To quote Rebels head coach Joe Coombs: “It was bad. It was really bad” to describe the way the Rebels played during the first period of last night’s game against the Johnstown Tomahawks. However, goaltender Darion Hanson made several key saves in the opening period (and throughout the contest) to help the Rebels overcome a lackluster start to win 5 – 1. With the Rebels win and New Jersey’s lost, the Rebels are now two points behind the Titans and three points ahead of the Tomahawks in the East Division standings.
Maybe it was because the bus was late arriving to IceWorks. For whatever the reason, the Rebels didn’t start well last night. Despite outshooting the home team in the first period, the Rebels were shaky. With 9:56 left, Kristofers Bindulis was called for holding. It didn’t take long for the Tomahawks to capitalize on it. Johnstown won the draw in the Rebels zone. Anthony Parrucci passed the puck to his left to Brendan Jaquay. Jaquay made a pass down low to an open Dante Suffredini who hit a backdoor, one-timer to put it past Hanson to give the home team a 1 – 0 lead. Hanson was tested early and came up with some big stops to limit the damage going into the second.
With Johnstown winning in the second, the Rebels began to turn it around. It started when Dean Balsamo hit Ryan Cusin with a pass but Tomahawks goalie Ryan Glander made a nice save on Cusin. Then you could see the wheels start to churn. After the ensuing face off and the Tomahawks breaking out of the zone, Eric Carreras intercepted a pass and skated in on Glander. Glander made the initial save but Carreras picked up his own rebound and put it past Glander to tie the game at one.
Less than four minutes later, defenseman Jerry Miettuten fed Cusin the puck. Cusin took a nice shot and beat Glander putting the Rebels up for good. The Rebels continued to pressure the Tomahawks zone. With 3:24 left in the period, Carreras threw the puck towards the net and Balsamo had a nice redirect through Glander’s five hole giving the Rebels a 3 – 1 lead.
With 3:05 left in the second, Johnstown’s Filips Buncis was called for interference. With time running down in the power play, Bindulis took a shot from the point and blew it by Glander high glove side giving the Rebels a 4 – 1 lead heading into the third period.
Johnstown replaced Glander with Andrew Lindgren to start the final period. After making some tough saves in the period, Hanson would need to come up big again. First, it was Mason Van Tuyl called for holding. Then thirty seconds later Bindulis was called for tripping putting the Tomahawks on a five-on-three power play. Hanson made a couple of big stops but nothing compared to the one he made on Luke Lynch. With the puck passed out front to an open Lynch, Lynch one timed it and Hanson made a great glove save to preserve the lead.
The Rebels finished the game when Dom Garcia made some nifty moves to enter the Johnstown zone. He passed it down low to Michael Merulla. Merulla fed the puck back to the point to an open Gvido Jansons who took a cannon of a shot and beat Lindgren giving the Rebels the 5 – 1 win.
Hanson had 28 saves on 29 shots. The two teams are back at it tonight at the War Memorial. Click here for the box score.