This past weekend the Rebels hosted the Johnstown Tomahawks for the final two regular season games. For both teams neither game had much meaning to it as they both were more focused on the post-season. The biggest rivalry in the East Division was coming to a close for the regular season but it could very well be a second-round matchup. The Rebels entered this weekend with a 3-4-2-1 record against the best team in the league. They had only won one of the last six meetings and the past three games between these two teams was decided in overtime. The last time the Rebels beat the ‘Hawks in regulation was on Dec. 7th which snapped Johnstown’s 17-game win streak.
The first game started off slow as there was no scoring in the 1st period. It took over 16 minutes in the middle frame for someone to get on the board and that someone was Niki Jasko (14). Jasko scored an amazing goal after protecting the puck around a defenseman and followed that up by beating netminder Carter McPhail. In the 3rd period, Johnstown came out aggressive by scoring 7:43 into the period. With a tie game and over half way through the final period of regulation, Johnstown added another one to their tally after scoring on the power play. They would go on to put another goal up on the board before the end of the game. With the Rebels down by a pair and time winding down they pulled Noah West to get the extra attacker out on the ice. There was just :08 seconds left in the game when the Tomahawks took a penalty giving Jamestown a 6-on-4 power play. After winning the offensive zone draw Hunter Johannes (15) found the puck and took a quick shot on net to score a power-play goal with one second left on the clock. The horn would then sound after they dropped the puck at center ice, giving the Tomahawks a 3-2 victory and their 7th-straight game with at least a point against the Rebels. That was the first regulation loss when leading after the second period the Rebels have received all season. Also, with their victory Johnstown secured their first ever regular season title with a record of 47-8-3-1 (98pts) and had their sights set on becoming just the 3rd team in the last 15 years to hit 100 points in a NAHL season.
The Rebels on the other hand were determined to not let that happen as less than 24 hours later they were back on the ice for their final regular season game. Johnstown swapped their goalies and started Cooper Lukenda whereas Jamestown kept West in between the pipes. This time around Jamestown came out with fire under their legs as they jumped out to an early lead thanks to Hunter Johannes (16) scoring 1:03 into the opening frame. They were able to keep that momentum going throughout the period which resulted in another goal. This time it came from the captain, Alex Frye (30), who was able to get some puck luck after his shot deflected off the skate of a Tomahawk player. Jamestown headed into the first intermission up 2-0. It took awhile for either team to score in the middle period, but it was the good guys that were able to get on the score sheet. Caleb Price scored his fourth goal of the season after him and James Crossman went up on the rush and connected for a goal, now making their lead 3-0. Unfortunately, Noah West’s hopes at his fourth shutout of the season was erased after the ‘Hawks scored with 0.1 left in the 2nd period. West would not let that one goal get to him as he made remarkable saves in the final period of regulation to end his team’s regular season with a 3-1 win.
Seth Bergeron played in his 100th NAHL regular season game this past Saturday. Also, three Rebels’ players became ironmen after playing in all 60 regular season games (Alex Roy, Noah Finstrom, Alex Frye). It was also West’s first win against Johnstown this season. That loss also put Lukenda on a three-game losing streak. It was very important that the Rebels win their final regular season game because they now have momentum and confidence heading into this weekend when they face the New Jersey Titans in the 1st round of playoffs. Both games will be held at the Northwest Arena and puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. For ticket information call 716-484-2624 and make sure to follow us on social media.
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