Although he hasn’t played in five weeks, Rebels goalie Trevor Micucci came up big to help backstop his team to a 9 – 2 victory and the division final series sweep over the Johnstown Tomahawks. The win moves the team onto the Robertson Cup semi-finals that begin on Thursday in Edina, Minnesota.
Micucci set the tone from the very beginning. Johnstown’s Luke Lynch and Casey Linkenheld entered the Rebels zone on a two on one. Lynch went around a Rebels defenseman and made a nice seem pass to Linkenheld. Linkenheld took a one-time a shot that Micucci slid across and made a big backdoor save with two minutes into the game.
A few minutes later Johnstown peppered Micucci with shots. This time, however, the outcome was different. After making four straight saves, Linkenheld and Lynch hooked up again. Linkenheld took a shot that bounced off Micucci’s chest and Lynch was there to pick up the rebound and shoot it pass the Rebels goalie at the 4:25 mark of the first period.
The Rebels then went on to score four unanswered goals in the opening period. First, it was Ryan Cusin – who went on to score a hat trick. Cusin intercepted a Tomahawk pass and shot it high stick side past Johnstown’s Andrew Lindgren to put the Rebels on the board at the 5:08 mark. Almost two minutes later with the Rebels pressuring the Tomahawks, Austin Swingle was credited with a goal that took a very strange bounce passed Lindgren to give the Rebels a 2 – 1 lead.
As the first period came to the midway point, Frank Spellman was down low on the far side circle. He passed it back to the middle of the point to Brennan Kapcheck. Kapcheck took a bomb of shot that Lindgren saved but couldn’t control the rebound and Dean Balsamo tucked in the rebound to give the Rebels a 3 – 1 lead. The scoring concluded when Michael Merulla and Dom Garcia set up Cusin for his second goal to give the Rebels a 4 – 1 lead. With 5:24 left in the first, Linkenheld took a snapshot that Micucci made a nice pad save to deny any Johnstown chance of scoring as the period was coming to a close.
The second period started with the Rebels crashing the net. Then Tomahawks forward Anthony Parrucci was called for roughing with almost five minutes into the period. It then finally happened. After not scoring an entire power play goal during the series, the puck went back to the point to Kapcheck who passed it to his right to Kristofers Bindulis. Bindulis took another of his patent cannon shots that beat Lindgren high glove side to give the Rebels a 5 – 1. It was the first time the Rebels had converted a power play into a goal. Micucci then made two back-to-back saves to keep the Rebels up by four heading into the third period.
With their season on the line, Johnstown came out very strong in the third attacking the Rebels zone. Then Drew Blackmun – who played an outstanding game – was called for holding putting the Tomahawks on the power play. Andrew Romano skated behind the net and found Linkenheld who took a shot that beat Micucci short side to cut the deficit by three with seventeen minutes left in the third.
You could feel the momentum changing. After facing seven straight shots, Johnstown’s Alex Alger took a back door shot that Micucci slid across and made an outstanding save off of his left pad. Bindulis picked up the rebound and skated up the ice. He found Colton McMenamin along the boards and McMenamin shot it short side to make it a 6 – 2 game at the 8:24 mark in the third.
Behind four goals with nine minutes left in the period, Johnstown pulled Lindgren for the extra attacker. The Rebels then score three empty net goals. First it was from Chris Deprez. Then it was from Austin Swingle for his second goal of the game. Finally, it was Ryan Cusin hitting the open net for his third goal of the game.
As the siren sounded to end the game, the jubilant team surrounded Micucci and hugged each other. The team now has an 11:15am flight scheduled for Wednesday to Minneapolis. Lindgren stopped 15 of 21 shots while Micucci saved 35 of 37 shots. Click here for the box score.