The 2021-22 Season Is Almost Up, Where Do We Stand?
With the 2021-22 campaign almost coming to a close, things are just starting to heat up.
This weekend the Tomahawks will take time to rest and recharge in preparation for the teams' upcoming battles throughout the next five weeks. Johnstown currently ties Maryland for 2nd place in the East with 60 points. While New Jersey, the division leaders, hold an eight point lead over second, Northeast (55 points) and Jamestown (53 points) currently have an intense dog fight going on for the 4th place spot.
One things for sure, it is still anyone's division, and anything can still happen.
Today I thought I'd do this fun little article where we will be looking at where the Tomahawks, as well as their division rivals stand going into the season's final weeks. Looking at upcoming games, what to expect during these final upcoming matches, as well as personal opinions. With must win battles, and everything on the line, these next few weeks should be some interesting all eyes on lookouts for not only the Tomahawks, but for other teams as well.
Let's start off with our 1st place team, the New Jersey Titans. Currently holding a 33-12-2 record with 68 points in the East. With top scorers like Tommy Bannister, Brendan Dumas, Anthony Calafiore, Chris Carroll, a perfect one-two duo in net with Andrew Takacs and Ben Charette, as well as DI Niagara commit David Posma, and other key pieces to make the perfect lineup. The Titans seem to have it all, and they've definitely proved that throughout the season.
With 13 games remaining on the year, eight of those at home, it seems as though New Jersey might have it easy the rest of the way. But like I mentioned before, anything can still happen. With an upcoming two-game series against the Maine Nordiques starting Friday, New Jersey is 9-1 against the Nordiques this year. Another team the Titans only have one loss to this season, the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks, and they will meet them two more times (one on the road, and one at home) before the year is up.
Maryland will then come into the picture next weekend on March 11th-12th. New Jersey holds a season record of 5-3 against the Black Bears, while Maryland holds a 3-3-2 record against the Titans. Both teams will faceoff against one another four more times this year, all games being played at Middletown Ice World Arena. With both teams currently 1st and 2nd place in the East, could we maybe be looking at the battle for the division? As this seemed to be the case throughout the majority of the 2021-22 season.
Teams remaining in the way for the Titans include two games against the Tomahawks at home, who New Jersey holds a 5-1 record against this year. As well as the Northeast Generals to wrap up their season on the road. The Titans and Generals tend to have their ways with each other. With six games played between the two, they each have three wins. Each have swept one another at least once this year. So who knows, if the standing go a certain way for some teams, these could be two games to watch out for.
In 2nd place are the Maryland Black Bears with a 26-14-5-3 record and 60 points. Some top players include Ryan Bottrill, Branden Piku, and let's also not forget their one-two duo of Michigan State commit Luca Di Pasquo, and Colorado native Michael Morelli. By the way, did you see that goaltending fight last weekend that included Morelli and Danbury goaltender Marino Ramirez? Crazy right? Wait, you didn't? Well make sure you check it out HERE!!
Luckily for each, they won't see one another until next season. For Maryland, with 12 games remaining on their plate, standing in their way are only three opponents: The Jamestown Rebels, New Jersey Titans, and Maine Nordiques. Four of those games will be at home, and half of those games will be against Jamestown. This includes an upcoming two-game series against them at Piney Orchard Ice Arena starting this Friday. Maryland has never lost to the Rebels in regulation this season, as they hold a 4-0-1-1 record against them.
For the other teams, Maryland will meet New Jersey at Middletown Ice World Arena March 18th-19th. As mentioned, the Black Bears hold a 3-3-2 record against the Titans, and this could very well not only be a possible second round match-up, but the battle for the division as well.
After that, they will meet the Maine Nordiques March 25th-26th at The Colisée. This series could possibly be an eye opener, as both teams hold a 3-2-0-1 record against each other this season. With standings points meaning a lot for Maryland in this late stage of the season, we shall very well see what happens and how things play out.
Now for the section of the article you've been waiting for! In 3rd place with a 27-16-4-2 record and 60 points, your Johnstown Tomahawks. It's for sure been a crazy up-and-down year for your team. To start, the Tomahawks have welcomed in seven different goaltenders this season. Among those include Bowling Green DI commit, Salvatore Evola, and now current USHL goaltender, and 2021 14th round pick, Tommy Heaney.
