. 22 and 23 at 7 p.m.


War Memorial Arena, Johnstown, PA

By Suzanne Grove


This weekend’s series marks the first and only time during the 2012-2013 NAHL regular season that the Tomahawks host the Fresno Monsters. Over 2,500 miles separate these two teams, which first played each other on Dec. 7 when Johnstown visited Fresno as part of a six-game, month-long road stint that resulted in five wins and 10 points. The Tomahawks swept the Monsters, earning a 6-1 victory in the team’s first game in the Golden State and winning, 4-3, the following night.

Inside Selland Arena on Dec. 7 former Fresno players Andrew McDonald and Zach Wallace combined for five points, helping the Tomahawks to the win. The six-goal night is a team high for Johnstown and has occurred only three other times this season: On Sept. 13 the Tomahawks won, 6-5, against Kenai River, on Oct. 28 the Tomahawks won 6-2, against Kalamazoo and on Jan. 13 Johnstown defeated Soo, 6-2. Cody Bentzel, Ian Spencer, JB Baker, Jeff Bergh, and Cody Gylling also scored for Johnstown. Colin Brennan was between the pipes, stopping 25 of 26 shots on the night.

The Tomahawks completed the sweep on Dec. 8 when Bergh scored the game-winner less that seven minutes into the third period and Brandon Reinholz added a goal and an assist in the 4-3 win. McDonald provided an assist on Bergh’s goal, giving him four points (1-3-4) on the weekend against his former team.

Throughout both games, Fresno was able to score one power-play goal on eight chances, while the Tomahawks went 2-for-10. The Tomahawks were outshot, 61-55, over the weekend.

Friday marks Johnstown’s 51st game and 27th home game. The Monsters will play their 19th road game and 47th game overall.


THE TOMAHAWKS (22-18-10)

The Tomahawks continue to sit in fourth place in the North Division with 54 points – the same position they were in entering last weekend’s games against Wenatchee. However, they are now 16 points behind the division leading Eagles, who earned four points in a sweep of Port Huron . . . The Hawks will enter the weekend looking to get the sweep at home for the first time since they defeated Kalamazoo in two games on Nov. 9 and 10. Johnstown is now 1-3-1 in its last five games and 12-10-4 at home this season.


One key to a Tomahawks win may be for the team to score first and maintain the lead throughout the first period – The team is 15-8-8 when scoring first and 11-2-3 when leading after the first. (Fresno is only 6-6-4 when scoring first) . . . Johnstown will also look to avoid playing extra minutes and wrap up the two points within 60 minutes – After a shootout loss to Janesville on Feb. 8, the Tomahawks have played beyond regulation 14 times, winning only four of those games. They lead the league in overtime loses with 10.

With 30 points (10-20-30), Casey Nelson continues to be fifth in the league for points among defenseman. He also leads the entire league in shots by defenseman with 175– 50 more than Janesville’s Ruslan Pedan, who comes in second . . . Gylling continues to lead his team in points with 41 (16-25-41) and Mitch Kontny leads the team in goals with 19 (19-16-35). Chris Truehl has yet to face the Monsters in net, but has played in 11 of Johnstown’s last 13 games.

Last weekend, the Tomahawks were swept by Wenatchee. On Feb. 15 Wenatchee took advantage of two first period goals to defeat the Tomahawks, 3-1, in a physical game. Truehl took the loss, stopping 20 of 23 shots. Both teams were strong on the penalty kill, as the Tomahawks and Wild went a combined 11-for-11. Johnstown also got its second shorthanded goal of the season when Mitch Hall scored early in the second period. In their final meeting in the regular season the following night, the Tomahawks and Wild battled fiercely for 60 minutes. After several scrums and fights, the Wild were able to escape with a 3-2 win in front of a sell-out crowd at the War Memorial Arena. The two teams combined for 90 penalty minutes, nine fighting majors, and three misconduct penalties. Brennan took the loss, stopping 25 of 28 shots.

The Tomahawks are now 3-3-0 against West Division opponents.

Special Teams: The Tomahawks are 49-for-260 on the power play this season (18.9%) for third place in the league and first in the division. They have created more power-play opportunities than anyone else in the league and are second in PP goals. Meanwhile, the team is 198-for-235 (84.3%) on the penalty kill.

Following this weekend, the Tomahawks only have two home games remaining: They host the Jamestown Ironmen on March 8 and 9. The Tomahawks next play on the road against Springfield on March 1 and 2.


THE MONSTERS (12-28-6)

Fresno has not earned a point in seven games, holding the league’s current losing streak. The streak began on Feb. 1, and Fresno has not scored more than three goals since that date. Overall, the Monsters have lost their last 10 games, earning one point in a 3-2 overtime loss to Fairbanks on Jan. 27. Fresno sits in last place in the West Division with 30 points, 44 points behind leading Wenatchee. Fresno has scored 107 goals this season; only Odessa in the South Division has scored less with 95.


Fresno’s Matt Salituro leads his team in points with 35 (12-23-35) . . . Mitchell Snyder leads his team in goals with 14 (14-15-29).


Special Teams: Fresno is 22-for-172 (12.8%) on the power play and have gone 170-for-205 (82.9%) on the penalty kill.


The Monsters stay on the road to face Wenatchee next weekend.