• David Nicoletti

THE ROAD TO THE ROBBY IS ON! - Tomahawks Ready For Round One Scrap Against Rebels

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, we have arrived! After a long hard fought regular season, the Tomahawks are set and prepared for the postseason. For round one, things should get interesting. As the #2 seeded Tomahawks will battle against the #3 seeded Jamestown Rebels in a best-of-five series to kick things off in their quest in the road to the Robertson Cup.

Game 1 - Friday, April 22nd, @ 1ST SUMMIT ARENA @ Cambria County War Memorial - 7:30 p.m.

Game 2 - Saturday, April 23rd, @ 1ST SUMMIT ARENA @ Cambria County War Memorial - 7 p.m.

Game 3 - Thursday, April 28th, @ Northwest Arena - 7 p.m.

Game 4 (if necessary) - Saturday, April 30th, @ Northwest Arena - 7 p.m.

Game 5 (if necessary) - Sunday, May 1st, @ 1ST SUMMIT ARENA @ Cambria County War Memorial - 6 p.m.

These two teams in the regular season have had their up-and-down battles. Tough physical fights, and games that just want to make you sit at the edge of your seat. But out of the 12 games played between each other, it was Jamestown who ended up with the better record of 8-4. While Johnstown held a record of 4-6-1-1 against the Rebels in 2021-22.

Now let's get to know these two teams.

For the Jamestown Rebels, this year they finished 3rd in the East Division with a record of 35-22-2-1 (73 pts). This is the teams' fifth appearance in the NAHL Robertson Cup Playoffs. Their last appearance back in 2019 saw them fall in the first round to the New Jersey Titans in five games.

With their hardware of one regular season title (2016-17), and three division titles (2015–16, 2016–17, 2017–18), the Rebels are looking to add more after getting back onto the ice after their 2020-21 season was shutdown due to COVID.

This year, the Rebels had two 50+ point scorers, and one 30+ goal scorer in John Lundy.

Lundy, team captain, and native of Brooklyn, New York, put up 57 points (32 G, 25A) in 60 games for Jamestown this season. Leading the team in goals, points, power-play goals, short-handed assists, and +/-. The Top Prospect and former Austin Bruin and Amarillo Bull was named East Division Star of the Week once from February 7-13 of 2022.

The left handed shot is one of three players, along with James Miller (D), and Max Hamstad (F), to play all 60 regular season games in 2021-22 for the Rebels.

Jamestown's other top point scorer in Jak Vaarwerk (F), an East Amherst, New York native who lead the team in assists and game-winning-goals, has also had a heck of a season. The 2003 birthyear commit of UMass-Lowell (Hockey East, D1) in his rookie campaign put up 53 points (18G, 35A) in 56 games.

The Rebels top goaltender in Nolan Suggs, a native of White Lake, Michigan, has had a year in net for Jamestown. In 39 games, the 6'1" 177 pounder has recorded a 25-10-1-1 record, a 2.25 GAA, a 0.928 SV%, and two shutouts with 2266 minutes in net. Numbers that rank him 6th in the league in wins, 4th in GAA, and 2nd in SV%.

Special teams for the Rebels ranks around the middle of the pack in both the division and the league. As their 17.3% on the power-play ranks them 5th in the division (19th in the league). On the PK, they're 82.6%, which ranks them 3rd in the division (11th in the league). So let's see if Jamestown improves in the special teams department. As in the playoffs, this is the perfect time to step up when the time is needed the most.

For your Johnstown Tomahawks, they finished out 2021-22 ranked 2nd in the East with a 34-20-4-2 record (74 pts). This is their seventh playoff appearance in team history. Their last appearance last season saw them fall in five games in the first round to the Maryland Black Bears.

Their hardware consists of one regular season title (2018-19), and two division titles (2018-19, 2020-21). Obviously, not the best way to go down when finishing 2nd overall in the league last year. So Johnstown will be looking to respond in hopes of earning their second trip to the final four.

The Tomahawks this season had three 50+ point scorer (two 60+ and one 70+). As well as three 20+ goal scorers (one 40+).

Let's start off with none other than University of Connecticut (Hockey East, D1) commit, and leader in all, Jake Black. The native of Pomfret, Connecticut in his rookie campaign has been none other than outstanding for the Hawks, registering 79 points (41G, 38A) in 60 games. Leading the team in goals, points, points per game, power-play goals, +/-, and shots. Numbers that rank him 5th in the league in points per game, 2nd in points, and 1st in goals.

Black was named East Division Star of the Week twice, his first from October 11-17, 2021, and his second from February 21-27, 2022. Jake is one of five players to play all 60 regular season games for the Hawks. The right handed shot ended the season riding on a four game points streak (1G, 6A).

How about the leader in assists, Jacob Badal (F), a native of Flushing, Michigan, in his third and final year in the league has been one of the best in his book. As the Top Prospect registered 62 points (21G, 41A) in 60 games. The former player of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Minnesota (Wilderness), and Odessa was named East Division Star of the Week once from November 29-December 5, 2021. The lefty ranks 4th in the league in power-play assists, and is also one of five players to play all 60 regular season games in 2021-22.

Badal ended his regular season riding a four game points streak (5G, 2A). As well as receiving an Honorable Mention on this weeks Stars of the Week.

For goaltending, out of their seven they've went through, Waterbury, Connecticut native Matthew O'Donnell has ranked among the top. In his 20 games for the Hawks since coming over from the Wichita Falls Warriors has put up a 12-5-2 record, a 2.79 GAA, a 0.905 SV%, and a shutout with 1161 minutes in net. The 2002 birthyear player ended the regular season riding on a two game wins streak. As he collected both wins in net, helping the Hawks sweep the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks in their final regular season series.

As for the special teams, simply put, Johnstown, is one of the best on both sides of the board. Their power-play ranks 2nd in the division (7th in the league) with 24.1%. On the penalty kill, they're 1st in their division (4th in the league) with 84.5%. So let's see if the Tomahawks can continue their dominance on special teams and step up when the time is needed in the post season.

When it comes to the Hawks battling the Rebels in the playoffs, they've met one previous time. That came back during the 2016 Robertson Cup Playoffs, where Johnstown was swept in a best-of-five series to the then Aston Rebels 3-0. Leaving them one round shy of a final four appearance. Johnstown was ranked 3rd, while the Rebels were the division leaders at the time.

While Johnstown may hold a playoff record of 0-2-1 against Jamestown, there's always room to turn around and improve. But again my friends, this series should be interesting.

It all starts 7:30 p.m. this Friday night down at the War Memorial. For tickets, call (814) 536-4625, or visit ticketmaster.com to claim your seats.

The divisions' other playoff best-of-five series will include the division champion New Jersey Titans taking on the #4 ranked Northeast Generals. That series as well starts this Friday at 7:30 p.m., with New Jersey holding home ice advantage, hosting games one, two, and five if necessary.


NAHL 2022 Robertson Cup Playoffs Schedule

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