In their inaugural season, the Aston Rebels are showing the NAHL that they’re not to be taken lightly. In five games at home, the Rebels have not lost once taking down the Johnstown Tomahawks, Wilkes -Barre/Scranton, and the New Jersey Titans.
Sporting pink jerseys for Breast Cancer awareness, the Rebels took on the Johnstown Tomahawks in a home opener rematch. (their special jerseys were auctioned off at the end of the weekend)
In their home opener, the Rebels had a bit of trouble dealing wit the Tomahawks, going down two goals before tying the game with seconds left and forcong overtime, where they eventually won. The rematch was a very different game. The first period was the very definition of a gongshow, with four goals scored before the first buzzer sounded.
The Rebels Drew Blackman started the scoring for the Rebels with an early power play goal. Nine minutes later Tomahawks Alex Alger scored his own power play goal tying the game. In the last two minutes of the period, the Rebels turned on the pressure and went up two goals, an even strength goal from Andrew Zerban and then a rocket from the point by Gvido Jansons on the power play. “He has one of the hardest shots I’ve ever seen” Rebels coach Joe Coombs said about Jansons dangerous slap shot.
The Aston/Johnstown rivalry is becoming an obvious and interesting one. After the first period buzzer sounded, Rebels Evgeny Yakovlev dropped the gloves and took down Tomahawks Logan Hudson when he couldn’t stop himself from shit talking. Both were given fighting majors and a game misconduct. As exciting as the first period was, the game still had 40 minutes to play that, at times, would get gritty. Johnstown was obviously feeling the pressure after Victor Bergstrom put the Rebels up 4-1 in the middle of the second period. They managed to get as close as 4-3 by the beginning of the 3rd period, but the Rebels managed to hold them off especially with the Tomahawks taking two penalties near the second half of the third. In the final minutes, Dean Balsamo scored to seal the game for the Rebels.
Before the Rebels game against the New Jersey Titans, Christine Meehan from Living Beyond Breast Cancer dropped the ceremonial first puck to continue the Breast Cancer awareness weekend.
Two minutes into the game against New Jersey, the Rebels got an early lead; an unassisted goal from Andrew Bellant. The rest fo the first period would be a physical battle between division rivals. Halfway through the first, things started to look bad for the Rebels. First, Frank Spellman was given a double minor for a high sticking, but the Rebels managed to kill off the four-minute penalty. Five minutes later, Drew Blackman was penalized for a check from behind, he was also given a game misconduct. At the end of the period, Brenden Kapcheck was given a gross misconduct and a supplemental game misconduct for what is listed as “detrimental behavior” possibly for baiting new jersey’s Adam Hascic who was also given a game misconduct for “helmet removal-no fight”.
The second period wasn’t lacking physical play, both teams taking multiple penalties, but only the Titans taking advantage of any. By the third period, the Titans had a 2-1 lead. Five minutes in, Dean Balsamo tied the game. It would stay tied thanks to strong goaltending on both sides, despite even more penalties and rough play. At 3:36 in the third period, the Rebels were awarded a penalty shot giving them the chance to go ahead, but the shot hit the post.
The Rebels winning overtime record was threatened when the Titans carried a power play over into the extra time. Rebels goalie Trevor Micucci saved the game three times during the penalty kill to keep the Rebels alive. The Rebels had their own chance to end the overtime when the Titans were given a too many men penalty. Andrew MacDonald level puck blocking kept the Titans alive, sending the game to a shootout.
Andrew Bellant opened and closed the game. After Micucci shut down one Titan shot and Evgeny Yakovlev scored on his attempt, Bellant scored on his attempt to put the shootout at 2-1 for the Rebels. Micucci saved the game, blocking the Titans last shootout attempt giving the Rebels a 3-2 win.
“I thought we played a good team game last night against Johnstown and tonight we found a way to win but we didn’t play well,” Coach Coombs said about the win. “Not every win is going to be pretty but we’ll take it”.
The Rebels will test their skills on the road next weekend against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.