September 27, 2016
The team just finished the 2016 NAHL Showcase with a record of 3-1. The only loss came in the third game of the showcase, vs the Austin Bruins. Austin is a team Johnstown has only played two other times prior, both at the showcase, and both were losses.
Each Tomahawks' goalie picked up a win with League defeating former North Division team, the Springfield Jr. Blues, 6-3.
Left-handed, Vinnie Purpura blanking the Wilderness 3-0, and registering the team's first shutout of the year.
And just arriving, Drew Hotte, played stellar turning away 34 shots in the team's 2-1 win over the Shreveport Mudbugs.
Johnstown has seen some roster movement, as to be expected at this early stage of the season. A few players are no longer listed on the team's roster, via NAHL.com.
Goalie, Ryan Glander. Forward Patrick O'Neal. Defensmen Nick Criminisi, and Bray Crowder.
Those subtractions were to make room for the following additions to the roster.
Forwards Samuel Solensky, Mitchelle Hale, and defensman, Danil Bokun. All three were sent to Johnstown from Youngstown of the USHL. Drew Hotte, who the Tomahawks drafted number one overall in this past season's draft, was another player set down from the USHL, but not from Youngstown.
Solensky and Bokun are both foreign players.
Since being added to Johnstown's roster, Solensky has four points in four games.
The Tomahawks have their first major test this upcoming weekend as they will play two games in Fairbanks Alaska, vs the team that won the NAHL Championship last year. But before we take a look at that, let's give some attention to some of the Tomahawks' who've really been impressive thus far.
To be fair, we could list everyone on the team. Being 5-1, means everyone is doing their jobs and doing them well. I'll just highlight some things you should know.
We're only three weeks into the season and Dalton Hunter has already been East player of the week twice. The only week he wasn't named to be the best player in the East Division was when the Tomahawks didn't play.
Hunter has played the last two season for the Tomahawks and in that time he's been more of a grinding, 3rd and 4th line player. With so many vets moving on from last year's team, which included a ton of skill, Hunter has stepped up into a top spot on this team.
In only six games, he has nine points. Six of those points have been goals, which ties his total from last season. Very impressive. In 2014-2015 Hunter registered 10 points. Last year, 16 points.
Ott has spent the last few season playing on the west coast. During the off-season he was looking to come back as close to home as he could. He's from the Philadelphia area.
He found a home with the Tomahawks after the team selected him in the NAHL draft. Well, that home cooking is doing wonders, as Ott is tied with Hunter in team-leading points, with nine.
He, with Hunter, is tied third in the league in scoring.
I was going to list all three goalies as they've all been impressive so far this season. Once again, the Tomahawks came into the season with goaltending being a question as Andrew Lindgren advanced to college, and Glander, as stated above, is no longer on the roster.
Vinnie Purpura get's singled out here for posting a shutout in only his second game of the season and second game of his junior hockey career.
Buncis has been playing very well with six points in six games. He also was named 2016-2017 Johnstown Tomahawks' team captain.
Buncis is one of the most hard working players on the Tomahawks' roster. This is his 3rd season with the club.
Buncis will be leaving the team for two weeks later in the season, as he did last year, to compete in the Hockey World Juniors for Team Latvia. Last year, Team Latvia won it all, so this year they've moved up in into the A bracket. The A bracket has teams like Canada and team USA.
Great play and honors all around for Buncis.
As I stated earlier, Johnstown will play this weekend in Fairbanks. Fairbanks is always a tough team to play and take two points from. Johnstown has had some success vs Fairbanks, but not last season. Last year they dropped both games vs the Ice Dogs in Fairbanks.
If Johnstown can at least split I think they'll be very happy with that. That being said, taking both games would really show that this team should be a force to be reckoned with all season long.
Currently, Johnstown is tied for first place in the East. They're tied with their cross state rivals, the Aston Rebels. Both teams have 10 points.
The following weekend Johnstown will play three games vs Kenai River Brown Bears. The Brown Bears had a horrible season last year with a league worst 4-51-5 record. They appear to have not gotten any better this year. So far they have a record of 0-3-1 and have allowed 15 goals, while only scoring 6.
After playing the Brown Bears, the team will come back East and play the newest team in the division the Northest Generals. This will also be a three game set. The Generals still don't have a win on the season, as they are 0-5.
The Johnstown Tomahawks could find themselves with a really impressive record going in to play the Aston Rebels in Aston, on October 28th and 29th.
You never want to get to cocky, cause that's when you always get knocked down a few pegs, but Johnstown could very well have a record of 12-2-0 after these next three weeks.
Time will tell.
With the way the team is playing, it has everyone in Johnstown asking the question, "Is it November yet?". The home opener can't get here soon enough.
Today the War Memorial is having a free public skate to checkout the new renovations that have taken place this past off-season. The event is from 6pm to 8pm.
Let's go Hawks!
September 9, 2016
Tonight the Johnstown Tomahawks take the ice in the first regular season game of the 2016-2017 NAHL campaign. The team will go into their first weekend of action with a roster of 29 players.
Every player that participated in last weekend's preseason games are still on the roster, but the team also added two more players to that list. Both of these players were trying out for the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL, but did not make their roster.
