Johnstown Tomahawks vs. Amarillo Bulls
September 18, 2013
9:15 p.m. (EST)
Schwans Super Rink, Blaine, MN
By Ed Sheets
Tonight the Johnstown Tomahawks take on the defending Robertson Cup champion Amarillo Bulls in their first game of the 2013 NAHL showcase. This will be the first meeting between the two teams and the lone regular season meeting between them this season.
This will be the second trip to the NAHL showcase for Johnstown, who went 1-2-1 in its first trip to the Schwans Super Rink last season. The Tomahawks fell to Brookings 4-2 in their showcase opener last season, before picking up the first win in team history, a 6-5 shootout victory over Kenai River, the following night. They fell to Austin 5-4 in overtime, before finishing the showcase with a 5-3 loss to Corpus Christi.
The Bulls begin their fourth season with the trip to Minnesota. The Bulls went 2-1-1 at the showcase last season, defeating Austin and Springfield, while falling to Wenatchee and Port Huron. Amarillo is 8-2-2 all time at the NAHL Showcase.
Last weekend the Tomahawks opened the season with a pair of losses to the Port Huron Fighting Falcons at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena. On Saturday night, the Tomahawks opened with fireworks, an appearance by Bill Guerin and the second annual HockeyFest. Once the puck dropped, Port Huron struck first with a goal by Austin Romzek at 7:32 of the first period. Zach Wallace got the Tomahawks on the board just over a minute later, scoring at 8:43. The assists went to Tyler Basham and Jaycob McCombs. Port Huron got the game winner on Conner Enciso’s goal at 13:01 of the second period, before setting the final of 3-1 on Mitch Maloney empty-net goal with seven seconds remaining in the game.
Sunday’s game was defined by physical play and penalties. The Tomahawks and Fighting Falcons combined for 119 penalty minutes on 32 offenses, including three ejections and seven fighting majors. Alex Archibald got Port Huron on the board first scoring at 6:14 of the first period. The score would remain the same until Johnstown’s Collin Finkhouse tied the game at 4:28 of the second period. Port Huron went on to score four unanswered goals to head home with a 5-1 victory and the weekend sweep.
Alex Okicki took both losses on the weekend, but was impressive in net, making some key saves. He stopped 19 of 21 shots on Saturday night and 29 of 34 shots on Saturday night.
Following tonight’s game, the Tomahawks will take on the Topeka Roadrunners tomorrow afternoon at 5:30 p.m. (EST). They will finish up with games against the Aberdeen Wings and Bismarck Bobcats to close out the showcase.
Amarillo begins its defense of the Robertson Cup tonight against the Tomahawks. Last season Amarillo went 46-7-7 overall and won the south division with a league best 99 points. The Bulls won their first round series against Corpus Christi three games to one before sweeping Texas in the South Division Final. They would pick up 2-1 victories over both Jamestown and Bismarck during the first two days of the tournament, before falling to Wenatchee 7-0 on day three. The teams would meet again the following night with Amarillo taking the game and the Robertson Cup with a 5-0 win.
The Bulls return their leading scorer Mike Davis, who led the team with 28 goals and 59 points (28-31-59). While Davis returns, Amarillo will have to replace twelve players, including former Tomahawk Gage Christianson and four of their top five leading scorers from last season. Amarillo also returns both goaltenders from last season, including Paul Berrafato, who was 33-3-5 with a league leading 1.66 goals against average.
Following tonight’s game, Amarillo will take on Bismarck tomorrow at 9:15 p.m. (EST). They will close out the showcase with games against Kenai River and Janesville.
- The Tomahawks had the highest two-game attendance (5,048) in the league last weekend.
- With his assist on Saturday night, Jaycob McCombs now has four points (3-1-4) in seven regular-season games against Port Huron.
- Amarillo was second in the league last season with 13 shorthanded goals scored.
- The Tomahawks will see some familiar faces as former Jamestown Ironmen Brett Szajner and former Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings Brendan Vetter and Kyle Gattelaro are playing for Amarillo this season.