A few days ago, the Rebels hosted the Johnstown Tomahawks. It was a battle between first and second place in the East Division. Going into the weekend the Tomahawks were on a 17-game win streak trying to get to the record at 24 set last year by Fairbanks. Whereas the Rebels were looking to extend their point streak to seven. Also, the Rebels were just one point ahead of the Titans, so they needed to play their best hockey of the season if they wanted to stay in the top two.
On Friday, the Tomahawks started Carter McPhail. While he is Johnstown’s best net-minder posting the fourth best goals-against-average in the league with a 1.98. His only blemish on his record came from the Rebels back on Oct. 5th when they won 4–1. Since then he has won 12 straight starts and was looking to get revenge on the Rebels once the puck was dropped. Opposite of him was Ryan Keane who has been stellar for the Rebels lately riding three-straight wins. He is also two spots behind McPhail for goals-against-average with a 2.06. Not only do the Tomahawks have some great goaltending but they also are the best power-play team in the league, so staying out of the box over the weekend was key for the Rebels if they wanted to win. Friday marked the first ever Teddy Bear Toss for the Rebels and they did not expect it to come so early. As just 1:36 into the hockey game Alex Frye scored unleashing hundreds of stuffed animals in front of a record-setting attendance of 1,153. The Tomahawks would answer though a little later right after they got done killing a penalty. Towards the end of the first period Jake Felker scored to give his team the lead again and the score would remain 2-1 after the first 20 minutes of play. Jake Felker wasted no time picking up where he left off in the first as he scored his second goal of the game just :32 seconds into the middle period. The Rebels held that lead until there was almost 13 minutes left in the third, then Sam Anzai scored to put the Rebels up by three. The Tomahawks were not able to put up any more goals as the final horn sounded, ending their remarkable win streak at 17. The Rebels extended their point-streak to seven games and evened the season series at 2–2. Ryan Keane also got his fourth straight win as a starter and what is even more impressive is that even though the Tomahawks had the best power play in the league, they went 0/5 on the man-advantage. That has not happened to them since they played New Jersey back on Nov. 16th when they went 0/6. With Alex Frye scoring on Friday he extended his point streak to nine games (9G, 6A).
The next night, the Rebels were riding a huge high as they looked to get their first sweep over the best team in the league. Both teams made changes to their goalies as it was Cooper Lukenda for the Tomahawks and Noah West for the Rebels. Lukenda came in with a record of 6–1 and on a five-game winning streak. Whereas Noah West had not lost in regulation since Oct. 13th, putting him in 13th overall for GAA with 2.47. Antonio Venuto got things going early for the Rebels as not even five minutes into the game he scored to put them up 1–0. It was not until past the half-way point in the first when Johnstown would find the back of the net to tie things up. The score would remain 1–1 until there was about 12 minutes left in the second when Alex Roy scored on a slap shot from the right point on the power play to give the Rebels the lead once again. That was also his first NAHL goal! In the late stages of the middle period the Tomahawks were able to tie the game again as they recorded their first power-play goal of the weekend. The score would remain tied 2–2 after 40 minutes of play. Although it did not stay tied for long as only a minute had passed in the third period when Johnstown scored to give them their first lead of the weekend. The Rebels tried everything they could to answer, even pulling West towards the end of the game to give them the extra attacker. Unfortunately, it would not be successful as the score read 3-2 Tomahawks after 60 minutes.
The Tomahawks were back in the win column and the Rebels received their first regulation loss since Nov. 10th. Johnstown improves to 25-5 (50PTS), whereas the Rebels are now 15-9-2-1 (33PTS). With the Rebels not gaining three or four points over the weekend they were in jeopardy of falling back down to third place had New Jersey swept Maryland. Luckily for the Rebels, the Black Bears won on Sunday by a final of 4–2. With New Jersey losing their record is now 16-12 (32PTS) and they still sit one point behind Jamestown. The Rebels are heading to Scranton, PA this weekend to face the Knights. The Rebels play Wilkes-Barre six out of their next eight games and they currently lead the season series 4–0, so there is a lot of confidence heading into this weekend to try and get a third sweep over the Knights. For ticket information call 716-484-2624.