December 11, 2017

Five Observations From WB/Scranton Series (December 8-9, 2017)

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Okay. Without further ado, here's Five Observations from Johnstown Tomahawks vs Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Series (December 8-9, 2017.

5. Horrible Call

On Friday night, the Tomahawks didn't look their sharpest. Tomahawks head coach, Mike Letizia, in the Tribune-Democrat even stated that he didn't feel the team played up to their caliber.

With that said, the Tomahawks still battled with the Knights and found themselves minutes away from overtime, tied at one goal each. Then, this happened:

Click to play

Just seconds after crossing the blueline, Knights' defensman, Shay Donovan, ripped a shot over Johnstown's netminder, Kade Phipps, to give the Knights a 2-1 lead, which would be the eventual game-winner.

What could have been a great weekend for the Tomahawks turned into just a good weekend, as they split the series with the Knights.

If not for that terrible call of no-offsides, the Tomahawks would have probably at least sent the game into overtime, picking up a point. With the terrible start the Tomahawks had to start the season, 2-12-0, every point matters now that we're officially halfway through the regular season, climbing for that last playoff spot.

To miss a call, a call like the one on Friday night, is just unacceptable.

But, what's really going to come of it?

The loss is already official. The linesman has already officiated another game.

All I hope for is that the league addresses this terrible call, and makes sure that this type of thing doesn't happen again. Though, if you remember, this isn't the first time the Knights got away with a non-whistled play that lead directly to a goal. Back in November this wasn't called a high-stick:

Seconds later, that same Knight's player would score on the breakaway.

Interesting note: Is the league testing out the four-man official system? Looking at boxscores from other games in our division, as I do to keep tabs on everything, I've noticed a lot of the games are featuring two referees. Oddly enough, the games in Johnstown, haven't. Make out of that what you'd like.

4. Solid In Net

The Tomahawks have been looking for that steady number one netminder all season long, and the way that new addition, Kade Phipps, has been playing, they might have found it.

After officially joining the team before last weekend's games, Phipps has started in net for Johnstown in four straight games. In those four games he has a record of 3-1-0 (that only loss coming on Friday night), a save percentage of .951, and one shutout.

Impressive is an understatement.

Both Jack Leavy and Britt League, while having played decently and having some games where they've each shinned, neither goalie, to this point, has shown consistency like Phipps has in his first four games with the team.

Leavy has appeared in six games with Johnstown and holds a record of 2-3-0, with a save percentage of .896.

In today's game, anything below .900 is troubling and even right at .900 it isn't as good as team would like it to be in this modern area of the game.

In the NAHL top 20 goalie save percentages of goalies who've at least played 10 games, number 20 ranked goalie, Josh Benson, from Fairbanks, has a .911 save percentage in 16 games. From there it only goes up.

Leavy is currently not ranked because he hasn't appeared in at least ten games this season.

Last season, while with Aston, Leavy had a save percentage of .921 in 20 games.

In his six games with the Tomahawks, Leavy has had three games in which he's allowed two goals or fewer. In his other three games he's allowed, 4, 5, and 6 goals.

For Britt League, he holds a record of 2-5-2 with the team's other shutout and a current save percentage of .889.

Six of the 11 games he's appeared in he's allowed three goals or less. In the other five he's given up between 4-6 goals.

League currently ranks 37th in the league in goalie save percentage.

I think it would be safe to say that Phipps will probably continue to start games for Johnstown until he has a bad one, or gets tired. With two games this upcoming weekend, then a week off before the New Year's Eve weekend pair of games, Phipps could be in net till the calendar turns to 2018.

3. Solensky Hot Streak Ends

This weekend saw Samuel Solensky's hot point streak end on Saturday night.

The night prior, it was Solensky's ninth goal of the season, only 1:59 into the game, that gave the Tomahawks their only goal of the entire game. With the point, it extended his scoring streak to eight games.

