(After you read this post make sure you read the Tomahawks vs. Jr. Blues Weekend Preview for even more news and notes for this weekends pair of games.)
What You Need To Know About the Springfield Jr. Blues
Goals: Patrick Curry – 6 goals
Assists: Mike Severson – 7 assists, Davis Dekorte – 7 assists
Points: Patrick Curry – 12 points
PIMS: Ji Young-Li – 24 PIMS
+/-: Mike Severson -- +3
Goalies: Record GAA SV%
Sandro Aeschlimann: 4-3-0 2.80 .910
Stefanos Lekkas: 5-3-1 2.26 .929
Tony Zasowski- Head Coach and General Manager
Tom Lennox- Assistant Coach
Scouting the Jr. Blues:
Tony Zasowski’s team arrives in Johnstown with second place implications on the line Friday and Saturday.
I expect to see a pugnacious team taking the ice during this two-game series, and Johnstown should be on their toes for six periods.
The Jr. Blues bring team with speed. They are probably one of the fastest teams in the North American Hockey League, and they use it to their advantage every night.
For those attending the games this weekend, keep a keen eye on how Johnstown back checks. If the Tomahawk defensemen are slow to react to the breakouts of Springfield, it could mean the red light with be turned on.
Among the players to watch for Springfield, I will be watching is Trevor Stone, a 1996 birth year forward from Illinois.
I like the way Stone plays the game. He keeps it simple and uses his speed effectively.
Don’t let his numbers fool you. His 17 points in 51 games last season can be deceiving because I thought he was a key player for Springfield down the stretch.
Stone currently has five goals and four assists in 14 games for the Jr. Blues and is currently on a three-game point streak.
Expect Springfield to play with an edge this weekend since four points and second place are on the line.
Another player fans should watch is Alex Baskakov, a defenseman from Ufa, Russia.
Baskakov, in my opinion, is the Jr. Blues best defenseman.
Baskakov reminds me of Casey Nelson. He puts pucks on net a lot and is a very smooth skater.
He skates with confidence and makes few mistakes. Honestly, Johnstown is missing Nelson’s offense from the back end.
Baskakov was a great find by Springfield and could be an effective player at the next level.
Bodies will be bruised this weekend and the Cambria County War Memorial should be rocking throughout the games.
KEYS TO VICTORY FOR JOHNSTOWN:
- Score the First Goal:
ü Scoring first gets the crowd into it and more importantly puts you ahead. Johnstown needs to get the first goal, which they failed to do against Port Huron last weekend.
- Put Pucks on Net
ü Shots, Shots, Shots. The Tomahawks cannot make the perfect play every time. Against a team that does not give up a lot of goals, putting plenty of rubber on net should be a top priority for the Tomahawks.
- Establish a Fore-check
ü Make Springfield play in their own zone. The Tomahawks have the speed necessary to win races for pucks and win battles along the boards. Defenseman should pinch when necessary to keep the pressure on Springfield. Good things will come if a great fore-check is established.
- Stay Disciplined
ü Johnstown has a well-documented history thus far of making frequent trips to the penalty box. This weekend the Tomahawks can ill afford to take penalties against the NAHL’s second-best power play.
KEYS TO VICTORY FOR SPRINGFIELD:
- Draw Penalties
ü Getting under Johnstown’s skin will get them into penalty trouble. Springfield has to capitalize on the power play and prevent Johnstown from gaining momentum for a penalty kill.
- Take the Crowd Out of It
ü We all know how raucous and venomous the Tomahawks faithful can be, especially when things are not going Johnstown’s way. Scoring the first goal or controlling most of the play will hinder the crowd’s enthusiasm. However, when Johnstown is on, the crowd is on as well.
- Play the Body
ü With the number of bruisers the Tomahawks have, Springfield needs to counter each time with hit after hit. Nothing should be easy for either team. Make them pay for taking it into your zone. Lean into them and let them know you’re there. Bodies should be bruised after the weekend.
It is another weekend with hockey at the War Memorial. Now is the time for Johnstown to earn points and climb in the standings.
After a disappointing weekend against the Fighting Falcons, the Tomahawks should come out with fire and passion, like a Jason Spence coached team should.
Springfield has a lot to prove as well. They were a very young team last season, but know have more experience and firepower to compete in the North Division.
I think both games are going to be hard-fought and very entertaining.
That being said, I think it will be a split with Johnstown picking up 3 points on the weekend.