The Hawks now look to pack that one-two punch with 02' birth year goalies in Matthew O'Donnell, and Dominik Wasik. Both who have been playing solid in net since coming to Johnstown from their former teams. Let's not forget the success out front, with players like rookie forward, Jake Black, a DI UConn commit and current team points leader who leads the NAHL in goals with 34. Some other notable names include Jacob Badal, Stephen Kyrkostas, and Sean Ramsay. Plus the many others who've been playing solid hockey this late in the year.
Johnstown currently has 11 more games remaining on the year, with four of those taking place at home, all against the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks. In which who the Hawks hold a 6-1-1 record against this season. Three of those games will be on the road at Northwest Arena against the Jamestown Rebels, including a Wednesday night game next week. The rivalry can get intense between those two clubs at times, Johnstown holding a 4-3-1-1 record, with Jamestown holding a 5-4 record.
Remaining opponents include the New Jersey Titans, and Maine Nordiques. All of those to be played on the road between Middletown Ice Arena, and The Colisée. Johnstown only has one win against the Titans this season, a 7-1 win which came back on October 8th. As for Maine, Johnstown holds a 5-0-1 record against the Nordiques, never losing to them in regulation.
All I can say is that it is going to be a challenging final stretch for the Tomahawks. A tight race for 3rd, with now 2nd place, and possibly 1st place in the division up for grabs, ALL POINTS MATTER. Every game will seem like a must win playoff game for Johnstown. Each team will bring some toughness, as well as challenges. Some may seem easy, and some can be overlooked. But as long as the Tomahawks continue their dominant winning ways, we should be just fine for some late April, and possibly early May playoff hockey at 1ST SUMMIT ARENA.
In 4th place with a 27-20-0-1 record and 55 points is the Northeast Generals. Like many teams in the division, Northeast has bound to have its ups-and-downs this season. Many stars on the team, which include names like, Paul Minnehan, Ryan Gordon, David Andreychuk, Brent Keefer, and Alex Krause. The list goes on, and the talent is all there. The main backbone piece in net this year has been none other than Canton, Michigan native, Cullen DeYoung. Acquired by Northeast on October 15th, after a short three-game stint with the North Iowa Bulls.
Twelve games remain on the year for the Generals. Seven of those will take place at home, as well as seven of those taking place against the Maine Nordiques. Who Northeast holds a 3-2 record against this year. Another opponent includes three games (one at home, two on the road) against the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks. All of the previous nine contest against the two this season were decided in regulation, with the Generals holding a 7-2 record.
The other two games, which will be played at home, will see the Gens take on the New Jersey Titans. In which as mentioned, out of six games throughout the year, each teams has three wins. Could very well be a series for teams in the East to keep their eyes out for.
Overall, Northeast still has a ton of work to do in order to claim a playoff spot. A tight race for 4th, and a possible 3rd and 2nd place spot still up for grabs. A slim chance to claim 1st, but it could still happen if games throughout the division go their way. Maine will hold challenges, Danbury should be somewhat easy contests, but overlooked if not according to plan, and New Jersey should be some very intense battles from start to finish. The Generals have always been one of those underrated tough teams, so we shall see how things play out.
In 5th place with a 25-21-2-1 record and 53 points are the Jamestown Rebels. Jamestown has been one of those teams to start things off slow, but eventually find their way back into forming a rhythm of winning games. Like most teams, the talent is all there. Names like John Lundy, Jak Vaarwerk, Joshua Burke, Ryan Waltman, and Marcus Kivela Carlzon. Don't forget as well as their solid one-two punch in net with Nolan Suggs, and Jon Howe. Again ladies and gentlemen, the talent is there in Jamestown, when at times it may not seem like it.
Remaining for the Rebels are 11 games, five at home, and six on the road. Their opponents: the Maryland Black Bears (six games), Johnstown Tomahawks (three games), and Danbury Jr Hat Tricks (two games). All in all, it will seem to be a tricky final few weeks for Jamestown, as they are on the outside looking in, with all that matters is gaining as many points as possible in order to claim a birth in this years playoffs. But it may seem a bit easy at times, more like a 50/50, let me explain.
