February 5, 2013

Week in Review (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly)

Article by: Nathan Kohan
Photo by: Tami Knopsnyder

1/31/2013 Port Huron 2 vs Johnstown 3 F Boxscore
2/01/2013 Port Huron 5 vs Johnstown 4 F Boxscore
2/02/2013 Soo 5 vs Johnstown 4 F Boxscore

This past weekend the Port Huron Fighting Falcons and the Soo Eagles paid a visit to the historic Cambria County War Memorial. Both of these teams are opponents the Tomahawks don’t seem to like very much and always have highly spirited contests against. Let’s take a quick look at what went right, wrong, and what left me saying “what just happened”.

The Good

First off, let’s start with what went well for the ‘Hawks. Scoring has been a bit of an issue in recent weeks but this weekend the ‘Hawks seemed to be clicking like it was October. Thursday’s game saw the usual goal scorers light the lamp but also saw the fiery spark plug forward JB Baker deposit one in the cage. It’s nice to see everyone chipping in some offense in the later months of the season.

The ‘Hawks scored a total of 11 goals over the three game weekend which should have been enough to notch three victories, but we will deal with why it wasn’t a bit later.

Johnstown’s physical play made the visiting defensemen think twice when going to play the puck in the corners, which coming from a Jason Spence coached team is what Johnstown fans come to expect. Spence has very clearly made hard hitting a center piece of this NAHL squad.  

The Bad

When a hockey team scores eight goals in two games you would think it would be enough to get two victories, but this was not the case in the opening days of February.

Great goaltending is usually the norm for the Tomahawks but this weekend you could call the play between the pipes “suspect”. The ‘Hawks big net minder Chris Truehl has been outstanding this season with a save percentage well into the .90’s but found himself in some trouble two out of three games. Truehl Made some huge “how did he do that” type saves but then let by some very soft goals.  A goal that stands out in my mind is the shot that got him pulled in Friday night’s contest. It was a weak shot from a bad angle that seemed to squeak under his glove.

I can’t pin all of the goals given up on the goaltender as there were some defensive plays that were mismanaged and put Truehl in tough situations. Such as a two on one that found our defenseman taking the shooter and leaving the pass wide open in the slot.    

The Ugly

The ugly section of this post will focus on two subjects, the power play and two blown leads. By looking at the power play numbers you might say “it wasn’t so bad” but if you look closer you can see it was a disaster. The weekend saw a five minute power play go by without a goal being scored and a chance to tie Friday’s game blown by taking a penalty of our own. The power play seems to have next to no movement and even less shooting. If there is one thing that the Johnstown faithful hate more than anything it's the so called “playing” with the puck on the man advantage. The ‘Hawks simply need more pucks on net.  The power play in the early part of the season had me in awe of the quick passes and precision shots ending up in the cage. On the power play is where you can bury teams like Soo and gain important points in the standings. This is an area where the ‘Hawks must improve to make a statement in the playoffs.

Finally we come to the most glaring problem of the weekend and that is blowing leads. Both loses on the weekend had the ‘Hawks up by two in the second frame, then the team seemed to hit a wall. They couldn’t get anything going offensively and played primarily in their own end. This led to both opponents scoring four straight goals. Johnstown would put up one more tally in each game but it would be too little too late. When teams give you a two goal lead you should ride it to victory, instead the Tomahawks lose both games. This could have been a six point weekend but instead it’s a two point disappointment.

The Tomahawks now look forward to the Janesville Jets this coming weekend where I think they will come out on the better side of things.

Notes:----Tomahawks forward Andrew McDonald has gone pointless in his last 7 games.
Port Huron is only 6 points behind the Tomahawks for fourth place in the NAHL’s North division.


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