Facing elimination in their best-of-five East Division Finals series, the Johnstown Tomahawks return home to take on the Aston Rebels. The Rebels opened the series with a pair of wins last weekend.
In the first game last Friday night, the Rebels took an early lead, as Eric Carreras scored at 1:39 of the first period. They extended the lead later in the period, as Andrew Bellant tallied his third goal of the postseason at 15:10.
The Tomahawks responded just over a minute later, as Ryan Burr scored a power-play goal at 16:43. Casey Linkenheld and Niko Coffman provided the assists on the goal.
Aston regained the two goal advantage late in the period, as Kristofers Bindulis scored at 18:53. Dean Balsamo made it a 4-1 game, scoring at 5:57 of the second period.
Johnstown pulled back within two goals, as Brendan Jaquay tallied his first goal of the postseason at 18:01 of the third period. Niko Coffman and Drew Doyon provided the assists.
Bellant scored on the empty net with 30 seconds left in regulation to set the final at 5-2. Darion Hanson stopped 18 of 20 shots in the victorty, while Andrew Lindgren stopped 15 of 19 shots in the loss.
In the second game, Bellant opened the scoring for Aston at 12:39 of the first period. Frank Spellman and Balsamo picked up the assists on the goal.
Johnstown responded less than three minutes later, as Zak Galambos scored at 15:07. Doyon provided the assist on the second goal of the postseason for Galambos.
The Tomahawks took their first lead of the series in the second period, as Anthony Parrucci scored at 14:54. Filips Buncis provided the assist on the goal.
Just over two minutes into the third period, Drew Blackmun tied the game for the Rebels. Mason Van Tuyl and Kristofers Bindulis earned the assists on the goal.
Parrucci regained the lead with his second goal of the game at the six minute mark. Buncis and Galambos recorded the assists.
The Rebels tied the game at three, as Ryan Cusin scored at 12:22. Michael Merulla eanred the assist on the goal. The game eventually went to overtime, where Carreras tallied the game-winner at 3:41.
Hanson earned his second win of the season, stopping 18 of 21 shots. Lindgren suffered the loss, stopping 24 of 28 shots.
Stats & Notes
Home Sweet Home: The Tomahawks return home to the friendly confines of the Cambria County War Memorial, where they have won their last three games. Johnstown closed out the regular season with a weekend sweep of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, before beating New Jersey to close out the first round of the postseason.
Linkenheld Leads The Way: Tomahawks forward Casey Linkenheld leads the team with five postseason points, including three goals. Linkenheld needs one point to tie the Tomahawks all-time postseason points record (6) set by Brandon Reinholz.
Hanson Strong In Net: Aston goaltender Darion Hanson has been strong in net this postseason, starting all five games for the Rebels. The East Bethal, Minn. native is 5-0 with a 1.98 GAA and a .917 save percentage.
Survive and Advance: The Tomahawks will look to reverse a trend this weekend, as they look for their first victory in a postseason elimination on home ice. Johnstown lost its previous two against the Port Huron Fighting Falcons, and is 1-2 all-time in postseason elimination games.
Outshooting and Outscoring Success: Johnstown is 3-0 when outshooting its opponent this postseason. Johnstown has also outscored its opponents 10-7 in the second and third periods.