JOHNSTOWN, Pa. - The way Maris Ziedins figured, the Toledo Storm deserved a few good bounces last night at Cambria County War Memorial Arena.
The first-year Storm player certainly wasn't about to apologize for his four-point night that included a hat trick in a 5-2 victory over the Johnstown Chiefs.
"The bottom line is, if you work hard, sooner or later the bounces come your way,'' said Ziedins, who offered proof in two fortuitous goals on unusual caroms.
"We know four or five teams are really tight in the standings,'' added Ziedins, a center whose last goal had been on Dec. 26 at Wheeling. "This is the time you've got to win games, no matter what it takes.''
It took a strong start and a big finish for the 18-13-3 Storm (39 points) to outslug 13-10-9 Johnstown (35), a team that has dropped three of its past four games.
The Storm snapped a scoreless tie with second-period goals by Tyler Knight, his 15th of the season, and Ziedins on the power play .
But Johnstown countered on goals by Chad Cavanagh and Adam Henrich over the final 6:35 of the second to set a 2-2 tie.
Ziedins put the Storm in front 3-2 on a seemingly harmless shot from the high slot 5:07 into the third.
"It hit the goalie's glove,'' Ziedins said. "It was a long shot and it didn't go right in the glove. It bounced up and fell behind him, and he didn't see it.''
Johnstown's David Currie made the initial stop, but as the goalie backed up to play a potential rebound, he inadvertently kicked the puck into the net.
Ziedins was in the right place at the right time to complete his hat trick on the power play at
11:42 of the third. A dump-in pass took an odd carom off the backboards directly to Ziedins, who had an open shot.
"We were on the power play, and we ran the puck along the side wall and the boards, and it bounced right back to me,'' he said.
The Storm's Tomas Mika added insurance with a 5-hole goal at 13:54 to make it 5-2.
Toledo goalie Scott Fankhouser stopped 23 shots for his 13th victory. But Ziedins had the biggest night, netting goals 8, 9 and 10.
"It was a big breakout night for him,'' Toledo coach Nick Vitucci said. "He hadn't been playing to his capabilities the last two or three games. He had been sick or injured and his play seemed to suffer.''
That's nothing that a few good bounces won't fix.