Graziano Stands Tall in Debut for Weekend Sweep
The Johnstown Tomahawks would earn all four points that were up for grabs this weekend as the Hawks defeat the Black Bears in another tight, one-goal game.
The Tomahawks were looking to carry their momentum from yesterday's game into today's, even with a few changes in the lineup for Saturday night's game. Maryland's Jack Brackett got sent to the box in the early minutes of the game for high sticking Tomahawks forward Max Neill. The Tomahawks power-play unit was only out on the ice for 1:09 though, as Ryan Poorman got called for interference. The Tomahawks PK unit spent a lot of time in the defensive zone throughout the kill but would be successful in getting back to even strength with no change in the score. Moments later, Alex Gritz picked the puck off in the offensive zone and sent the puck over Maryland goaltender Hannes Kollen's right shoulder to put the Hawks on the board to get the scoring started with 7:18 remaining in the 1stperiod. Tomahawks goaltender Josh Graziano made a good impression in his first twenty minutes in a Johnstown uniform, making seven saves in the opening period, sending the Tomahawks to the 2nd period with a one-goal lead over the Black Bears.
The 2nd period was a series of interesting events, starting off with a slashing penalty to Anthony Mastromonica that the Tomahawks fans made very clear they disagreed with. About a minute and a half later, it seemed as though the Tomahawks had scored their second goal of the game. As the official signaled a goal and the horn began to blow, Maryland got ahold of the puck and both teams began heading down the ice, with the goal horn still going off in the background. Maryland's Josh Nixon and Johnstown's Holt Oliphant got tangled up as they made their way down to the opposite end of the ice, which lead to extra-curriculars after the whistle. The two would then head to the sinbin for coincidental roughing minors.
The referees gathered to discuss the situation that unfolded on the other end and determined that the puck had not crossed the line and there was no goal. Johnstown's TJ Koufis took matters into his own hands after the no-goal call, sending a rocket past Kollen, scoring his first goal as a Tomahawk, and extending the lead to two. Things continued to heat up between the two squads as the period went on. As the whistle was blown, pushing and shoving began to take place with frustrations growing between the two teams. After all, was said and done, Johnstown's Brendan Clark received a two-minute roughing penalty and Maryland's Cam Gaudette a double-minor for roughing, giving the Tomahawks a two-minute power-play opportunity. Maryland's penalty kill would be successful this time as they kill off the penalty. Not long after that, the Tomahawks PK unit got back to work as Ethan Webb was sent off for tripping. The Black Bears' power play took advantage of the opportunity as defenseman Aidan McDowell found the back of the net for the third time this season, making the score 2-1 in favor of the Tomahawks with only 1:40 remaining in the middle period. Time ticked off the clock and both teams headed to the locker rooms with the score in favor of the Tomahawks by one goal.
The 3rd period saw its fair share of penalties, two minors getting called for each team. The physical side of the game took over in the final period as more hard-hitting, aggressive play took place. Time would tick away in the 3rd period as Kollen headed to the bench for the Black Bears as they sought a late opportunity to tie things up. Miscommunication lead to Maryland getting called for too many men, forcing their goaltender back in the net and preventing them from tying the game, giving the Tomahawks the 2-1 win and weekend sweep. Graziano ended the game with 20 saves on 21 shots faced, making for an exceptional debut in net.
The saga between the two teams continues next month as the division rivals are set to face off again next Friday and Saturday, this time in Maryland. The games will be available to watch on HockeyTV along with live updates on social media throughout the games.
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