Tomahawks Defeat Warriors, 4-2
By Suzanne Grove
FLINT, MI – Jesse Kessler and Cody Gylling each had three points as Johnstown beat Michigan, 4-2, Sunday at Perani Arena to earn its first road win of the season and move within four points of first place in the NAHL’s North Division.
After earning just one point in two games in Sault Ste. Marie over the previous two nights, the Tomahawks concluded their road trip with three points and now have points in six of their last seven games (4-1-2).
Gylling had three assists and now leads the Tomahawks in scoring with 12 points, while Kessler had one of two Johnstown power-play goals and added two assists as Michigan lost its sixth straight game.
Meanwhile, goaltender Collin Brennan, a native of Chester, NJ acquired from the Janesville Jets at the end of September, made his debut in a Tomahawks sweater and stood strong between the pipes, stopping 27 of 29 shots.
The Tomahawks were able to kill four of five penalties and capitalized on two of six power-play chances. Both power-play goals came in the second period with the Tomahawks already leading, 2-0. Kessler received a cross-ice pass from Gylling as he moved in off the left point to score at 9:27, and 5:01 later Gylling set up Jordan Watt, who beat Michigan’s Michael Pesendorfer to make it 4-0.
Johnstown’s power play is now 14-for-74 (18.9 percent), tied for seventh in the NAHL.
The Tomahawks scored their first goal at 13:51 of the first period when Gylling sent a pass off the right-wing boards to Nelson, who sent a wrist shot from just inside the right point past Pesendorfer, who was screened by Tomahawks captain Mitch Kontny. That marked the ninth time in the last 10 games that the Tomahawks scored the first goal.
Kessler, who received the secondary assist on Nelson’s goal, took a shot from the left point and Brandon Reinholz picked up the rebound, scoring at 16:06 to make it 2-0. Reinholz is one of six Tomahawks now with four goals on the season.
The Tomahawks did not relax with their four-goal advantage heading into the third period, but continued to battle as a frustrated Michigan team came out firing in the final 20 minutes. The Warriors’ Connor Lyons scored Michigan’s first goal at 4:15 of the third, ruining the shutout for Brennan.
Michigan outshot Johnstown, 14-6, in the third and made it 4-2 1:18 into a power play after Jaycob McCombs went to the box for tripping. Michigan had missed 28 consecutive power-play opportunities before Darren McCormick finally scored on the man-advantage.
The Warriors gained an extra man when they pulled their goaltender in a last-minute attempt to tie the game, but Johnstown and Brennan denied them from closing the two-goal gap.
The teams will not meet again until they play three games in three days at Perani Arena Jan. 4-6.
Johnstown now heads home, where it will prepare to face the Sault Ste. Marie Eagles at the War Memorial Arena on Friday and Saturday nights.