The Johnstown Tomahawks had a fierce competitor in Wednesday afternoon’s game at the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, Minnesota as they faced off against the defending Robertson Cup runner-up Aberdeen Wings, who are coming off their historic 2020-21 season. While the Tomahawks had a bad taste in their mouth due to their first-round playoff exit last season, Johnstown was looking to get back to their winning ways right off the bat.
The Tomahawks wasted no time at all getting things started Wednesday afternoon as the Tomahawks won the opening face off, took the puck right into the zone, and Jacob Badal (Flushing, MI) scored just 23 seconds into the game, putting the puck by Aberdeen goaltender Jed Baliotti. Aberdeen wasted no time either as Cade Neilson got the puck in the back of the net behind Tomahawks goaltender Sam Evola (Rochester, MI) with traffic in front of the net, knotting the game at 1 only 2:30 into the game. After the early excitement, both teams settled into playing the good, two-way hockey they are both known for. Johnstown had 9 shots on goal in the 1st, while Aberdeen had 7. Neither team would score throughout the remainder of the period, sending things to the 2nd period 1-all.
The Tomahawks got on the board first in the 2nd period as newly named captain, Holt Oliphant (Northbrook, IL), gets on the board for the Tomahawks, tapping the puck in behind Baliotti off David Wilcox’s (Northbrook, IL) initial shot. Aberdeen scores 25 seconds in on Badal’s tripping penalty with a goal from Nate Mann than take penalty of their own right after. Two and a half minutes later, Johnstown’s Badal is sent off for tripping. It only took Aberdeen 25 seconds into the power play to score as Nate Mann finds the back of the net. 11 seconds after scoring, Kevin MacKay is sent off for roughing to give the Tomahawks another power play opportunity, but Aberdeen killed off the penalty. At the 12:52 mark Aberdeen put the bouncing puck behind Evola with traffic in front of the net and Chase Davis was credited with giving the Wings their first lead of the game. With just 43 seconds left in the period, Aberdeen’s Kyle Gaffney was sent off for tripping to give the Tomahawks some power play time to work with starting the 3rd period.
Early in the 3rd period, Johnstown’s Holt Oliphant had the puck in front of the net, trying to go backhand on Baliotti. As the puck bounced off his glove hand and into the goal crease, the Aberdeen netminder got a hold of the bouncing puck, keeping it a one-goal game in favor of the Wings. 6:04 into the final period, Carson Galin is called for high-sticking. Right after the power play expires and the game goes back to full strength, Hugo Allais extends the lead to 2 for the Wings, making it 4-2 with 11:44 remaining in regulation. Holt Oliphant gets the puck at the dashes with the pass coming from Stephen Kyrkostas (Selden, NY) and rips the shot behind Baliotti putting the Tomahawks within one with 3:36 to go in regulation, scoring his second goal of the game. After taking advantage of their timeout, the Tomahawks pulled Evola with 53.8 remaining in regulation, giving them an extra-attacker in an attempt to tie the game up at 4 and force overtime. Despite multiple opportunities, time expired and the Aberdeen Wings held on to win by a final score of 4-3.
The Tomahawks face off against the Kenai River Brown Bears tomorrow, Thursday September 15, at 12:45 PM for their second of four games this week at the NAHL Showcase. All Showcase games will be broadcasted on HockeyTV to watch live.
(0:23) JOHNSTOWN – Jacob Badal (1) from Sean Ramsay (1), Dusty Geregach (1)
(2:30) ABERDEEN – Cade Neilson (1) from Kyle Gaffney (1)
(5:49) JOHNSTOWN – Holt Oliphant (1) from David Wilcox (1), Dusty Geregach (2)
(8:52) ABERDEEN – Nate Mann (1) from Hugo Allais (1), Kyle Gaffney (2)
(12:52) ABERDEEN – Hugo Allais (1) from Nate Mann (1), Kyle Gaffney (3)
(16:24) JOHNSTOWN – Holt Oliphant (2) from Stephen Kyrkostas (1)