ICE DOGS (11-15-3) at TOMAHAWKS (19-7-2)
Location: Cambria County War Memorial | Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Faceoff: Tonight (7:30 p.m.), Saturday (6:00 p.m.)
THE JOHNSTOWN TOMAHAWKS
The Johnstown Tomahawks are back in action this weekend after two weekend off for the holiday break. Prior to going home for the holidays, the team traveled to Northeastern Pennsylvania for a weekend showdown against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights.
Johnstown came into the contests minus forward Donovan Ott, who earned a try-out with the Tri-City Storm of the United States Hockey League. However, the Hawks battled and added to their winning ways.
Now the focus shifts to the War Memorial where this weekend, the team kicks off a long homestand with the visiting Fairbanks Ice Dogs. Johnstown has earned a 1-0-1 record against Fairbanks this season after taking three out of a possible four points during a visit to Big Dipper Ice Arena in late September/early October.
After two consecutive home sweeps of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Northeast, the Tomahawks hit the pavement to visit the Knights at Revolution Ice Centre for a two-game set before the holiday break on December 10-11.
The Tomahawks were riding a four-game winning streak and looked to improve that trend against the Knights.
Saturday night, the Hawks fell behind early in the first period when Mike Gelatt fired home a power-play goal at 9:37 of the first period. Dorian Dawson and Khristian Acosta registered the assists on Gelatt’s eighth of the year.
A little under two minutes later, Johnstown knotted the game at 1-1. Christopher Trouba fired a point shot that deflected off newcomer Roman Kraemer and behind Knights netminder Grant Valentine for the goal. Kraemer, an affiliate player, scored his first goal in his first game. Andy Iehle picked up the secondary assist.
Johnstown would not be done finding the back of the cage in the first period.
Back from Youngstown, forward Dalton Hunter fired a heavy wrister behind Valentine at the 17:40 mark. Hunter’s 18th of the season was assisted by Filips Buncis.
The Knights eventually would tie the game at 14:20 of the third period when Sam Antonitsch received a bounce off the halfwall and back-handed a puck past Drew Hotte. Joey Kubachka and Curtis Carlson placed the assists.
In the 3-on-3 overtime period, Johnstown wasted little time in ending the game at 3-2 with a Nick Bruce goal 56 seconds into the frame. Buncis picked up his 22nd helper on the play. Daniil Bokun also helped on the goal.
Sunday, Johnstown and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton played in a matinee that saw the Tomahawks squeak past with a 1-0 victory.
The lone goal was scored by Tomahawks defenseman Edward Hirka, his first, and was assisted by Tommy Horn and Logan Stork.
FAIRBANKS ICE DOGS
After enduring an 11-game winless streak, the Fairbanks Ice Dogs responded with a 4-1-0 record in their past five games.
The Ice Dogs and Northeast Generals battled during a three-game series December 15-17. Fairbanks scored a total of 20 goals on the weekend including a 10-spot on December 15’s 10-3 win against the Generals.
Leading the way in scoring is Swedish forward Hampus Eriksson, who has scored six goals and added 15 assists in 28 games. Hunter Wendt and Aaron McPheters are tied for second in scoring with 18 points.