Taking a look, Jamestown holds a 2-3-1 record against Maryland this season. Probably the toughest opponent between the trio, but Jamestown can defeat them if needed. Against Johnstown, as mentioned, they are 5-4, so overall, they seem to have their ways against us, but not all the time. I believe this will be more of the 50/50 here, as these will definitely be some must win games for Jamestown. Against the Jr. Hat Tricks, they are 5-1, overall, pretty easy to get through if you ask me, but at the same time, you should never overlook the Jr. Hat Tricks.
If you want my final opinion on it, I believe it will be a battle for 4th place between them and the Generals. Unless Johnstown goes on a streak of losing games, which will then make 3rd available, I believe these two teams will go the distance and continue to have that close fight for the final spot in the East. The winner will be guaranteed a date with the first seed in round one. So lets see what happens and lets see who the better team is. They both have talent, and they both know when to step up when the time is right.
In 6th place with a 15-23-2-4 record and 36 points are the Maine Nordiques. After appearing in the Robertson Cup Championship last season as one of four teams, the Nordiques 2021-22 season hasn't been the one that they've expected to have. Overall standings wise, yes they can still make a playoff birth. But it honestly seems rare to happen with how things have been playing out the way they have.
Some talent on the roster to mention are players like Aidan Connolly, Tyler Gaulin, and Ignat Belov. Maine is the only team in the division to keep the same two goalies since day one of the year. With both Gus Holt, and Avery Sturtz splitting the time in net throughout the 2021-22 campaign.
The Nordiques have 15 games remaining on the year, the most out of any in the East. Of those, an upcoming two-game series against the New Jersey Titans starting this Friday, in which the Nords are 1-9 against in previous contests. After that will be four games (one away, three home) against the Northeast Generals, which Maine holds a 2-2-0-1 record against the Generals. The Maryland Black Bears will then get there chance against the Nordiques, as mentioned both teams 3-2-0-1 against one another.
Other opponents include the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks (Maine vs. Danbury: 4-1), and Johnstown Tomahawks (Maine vs. Johnstown: 1-4-0-1). With three more games against the Generals in between. For Maine, its pretty much a must win out if they want to have any chance of making the playoffs. Again, it seems rare at this point of the year, but like as mentioned many times before, anything can still happen. With a little magic in the pot, and a prayer up above, you just may never know. Speaking of magic, onto our final team.
In 7th and last place in the division are the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks. With a record of 10-32-3 and 23 points, it is pretty much the end of the road for the Jr. Hat Tricks this season, and kind of has been for a bit now. They can technically still clinch 4th place if they win out and things go there way. But in reality, it will be very rare if they are able to pull the rabbit out of the hat with that one.
Their top players this season have been forwards Gabe Dombrowski, and Jazz Krivtsov. Goaltender Josh Seeley has been the backbone in net for most of the season. But after a trade on February 10th which sent him to the Minnesota Magicians, Danbury has been running a one-two-three mixture lately with goaltenders Adam Johnson, Connor McDonough, and Marino Ramirez.
Danbury has 14 games remaining on the season, half of those on the road, and half of those at home. Three of those games (one away, two home) will verse the Northeast Generals (Danbury vs. Northeast: 2-7). Three more of those games (one home, two away) will verse the New Jersey Titans (Danbury vs. New Jersey: 1-4). The Tomahawks will then meet Danbury four times with all games being played in Johnstown (Danbury vs. Johnstown: 2-6).
There will also be two games at home against the Maine Nordiques (Danbury vs. Maine: 1-4). As well as two games at home against the Jamestown Rebels (Danbury vs. Jamestown: 1-4-1). Pretty much to sum it up for Danbury, it's a play for pride situation here. As well as an opportunity to see who the coaches and staff want to make sure are on the team in hopes for a better run next year. It's unfortunate for the Jr. Hat Tricks, two years in the league, two years of finishing last place. But hopefully the future is bright and a turnaround will soon come.
So there you have it, a look at where the Tomahawks and other teams in the East Division stand heading into the season's final weeks. A lot of must win games for most teams, as well as a lot of tight races for playoff seeding. Make sure you give us your opinions in the comments and tell us what you make out of all of this. These should be some interesting final stretches, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. The Robertson Cup Playoffs are just right around the corner, and things are about to get crazy.