Andrew Quetell - D
Quetell was Johnstown's second tendered signing during last year's season. He spent all of last year playing in the USPHL U18 league for the Selects Hockey Academy U18 club. In 26 games he had 15 points.
Quetell stands at 6'0 and weights 180. He is also a left shot.
When he was tendered by the Tomahawks, head coach Mike Letizia had this to say. "We are very excited to sign Andrew for next season. He is a solid two-way defenseman with a very good sense for the game. He is an elite skater that will translate to our level."
Mitch Hale - F
Hale is a 6'1, 180 pound forward who spent last year playing for the Buffalo Jr. Sabres U18 team. In 32 games he registered 13 points.
Like Quetell, Hale was also a Johnstown Tomahawks' tender coming into this season. Mike Letizia had this to say to when the team made the announcement of tendering Hale.
"Hale is a forward who skates well and is very effective on the forecheck by getting to pucks first and making contact. He is very physical, uses his size well, and protects the puck well in the offensive zone." Adding, "His offensive ability is very good."
The Tomahawks will most likely keep the large sized roster until the NAHL showcase is over. As in years past, once the showcase takes place the team usually makes a handful of cuts. This year looks like no exception.
Of the 29 players on the roster there is one man currently dealing with an injury. Defenseman Chris Trouba.
Check out the roster yourself and see what numbers the players are wearing this year.
Look at that d-core. Nobody under six feet tall. They will be hard to play against this season.
Below is the Tomahawks official press release on the opening night roster.
Note: Team captains have not been announced yet. Once we find out that information we will pass it along on our Twitter and Facebook pages.
Johnstown Tomahawks Official Press Release:
September 8, 2016
Since the Johnstown Tomahawks joined the NAHL for the 2012-2013 season they've seen many changes to the league when it comes to the teams that have participated. In Johnstown's short five year span, they've been part of two totally different divisions.
When they first entered the league, Johnstown was part of the North Division. That division no long exists.
That first season saw Johnstown share a division with:
Kalamazoo Jr K-wings
Port Huron Fighting Falcons
Springfield Jr. Blues
Springfield and Janesville both are currently members of the NAHL but are now part of the Midwest Division.
Port Huron moved to Johnstown's backyard and became the Keystone Ice Miners for one season.
The Soo Eagles relocated last season and became the New Jersey Jr. Titans.
Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings folded and have not played since 2012-2013.
There are multiple reasons why junior hockey sees so many teams fold, change cities, or change leagues. We won't get into those reasons today. But just for some perspective, in Johnstown's four season (this will be the fifth) the league has had eleven teams, either fold or relocate.
So, it's nice when the league doesn't lose any teams during the offseason, but instead adds teams. During this past offseason, that's exactly what has happened. One of those teams joining the league will play in the East Division.
There's rumors that the 2017-2018 might see a few teams leave the NAHL, and sadly one or two of those teams may very well come from the East Division. Last year with only a four team East division there wasn't much variety when it came to who the Tomahawks played. With the addition of a new team in the east, it will give Johnstown more teams to play against like they did when they were part of the North Division.
The league was trying to add a sixth team to the East, but just like last offseason, those plans didn't pan out.
So who are the two new teams? Let's start with the one in our own division.
The Generals are a brand new franchise, as they did not relocated from any previous NAHL market. They will be the furthest team in the division that Johnstown will visit season as the Generals will play in Attleboro, Massachusetts. Attleboro is a suburb of Boston.
Attleboro is about a 12-hour long bus trip. Just as long as it would take to travel to play the Soo Eagles a few years ago.
Johnstown will remain the only team in the division to play in a "real" hockey arena. Though, the Generals' ice rink is brand new, it is yet again another recreational type of arena. Most team's arenas are just like this at the NAHL level, though the South Division teams are not. More on that in a few moments.
The Generals will play at New England Sports Village. Here is a little video of the area that is featured on their website.
At least they're like the New Jersey Jr. Titans and have seats, instead of bleachers.
This is the second new team in the league and they will be part of the South division. Johnstown will play the Mudbugs once this season. That game will take place during the NAHL Showcase.
If you follow minor league hockey, you might be saying "Shreveport Mudbugs sounds familiar". You'd be right. They used to play in the CHL (Central Hockey League) from 2001-2011. In fact most of the NAHL south division used to have teams that played in the CHL.
Of the seven teams, six of them played one time or another in the CHL. They were:
Because of this, they all play in "real" hockey areas and not areas that are in the style of a Planet Ice, aka rec rink.
Last season, the South division had some of the best attendance numbers in the league, other than Johnstown, who finished second with 2,294 average fans a game.
Corpus Christi lead the league with 3,031 fans a game.
Amarillo was fourth with 2,188.
Odessa was fifth with 2,083.
Lone Star sixth with 1,981.
Whichita Falls was seventh with 1,659.
Topeka was thirteenth with 1,004.
To compare with the East division, who, other than Johnstown, finished in the bottom three of the league.
New Jersey - 421 fans a game.
WB-Scranton - 365 fans a game.
Aston - 344 fans a game.
In case you were wondering, the Keystone Ice Miners, in their only season in the NAHL had an average of 525 fans a game.