As the final horn sounded, Johnstown Tomahawks defenseman Casey Nelson slowly glided toward the boards with his elbows on his knees and a look of disbelief on his face. A few minutes earlier, goalie Collin Brennan made a similar skate over to the opposite side of the ice at Cambria County War Memorial Arena in disgust.
Those were visible signs of a frustrated hockey team that played well in stretches during a weekend series against the Springfield Jr. Blues, but not well enough to salvage a point.
For the second consecutive day, Johnstown let a third-period lead slip away. On Sunday afternoon, Springfield erased a two-goal deficit with a four-goal outburst in the third period for a 6-4 victory in front of 1,045.
“It seems like some bounces just didn’t go our way. The third period is usually our period,” Tomahawks coach Jason Spence said. “We played well. We were doing a lot of the right things. We supported each other. We used our speed to our advantage.”
The Tomahawks (7-6-6, 20 points) did just about everything except win.
“It’s pretty frustrating because we felt like we were dominating at times and we couldn’t earn a single point,” said Connor Wright, who put together an interesting 60 minutes. “A lot of bounces just didn’t go our way. It felt like it came down to a bunch of bad bounces.”
Those bounces went the Tomahawks’ way during a dominating second period, and Wright unexpectedly played a big role.
Wright received a game misconduct penalty at the 19:21 mark of the first period.
“They were trying to get me for a kick,” Wright said.
Spence added, “The linesman thought (Wright) kicked him in the head, but the ref (Jonathan Sitarski) saw it better. When (Wright) jumped over, the skate caught the guy in the helmet.”
So Wright returned for the second period and scored his first two goals of the season, the latter an unassisted tally at the 19:09 mark to give the Tomahawks a 4-2 lead.
“It was a weird situation, but I was happy to get back out there and help out the team,” Wright said. “It felt pretty good to get my first two goals of the season.”
That feeling was short-lived for Wright and the Tomahawks.
Springfield (8-8-2, 18 points) got things going midway through the third period.
Devin Mitchell worked the puck behind the net and dished to Mike Severson, who beat Tomahawks goalie Collin Brennan and trimmed the Jr. Blues’ deficit to 4-3. Mitchell then tied the game at 4 at the 12:08 mark. With 1:50 remaining, Mike Fazio’s backhand beat a sprawling Brennan.
And Springfield left with four points in two games, both wins coming courtesy of third-period comebacks.
“The Tomahawks played great. They kept coming at us, but a couple bounces went our way that really helped,” Springfield coach Tony Zasowski said. “We’ve been in the same boat as them – being a new team and being young, figuring out how to close games out.”
Nate Chasteen capped the scoring with an empty-netter.
“We played great hockey for 50 minutes,” Spence said. “We need to play 60 minutes.”