After a dramatic come from behind victory to close out their series against New Jersey, the Johnstown Tomahawks are preparing for this weekend’s showdown against the Aston Rebels. The Tomahawks and Rebels will meet in games one and two of the East Division finals on Friday and Saturday at the Aston Ice Works.
The Tomahawks and Rebels met 16 times this season, with the Tomahawks going 6-9-1 in the season series. The teams split their most recent meetings in Aston March 25 and 26.
Both Johnstown and Aston swept their East Division semi-final series, with the Rebels taking three games against the Wilkes/Barre-Scranton Knights and the Tomahawks taking three against New Jersey.
The Tomahawks opened up the postseason with a pair of road wins in Middletown, N.J. In the first game, the Tomahawks jumped out to a 4-1 lead, thanks to a pair of goals from Casey Linkenheld, along with goals from Niko Coffman and Andrew Romano. The Titans pulled back within one, before Linkenheld closed out the scoring with his third goal of the game.
The Tomahawks took control of the series the following night, thanks to a 21 save performance by Andrew Lindgren in a 2-0 victory. After a scoreless first and second period, Zak Galambos got the Tomahawks on the board 25 seconds into the third period. Luke Lynch added an empty net goal to set the final at 2-0.
Johnstown completed the series on home ice last Friday night, coming back late from a one-goal deficit to win the game in overtime. Anthony Parrucci tied the game with 14 seconds remaining in regulation, before Logan Hudson scored his first career playoff goal 3:58 into the overtime period. Lindgren earned his third win of the series, stopping 22 of 23 shots.
Aston started their series with a 3-2 home ice victory over the Knights. Ryan Cusin opened the scoring for the Rebels at 5:09 of the first period. After Wilkes-Barre/Scranton tied the game, Michael Merulla regained the lead with 2:44 remaining in the opening period.
Merulla extended the lead, scoring 5:44 into the second period. The Knights got back within one in the third period, but the Rebels were able to hold on for the victory.
In the second game, the Rebels overcame an early 2-0 deficit en route to a 3-2 victory. The Rebels tied the game with goals by Kristofers Bindulis at 4:23 and Eric Carreras at 4:35. Merulla tallied the game-winning goal at 6:42, sending the Knight home with an 0-2 series deficit.
In game three, Aston scored four goals in the second period of a 6-1 victory. Andrew Bellant got the Rebels on the board at 6:03, before Frank Spellman and Austin Swingle scored to make it a 3-0 game. The Knights pulled back within two, before Bellant scored with 41 seconds left in the period to make it 4-1. Dean Balsamo and Ryan Solomon scored in the third period to set the final score.
Following this weekend’s games, the series shifts to Johnstown for game three on May 6th at 7:30 p.m. Game four (if necessary) will also take place at the War Memorial on May 7th at 7:30 p.m. Game five (if necessary) would be Sunday May 8th in Aston. The time for game five will be determined if necessary.
Tickets for game three are on sale now at the War Memorial Box Office. By calling 1-800-745-3000, or by visiting www.johnstowntomahawks.com.