Johnstown Tomahawks vs. Fresno Monsters
When: Friday, Dec. 7 at 10:35 p.m. & Saturday, Dec. 8 at 10:35 p.m. ET
Where: Selland Arena, CA
By Suzanne Grove
This weekend will serve as the first of four meetings this season between the Tomahawks and Fresno Monsters. Friday’s game will mark the seventh 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 and split two games with the West Division’s Wenatchee Wild on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.
On Friday Johnstown will play its 26th game of 2012-2013 and its 14th road game while Fresno will play its 23rd game and ninth home game.
The Tomahawks finish their two-week West Coast road trip with this weekend series in California. 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 (12-7-6)
The Tomahawks are currently in fourth place in the North Division with 30 points coming into the weekend, eight points behind the division-leading Jamestown Ironmen. The team stretched its road unbeaten streak to six (5-0-1) and won a season-high five straight games upon winning, 4-3, in overtime in Wenatchee on Nov. 30. But, Johnstown was unable to sweep Wenatchee, losing the next night, 1-0, and ending its streak. Still, the Tomahawks have continued to find success on the road, earning points in six of their last seven away games. The team is now 5-4-4 away from the War Memorial.
On Nov. 30, Jordan Watt scored his eighth goal of the season 53 seconds into overtime to earn the team’s 4-3 victory. Andrew McDonald had two goals, including Johnstown’s first short-handed goal of the season. McDonald continued to prove himself a valuable asset to the Tomahawks, having notched five goals and nine points (5-4-9) since he was acquired from Fresno in a trade for Brandon Brossoit on Oct. 26. Goaltender Chris Truehl made 34 saves in his 13th appearance of the season, helping his team to give the Wild their fifth overall loss of the season. Cobi Smith-Mass, who suffered a shoulder injury on Sept. 30, returned to the lineup after a two-month absence.
On Dec. 1, the Tomahawks failed to capitalize on any of their six power-play chances and were outshot 39-18 in a 1-0 loss. Both teams were held off the board until the third period when Wenatchee’s Jono Davis scored the shorthanded, game-winning goal with 7:18 remaining. Truehl helped keep the score deficit to a minimum, making 38 saves.
The Tomahawks return home to the War Memorial Arena for a two-game home stand against the Ironmen on Dec. 14 and 15 at 7:00 p.m. In their last meeting on Nov. 23 and 24, Johnstown swept the Ironmen.
THE MONSTERS (6-13-3)
The Monsters enter the weekend after being swept by Jamestown, losing 4-3 on Nov. 30 and 4-0 on Dec. 1. Fresno is currently in last place in the West Division with 15 points (Fairbanks leads the division with 36) and sits at the bottom of the entire league, second only to Odessa of the South Division (10). The Monsters will look to end their current four-game losing streak, which began on Nov. 23.
Fresno’s front office has remained busy throughout the first half of the season, making a handful of trades and transactions, which include sending McDonald to Johnstown in exchange for Brossoit, who is a native of Los Alamitos, CA. Both players have produced for their new teams, with Brossoit contributing three goals and five points (3-2-5) in his six games with the Monsters. He leads his team in points with 16, 11 of which he earned with the Tomahawks. Only three points behind Brossoit is Matt Salituro (2-11-13), who has played only two games with Fresno after being acquired from the Janesville Jets. The native of Richmond Hill, Ontario contributed with one assist in his first weekend with Fresno.
One of the newest team’s in the league, the franchise was announced in the spring of 2009 after the city lost the Fresno Falcons of the ECHL. Fresno began in the Tier III Jr. A Western States Hockey League, transitioning to the NAHL for the 2010-2011 season.
Despite starting 2011-2012 with a strong record of 7-0-2, the team would ultimately find itself out of playoff position, finishing in fifth place in the West with a record of 27-23-10. They were the second-most penalized team in the league after the Amarillo Bulls, averaging over 24 penalty minutes per game.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Andrew McDonald: McDonald joined the Tomahawks at the end of October when he was acquired in a trade for Brossoit. Since his arrival, he has become an important part of the Tomahawks locker room and contributed with five goals and nine points (5-4-9). He went 1-4-5 with the Monsters during his nine games with them. The forward from New Brighton, MN is currently +3.
Brandon Brossoit: Brossoit notched 11 points with the Tomahawks and now leads Fresno with 16 points after scoring three goals and earning five points with his new team (3-2-5). He has failed to contribute during the team’s four-game losing streak, adding only one assist. He will face his old team for the first time.
· Johnstown continues to have the most OT loses in the league (6).
· The Tomahawks are tied with the Ironmen for the most goals in the North Division (84).
· The Tomahawks have seven regulation loses this season. Only six teams in the league have less.
· Johnstown’s PP has gone 29-for-135 (21.5 percent. Fourth in the league and second in the division) on the season while the PK has gone 92-for-110 (83.6 percent).
· The Tomahawks are tied with Texas for the most PP goals (29).
· Johnstown has the most power-play opportunities in the league with 135 while Fresno has 84.
· Fresno’s PP is 12-for-84 (14.3 percent) and its PK is 79-for-98 (80.6 percent).