Ryan Cusin’s four point game, including a natural hat trick, led the Rebels to a 5 – 1 victory over the Johnstown Tomahawks. With the win and New Jersey’s loss to Fairbanks, the Rebels are one victory away of clinching their first ever East Division championship.
It started fast and furious. Looking to overcome their poor performance from Friday night’s game, the Rebels scored two goals in less than a minute apart to make everyone forget the prior night. With three minutes into the game, Kristofers Bindulis brought the puck into Johnstown’s zone and found Ryan Cusin. Cusin passed it down low to Dom Garcia, who took a short side shot that beat Tomahawks goalie Ryan Glander to put the Rebels up 1 – 0. It was Garcia’s thirteenth goal on the season.
Fifty seven seconds later Johnstown turned the puck over at center ice. Rebels speedy forward Eric Carreras picked up the loose puck, where he and Evgeny Yakovlev entered the Tomahawks zone on a two on one. Carreras skated around the defenseman and passed it to Yakovlev who one-timed it into the net passed Glander. Despite never having a chance on the goal, Johnstown’s head coach Mike Letizia decided to pull Glander in favor of Friday night’s star Andrew Lindgren with only four minutes into the game.
Four minutes later, Cusin got his first goal of the game beating Lindgren through the five hole giving the Rebels a 3 – 0 heading into the first period intermission.
With less than three minutes into the second period, Dean Balsamo was called for hooking putting the Tomahawks on the power play. It lasted all of six seconds! After Andrew Romano won the draw, the puck went back to Niko Coffman. Coffman found Ryan Burr who beat Rebels goalie Trevor Micucci cutting the Rebels lead by two.
Midway through the second period, Jerry Miettuten brought the puck up the far side boards. As he entered the offensive zone, he passed it to his right to Bindulis. Bindulis passed the puck up to the hash marks to Cusin. Cusin simply shot the puck on net that got passed Lindgren giving the Rebels a 4 – 1 lead.
Cusin put the game out of reach in the third when he scored his third consecutive goal of the game with 8:16 left with assists from Brennan Kapcheck and Michael Merulla. The goal was Cusin’s fourteenth on the season and his 49 overall point.
It was the final regular season matchup between the teams. The Rebels won 10 out of the sixteen games played. Glander had one save on three shots, and Lindgren made 16 saves on 19 shots. Micucci stopped 22 of 23 shots. Click here for the box score.
The regular season will conclude next weekend when the Rebels play a home-and-home series against the Titans. If the Rebels win one game, they will win the first ever East Division championship.