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Osborne, Tomahawks turn away Nordiques in shootout

Jan. 27—Jacob Osborne shrugged off the unfortunate circumstances that preceded the first-place Maine Nordiques' game-tying power-play goal with 1 minute left in a NAHL East Division game on Friday night.

The Johnstown Tomahawks goaltender simply turned the page during a 38-save effort that included a pair of late breakaway stops and saves on all three Nordiques shootout attempts in front of 2,015 fans at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial.

Johnstown won 5-4 and moved into sole possession of fourth place with a 21-14-2 record and 44 points. Maine is 27-9-5 with 59 points in second place behind Maryland.

The teams play again at 7 p.m. Saturday.

"I've just got to stay focused on making the next save," Osborne said. "Stuff happens during the game, and you can't really control that. It's how you react.

"I think I came up big when it mattered. At the end of the day, that's all you can ask for."

The Tomahawks never trailed, but the Nordiques never went away.

Johnstown led 1-0 on Alexey Yarmulnik's first-period goal.

Maine's Jake Bernadet tied it on a power play 3:45 into the second, but the Tomahawks netted two goals in 23 seconds to lead 3-1.

Hayes Hundley scored at 15:51 and captain Zach Aben found the net at 16:14.

Maine's David Helledy scored on a power play at 18:13 of the second to make it 3-2, and he tied the game with a goal 9:08 into the third.

"We were up. We were tied. We were up. We were tied. Fortunately we never were down," Johnstown coach Mike Letizia said. "Credit to the guys. When they tied it with that late goal (in the third period), we stuck with it and Jacob came up big in the shootout."

Justin Rapp used a second effort to jam a shot into an open net along the near post 14:09 into the third to give the Hawks a 4-3 lead.

But after a collision that dislodged the net, Tomahawks forward Will Lawrence was called for a roughing penalty after a lengthy discussion by the officials.

The Nordiques' Charles Tardif converted the ensuing power play with his 26th goal at 19:00, eventually sending the game into overtime.

Osborne turned away Bernadet and Tardif on breakaways in the overtime period to keep it tied.

"He gave us an opportunity," Letizia said. "Two breakaways. Two pretty clear breakaways. They tie it late. The mentality could be we feel sorry for ourselves. We had to regroup in the overtime and find a way to win."

Johnstown's Hundley scored in the second round of the shootout — the only goal in the one-on-one session.

"I just went for the same shot I had in the second period (goal) and it just worked out," Hundley said. "Obviously, it wasn't ideal at the end of the third period. We just had to go out there, work our butts off and win it."

Osborne turned away Shane Kozlina, Nils Forselius and Liam Imartin in the shootout.

"When I saw (Hundley) score that huge goal for us, I just said, 'I just need to make this save, and we win the game,' " Osborne said. "That was my mentality. Stop this shot and forget everything else."

The Tomahawks honored former 1960s era Johnstown Jets star Jim Mair, who traveled from Ontario in his first appearance at the War Memorial since the 1968-69 Eastern Hockey League season. Former Jets icons Reg Kent, Billy Ives and Harry Shaw, who also played for the Johnstown Wings and Red Wings, also participated in the program.

"This is huge for us. We really needed those two points," Osborne said. "Our division is really tight. Every point matters, especially against a team like Maine that is ahead of us. We did it in front of the fans and the (Jets) legends. It's really great to get those two points."

Mike Mastovich is a sports reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat.

He can be reached at (814) 532-5083. Follow him on Twitter @Masty81.