JOHNSTOWN, Pa. - The Toledo Storm wasted a great comeback last night against the Johnstown Chiefs.
The Chiefs' 5-4 victory at Cambria County War Memorial Arena had the makings of a one-sided affair when Johnstown took a three-goal lead on forward Eric Schneider's natural hat trick in the first period.
But the Storm gradually struck back and eventually pulled even on Kevin Kerr's goal 29 seconds into the third period, his second of the night, before Johnstown struck back with two more goals in a 29-second span.
“We showed a lot of character after being down 3-0 on the road,'' Storm coach Dennis Holland said. “We still made too many mistakes defensively. You can't do that on the road.''
Toledo lost its second straight game and fell to 4-8-1 overall. Johnstown is on a 5-0-1 streak and moved to the top of the Northwest at 7-6-1.
Johnstown's Schneider scored 9:43 into the game with a bullet from the left-wing circle that beat goaltender Alex Westlund high inside the far post.
Only 23 seconds later, before the first goal even had been announced, Schneider took a pass from Dan Carlson and used a backhand move at the top of the crease to tally his second goal.
Chiefs' right wing Jim Shepherd set up Schneider's natural hat trick with a cross-ice pass that enabled the second-year center to slip the puck just between Westlund's glove and the near post at 16:36.
Holland substituted goaltender Joey MacDonald for Westlund after Johnstown's third goal, though Westlund returned for the start of the second period.
With 1:25 left in the first, Storm enforcer Jason Norrie provided a physical and psychological lift by beating Chiefs defenseman Jeff Sullivan in a fight. Sullivan didn't return because of a facial injury.
“It was a turning point to get us back in the game,'' Holland said. “It sparked us. We came out with a new attitude in the second period.''