On Saturday, Solensky was held off the score sheet. With Samuel's talent level, I have no doubt he'll start a new streak this upcoming weekend.

In the eight games which his streak lasted, Solensky had 12 points (four goals, eight assists) and one fight.

2. Ott Continues His Hot Streak

While Solensky's scoring streak might have ended, his linemate, Donovan Ott's continued through the weekend and has now reached seven games.

On Friday night, he was given an assist on Solensky's goal, after he had received a pass from Davidson, which launch him and Solensky on a 2-1 offensive rush.

The following night, Ott scored the Tomahawks second goal (the insurance marker) to help the Hawks defeat the Knights, 2-0.

In those seven games, Ott has recorded 11 points (seven goals, four assists) including one hat-trick.

Last season, Ott averaged a point a game scoring 57 points in 57 games and he's continued that trend this year, scoring 14 points in 14 games.

1. Penalty Kill Up, Power Play Down

This weekend the Tomhawks did not give up a power play goal as they were able to go 10-for-10 on the PK.

The Knights' penalty kill unfortunately was just as good as the Tomahawks went 0-for-13 on the power play, which included a couple 5-on-3 opportunities.

If the Tomahawks could have scored a few power play goals this weekend, they wouldn't have had any troubles sweeping the Knights.

Not scoring on 13 power play oppertunites has dropped Johnstown's power play to 16th in the league (19.4%).

Killing off all 10 penalties they took during the weekend has boosted the Hawks overall penalty kill to 19th (74.2%).

Last weekend vs the Titans, Johnstown had managed to go 6-for-17 on the power play, though New Jersey's penalty kill is ranked 20th in the league (74.1%) out of 23 teams.

Quick Mentions

-- The NAHL named Kade Phipps, East Division Player of the Week. The second star of the week was another Tomahawks' player, Donovan Ott. Read about it here.

--Johnstown now holds an overall record of 9-19-1-1 at the halfway mark of their season (30 games). In their last ten games they hold a record of 5-4-0-1 which is 2nd best currently in the division. Both Philadelphia and WB/Scranton are 6-4-0-0 in their last ten.

-- Something that the Tomahawks didn't have at the start of the season was a well balanced lineup. As the season has moved along, with a few roster changes, the dynamics of the team has changed for the better. You're seeing a more well-rounded lineup with players fitting into roles nicely. Each line has become pretty well balanced and there's not as many "same style" of players as there was when the season started.

The top two lines have shown good scoring ablites, while the bottom two lines have shown they can contibute with some scoring, but more importantly, an ablitly to grind and play good defense.

-- Working off the last thought, I'd like to mention Tomahawks defensman, Carter Dwyer, who's been playing some solid defense for the Tomahawks as of late.

Dwyer has worked himself out of a -11 hole, which at one point was one of the team's worst +/- ratings. He's now currently only a -1 (which is tied for 2nd best on team) in a span of ten games, which included six games in a row where he was a +1 or better.

The Tomahawks have started scoring more consistently, have gotten better goaltending, and with players like Dwyer improving their game, it's no wonder the Tomahawks are rebounding from a bad start of the season.

-- Johnstown is currently ranked 5th in the league when it come to attendance, but the troubling number is that they're currently averaging 1,971 fans per game. This is the lowest attendance has been since Johnstown has entered the league.

Hopefully this is a trend that will turn around as the team still has 16 home games left on the schedule. The poor start is definitely a factor for the lower number thus far.

Last year the Tomahawks averaged 2,219.

East Division Standings

Below is a look at the current standings for the East Division. The Tomahawks still ten points behind the Titans for the last playoff spot in the division.

The Tomahawks travel this weekend to face the Rebels on Friday and Saturday.

The Titans will play Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday, and then travel to play Northeast Saturday and Sunday.

Wilkes-Barre's only game this week is verse the Titans.

TheTomablog's Three-Stars-of-the-Weekend

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