Needing a win in Saturday's game against the Johnstown Tomahawks (27-21-12) in order to clinch a first-round bye in the upcoming North American Hockey League playoffs, the Jamestown Ironmen (37-19-4) knocked off Johnstown, 2-1, at the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena.
The Ironmen came out skating hard in the first period. As seen in Friday's game between the two squads, physical play ruled the day again as checks were laid out across the ice and scuffles after the whistle were a common occurrence. One such check knocked Ironmen forward Luc Gerdes, out for the game and, in turn, caused a brawl that included players both on the ice and from the bench. As a result of the skirmish, ejections to players on both sides ensued and the health of the Ironmen's leading scorer now in question for the opening playoff series.
Jesse Kessler of Johnstown scored on a power-play goal in the first period with Cody Gylling and Jordan Watt assisting. No goals were scored in the second period, and Johnstown goaltender Chris Truehl looked as if he would shut out the Ironmen for the second consecutive night until about halfway through the third period when Nathan Ropelewski scored from outside the blue line with Huba Sekesi assisting.
Jamestown Ironmen’s Matthew Crockett, left, avoids a poke check from Johnstown’s Jordan Watt during Saturday’s North American Hockey League game at Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J?photo by Valory S. Isaacson
Ropelewski's goal gave new life to the Ironmen and Daniel Cesarz followed up just over a minute later to add another goal to the Ironmen's total, giving them a 2-1 lead with under 10 minutes to play. Jamestown goaltender Joey Ballmer faced a flurry of shots in the final minutes, but stopped them all and the Ironmen clinched second place in the division and first-round bye in the playoffs.
Prior to the start of the game the Jamestown Ironmen and the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena paid tribute to the families of the Ironmen players as well as the billet families who have been gracious hosts to the players, some for two years. Besides hosting the players in their homes and welcoming them into their families, the billet families also act as ambassadors for the team in the community.
The North American Hockey League will release the playoff schedule this week, and Jamestown will be waiting to see who it will take on in the second round.