Sam Evola gave himself a nice birthday present Saturday.

On the same day he turned 20, the Johnstown Tomahawks goalie stopped all 37 shots by the Maine Nordiques in a 2-0 victory in a North American Hockey League East Division contest in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

Evola’s counterpart, Avery Sturtz also was solid in the Nordiques crease, making 30 saves.

“It was a good matchup — that’s why they are both in the top 20 in the league — and someone had to win and someone had to lose,” Maine Nordiques associate head coach Matt Pinchevsky said. “The team that scored won.”

The win also clinches the East division title for the Tomahawks (33-9-5, 71 points). Maine (32-19-1, 65 points) is currently in second place in the division.

Pinchevsky thought the Nordiques played well during their two-game series in Johnstown, which also included a 4-1 Maine win Friday.

“Even though we didn’t win tonight’s battle, we certainly won the war on the weekend,” Pinchevsky said. “You could tell (Johnstown), by their body language, some of their decisions on the ice, they were holding onto dear life. Our guys remained hungry. … I  really think the grand scheme of things, (Johnstown) is fully aware that we are a harder team to beat than they ever imagined. I think last night they proved they are a simple team to beat. Tonight, they caught some breaks and got a little desperate in front of their goal, which allowed them to keep the puck out of their net. That’s how it goes.”

Johnstown opened the scoring when, on a partial breakaway, William Persson slid the puck past Sturtz at the 6:41 mark of the first period.

Just prior to Persson’s goal, Nordiques forward Aidan Connolly a breakaway of his own but the puck rolled off his stick before he could get off a shot.

The second, the Maine Nordiques outshot the Tomahawks 15-11, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Maine had three chances in a 30-second span midway through the period. Near the end of the second, Caden Pattison was stopped on doorstep.

Margel, an University of New Hampshire commit, extended Johnstown’s lead on a breakaway attempt early in the third period for his 21st goal of the season.

The Nordiques will face the Northeast Generals next Friday and Saturday in Attleboro, Massachusetts.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.