The Johnstown Tomahawks defeated the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks Sunday afternoon by a final score of 7-2. The Tomahawks had two new faces in the lineup Sunday afternoon with rookie goaltender Liam Gross and rookie forward Ryan Vellucci both making their debuts with the Tomahawks. On the bench, assistant coach and equipment manager Dave Dunkleberger worked his 400th game with the Tomahawks coaching staff since joining the organization back in 2014.
We saw early action when Liam Whitehouse was called for tripping 43 seconds into the game. Just as the penalty expired, Reed Stark got the Tomahawks on the board early with his tenth goal of the season. The Tomahawks got their first power play opportunity of the game when Danbury’s Steven Spetz was called for holding 8:48 into the 1st period. Halfway through the power play, Brendan Clark scored his 16th goal of the season to extend the lead to two for the Tomahawks, giving them their largest lead of the weekend over the Jr. Hat Tricks. 4 minutes later, Clark scored again to give Johnstown an demanding 3-0 lead in the opening period. Shortly after, frustrations started to set in for the Hat Tricks as a few penalties were called throughout the remaining minutes in the period. Robert Hyde of Danbury received the last penalty of the period late, with 7 seconds of carryover time going into the 2nd period for the Tomahawks to work with on their 3-0 lead.
Penalties continued coming for both sides, with a total of seven penalties in the 2nd period. At the 12:03 mark in the period, Jay Ahearn netted his 27th goal of the season from Max Smolinski and Will Margel, extending the lead to 4-0. The Tomahawks defense was holding down the fort in front of their rookie goaltender all the way up until Ben Biester broke the ice for Danbury, scoring with 3:03 remaining in the period. Gross stopped his first 16 shots faced before allowing the Hat Tricks to get on the board. With only five seconds remaining in the period, Anthony Mastromonica was called for roughing, giving the Hat Tricks carryover advantage time to start the final period as they tried clawing their way back into the game.
After the Tomahawks killed off the penalty, Mastromonica headed right back to the box, getting called for interference, followed by two more Tomahawks penalties in the early stages of the 3rd period. The Hat Tricks found the back of the net again, this time on the power play, as Nolan Barrett scored his sixth goal of the season to make it a 4-2 game in favor of the Tomahawks. Less than four minutes later, Ahearn scored his second goal of the afternoon to extend the lead back up to three for Johnstown, followed by a goal from TJ Koufis scoring his sixth of the season just 20 seconds later. Ryan Vellucci assisted on the goal, giving him his first NAHL point. With the game at a score of 6-2, Danbury pulled netminder Andrew Pichora with just under four minutes left to play, in an attempt to add on to the scoresheet. While Danbury wasn’t able to convert, Stark found the back of the empty net to secure the win for the Tomahawks on his second goal of the game. Gross stopped 32 of 34 shots, earning the big win in his debut between the pipes.
The Tomahawks are back in Johnstown at 1ST SUMMIT ARENA for one game next weekend on Saturday, May 8 against the Maryland Black Bears at 7 PM. Tickets can be purchased on Ticketmaster or through the Tomahawks front office.