Andrew Bellant had two points and goaltender Ryan Keane stopped 15 shots to lead the Rebels to a 3 – 1 victory over the visiting Johnstown Tomahawks. It was the Rebels first ever regular season home game at the Class of 1923 Arena at the University of Pennsylvania.
The Rebels opened the night in class when Philadelphia Flyers legend Bernie Parent dropped the ceremonial first puck. Prior to the game Parent mingled with all the fans and showed he is as great as person off the ice as when he was on it, telling stories of his glory days and reminiscing about the ’23 arena since it was there the Flyers practiced in the team’s glory years.
The defending NAHL East Division champions looked to get off to a quick start in their new building and Ryan Patrick did it for them. Auggie Moore brought the puck up along the far side boards into the Johnstown zone. He head manned the puck to Patrick who passed it down low back to Moore in the corner. Moore send a wraparound pass to Andrew Bellant at the near side faceoff circle. Bellant sent it back to Justin Smith at the point. Looking to take shot, Smith walked the blueline and passed the puck over to Diarmad DiMurro. DiMurro made nice head fake and sent a pass to Patrick in the high slot and the returning Rebel took a wrist shot that beat Johnstown goalie Vinnie Purpura long side to give the home team a 1 – 0 lead with just 4:25 into the opening period.
Although Johnstown entered the game with a losing record, head coach Mike Letizia has his team playing sound defense. The Rebels had their chances to score more but Purpura needed to make some key saves to key his teammates in the game.
With time winding down in the first, Roman Kraemer was able to tie the game at one. David Schmidling won the draw deep inside the Rebels near side faceoff circle. The puck went into the corner where it was picked up by Schmidling’s brother Ben who passed it down low to Kraemer. Kraemer tried a wraparound that was initially saved by Keane but the rebound came out quickly back to Kraemer who put the puck in the back of the net with 2:54 remaining in the opening period.
With both goaltenders having to make key saves to keep their team in it, the game entered the third period still tied. Then with nine minutes remaining in the game, Ben Schmidling was called for high sticking to put the Rebels on the powerplay. Looking to set up the play, Moore took a quick wrist shot from the near side faceoff circle that Purpura had to make a nice glove save but the puck bounced out of it. The puck skirted into the corner to Bellant, who then passed the puck back to the point to Carter Woolley. Woolley sent it back to Bellant who was at the faceoff dot. Bellant made a nice cross-ice back back to Carson Moniz. Moniz took a shot that beat Purpura long side to put the Rebels up 2 – 1 with 8:03 left in the game.
Looking to tie the game, Johnstown pulled Purpura for the extra attacker. Bellant was able to intercept an errant Johnstown pass at center ice and cross over the blueline and sailed the puck into the empty net to give the Rebels a 3 – 1 win.
Keane turned aside 15 of the 16 shots he faced while Purpura stopped 29 of 31 shots. Click here for the box score.
The two teams will be back at it tonight at the Class of 1923 Arena. Game time is 6:20pm.