At even strength, Carson Briere, Samuel Solensky and Cameron Hebert go their separate ways, each playing on a different line.
When Johnstown goes on a power play, they join forces.
Both formulas are working just fine for the Tomahawks.
Johnstown leads the North American Hockey League in total goals as well as power-play goals and has used that firepower to run off a 10-game winning streak that gives the Tomahawks (17-4-0-0) the best record in the entire NAHL, as well as an eight-point lead in the East Division.
Solensky, Briere and Hebert rank 1-2-3 in the league in overall scoring.
When the team is on the power play, the order switches up and the Tomahawks have the top five scorers in the NAHL.
Briere leads the league in power-play goals and power-play points while Hebert and Solensky share the lead in power-play assists. No one else is close.
“It’s been the same power play the whole season,” said Briere, a 19-year-old center from Haddonfield, New Jersey, who played much of his youth hockey in the Philadelphia area. “We just clicked. We play really well together.
“It’s been working. All five guys on the power play have been putting up points. It’s not just one or two guys who have been doing it on the power play. Anybody on our power play can make a nice play and be the reason for the goal.”
There are even more impressive numbers to prove that point.
Briere, Heber and Solensky have produced 17, 16 and 15 points, respectively, on a power play that has scored 25 times. Oliver Benwell is fourth with 11. Defenseman Hunter Toale, an 18-year-old from Coral Springs, Florida, is tied for fifth in the league with 10.
Often set up at the top of the left circle, Briere has eight of his 12 goals in man-advantage situations.
“Everybody has their certain spot,” Briere said. “Top of the circle on the left side, but there are times when I’ll switch down low with Benwell or go across and switch with Sammy.
“If we get switched up, we can still run the same thing and everybody knows what they’re doing.”
This has been a breakthrough season for Briere, who comes from a hockey family. His father, Daniel, was a big producer in the NHL postseason, leading the Stanley Cup playoffs in goals once and points another time during a career in which he totaled 812 points in 1,097 NHL regular-season and playoff games.
Carson Briere’s 12 goals and 16 assists through 21 games already surpasses his total from 40 games in the NAHL a year ago.
“I struggled a bit with the pace of play at the beginning of last year,” he said.
That is no longer the case.
“I hold myself to a high standard,” Briere said. “Coming into the season, I wanted to definitely be a producer on the team. I don’t think I expected to have the amount of points and be producing what I am at the moment, but I definitely expected to score, get points and help out the team.”
Briere said being surrounded by so many other productive players has helped him meet that goal of becoming more of an offensive threat than he was in his first NAHL season.
Solomon, who played for Slovakia in the IIHF World Junior Championship, leads the league in scoring. Hebert, a Canadian who coach Mike Letizia describes as “a very consistent, 200-foot player” is not far behind Briere.
Letizia has the luxury of depth and balance, but he also has a special player when the team does find itself in tight spots.
“The one thing I say about Carson is he always seems to come up in the moments that are really crucial,” Letizia said. “He doesn’t seem to get fazed by what’s at stake. He scores a lot of tying goals, winning goals.
“He’s involved in overtime, in shootout winners. He has this knack for being the guy that kind of comes through in the clutch. That’s a huge trait to have in a player.”
Briere shares the NAHL lead with four game-winning goals, including three in the current winning streak.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.