The Rebels took the opening game of the Robertson Cup Division Finals last night by beating the Johnstown Tomahawks 5 – 2 behind a strong team effort which included three points apiece by Dean Balsamo and Andrew Bellant.
The Rebels started the game off quickly. Ryan Cusin brought the puck into the offensive zone and passed it to down low to Michael Merulla. Merulla took a shot that was initially saved by Tomahawks goalie Andrew Lindgren but the rebound came out to Andrew Bellant who picked up the trash and tucked it past Lindgren to put the Rebels up 1 – 0 just 1:39 into the opening period.
As the first period evolved with good end-to-end action, Balsamo brought the puck out of the neutral zone into to the top of the circle. He passed it to Bellant on his right. Bellant’s shot beat Lindgren high short side to give the Rebels a 2 – 0 lead with 4:50 left in the period.
Austin Swingle was called for elbowing to put Johnstown on the power play. Niko Coffman passed it to Casey Linkenheld who made a nice seem pass to Ryan Burr who shot it top shelf past Rebels goalie Darion Hanson to cut the deficit in half with 3:17 left in the first.
With time winding down in the first period, East Division Most Valuable Player Kristofers Bindulis skated end to end and took a blast that beat Lindgren high short side to put the Rebels up by two with a minute left in the period.
Balsamo scored the Rebels fourth goal off of a strange bounce that was setup by Frank Spellman and Bellant with six minutes into the second period.
With a tight checking game coming to a close, Rebels defenseman Brennan Kapcheck was behind the net and getting ready to pass the puck up the boards. As he went to pass it his stick broke and the puck was intercepted by Drew Doyon. Doyon passed it to Niko Coffman who found Brandan Jaquay. Jaquay took a shot that beat Hanson with two minutes left to make it a 4 – 2 game.
With Johnstown pulling Lindgren for the extra attacker, Balsamo found Bellant at center ice and Bellant shot it into an empty net to give the Rebels a 5 – 2 win. Lindgren made 15 saves on 19 shots while Hanson stopped 18 of 20 shots. Click here for the box score.
Game two of the East Division finals is tonight at 7:00pm at IceWorks.