December 11, 2017

Five Observations From WB/Scranton Series (December 8-9, 2017)


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Okay. Without further ado, here's Five Observations from Johnstown Tomahawks vs Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Series (December 8-9, 2017.

5. Horrible Call


On Friday night, the Tomahawks didn't look their sharpest. Tomahawks head coach, Mike Letizia, in the Tribune-Democrat even stated that he didn't feel the team played up to their caliber.



With that said, the Tomahawks still battled with the Knights and found themselves minutes away from overtime, tied at one goal each. Then, this happened:

Click to play


Just seconds after crossing the blueline, Knights' defensman, Shay Donovan, ripped a shot over Johnstown's netminder, Kade Phipps, to give the Knights a 2-1 lead, which would be the eventual game-winner.

What could have been a great weekend for the Tomahawks turned into just a good weekend, as they split the series with the Knights.

If not for that terrible call of no-offsides, the Tomahawks would have probably at least sent the game into overtime, picking up a point. With the terrible start the Tomahawks had to start the season, 2-12-0, every point matters now that we're officially halfway through the regular season, climbing for that last playoff spot.

To miss a call, a call like the one on Friday night, is just unacceptable.

But, what's really going to come of it?

The loss is already official. The linesman has already officiated another game.

All I hope for is that the league addresses this terrible call, and makes sure that this type of thing doesn't happen again. Though, if you remember, this isn't the first time the Knights got away with a non-whistled play that lead directly to a goal. Back in November this wasn't called a high-stick:


Seconds later, that same Knight's player would score on the breakaway.

Interesting note: Is the league testing out the four-man official system? Looking at boxscores from other games in our division, as I do to keep tabs on everything, I've noticed a lot of the games are featuring two referees. Oddly enough, the games in Johnstown, haven't. Make out of that what you'd like.



4. Solid In Net


The Tomahawks have been looking for that steady number one netminder all season long, and the way that new addition, Kade Phipps, has been playing, they might have found it.

After officially joining the team before last weekend's games, Phipps has started in net for Johnstown in four straight games. In those four games he has a record of 3-1-0 (that only loss coming on Friday night), a save percentage of .951, and one shutout.

Impressive is an understatement.

Both Jack Leavy and Britt League, while having played decently and having some games where they've each shinned, neither goalie, to this point, has shown consistency like Phipps has in his first four games with the team.

Leavy has appeared in six games with Johnstown and holds a record of 2-3-0, with a save percentage of .896.

In today's game, anything below .900 is troubling and even right at .900 it isn't as good as team would like it to be in this modern area of the game.

In the NAHL top 20 goalie save percentages of goalies who've at least played 10 games, number 20 ranked goalie, Josh Benson, from Fairbanks, has a .911 save percentage in 16 games. From there it only goes up.

Leavy is currently not ranked because he hasn't appeared in at least ten games this season.

Last season, while with Aston, Leavy had a save percentage of .921 in 20 games.

In his six games with the Tomahawks, Leavy has had three games in which he's allowed two goals or fewer. In his other three games he's allowed, 4, 5, and 6 goals.

For Britt League, he holds a record of 2-5-2 with the team's other shutout and a current save percentage of .889.

Six of the 11 games he's appeared in he's allowed three goals or less. In the other five he's given up between 4-6 goals.

League currently ranks 37th in the league in goalie save percentage.

I think it would be safe to say that Phipps will probably continue to start games for Johnstown until he has a bad one, or gets tired. With two games this upcoming weekend, then a week off before the New Year's Eve weekend pair of games, Phipps could be in net till the calendar turns to 2018.

3. Solensky Hot Streak Ends


This weekend saw Samuel Solensky's hot point streak end on Saturday night.

The night prior, it was Solensky's ninth goal of the season, only 1:59 into the game, that gave the Tomahawks their only goal of the entire game. With the point, it extended his scoring streak to eight games.

On Saturday, Solensky was held off the score sheet. With Samuel's talent level, I have no doubt he'll start a new streak this upcoming weekend.

In the eight games which his streak lasted, Solensky had 12 points (four goals, eight assists) and one fight.

2. Ott Continues His Hot Streak


While Solensky's scoring streak might have ended, his linemate, Donovan Ott's continued through the weekend and has now reached seven games.

On Friday night, he was given an assist on Solensky's goal, after he had received a pass from Davidson, which launch him and Solensky on a 2-1 offensive rush.

The following night, Ott scored the Tomahawks second goal (the insurance marker) to help the Hawks defeat the Knights, 2-0.

In those seven games, Ott has recorded 11 points (seven goals, four assists) including one hat-trick.

Last season, Ott averaged a point a game scoring 57 points in 57 games and he's continued that trend this year, scoring 14 points in 14 games.

1. Penalty Kill Up, Power Play Down


This weekend the Tomhawks did not give up a power play goal as they were able to go 10-for-10 on the PK.

The Knights' penalty kill unfortunately was just as good as the Tomahawks went 0-for-13 on the power play, which included a couple 5-on-3 opportunities.

If the Tomahawks could have scored a few power play goals this weekend, they wouldn't have had any troubles sweeping the Knights.

Not scoring on 13 power play oppertunites has dropped Johnstown's power play to 16th in the league (19.4%).

Killing off all 10 penalties they took during the weekend has boosted the Hawks overall penalty kill to 19th (74.2%).

Last weekend vs the Titans, Johnstown had managed to go 6-for-17 on the power play, though New Jersey's penalty kill is ranked 20th in the league (74.1%) out of 23 teams.

Quick Mentions

-- The NAHL named Kade Phipps, East Division Player of the Week. The second star of the week was another Tomahawks' player, Donovan Ott. Read about it here.

--Johnstown now holds an overall record of 9-19-1-1 at the halfway mark of their season (30 games). In their last ten games they hold a record of 5-4-0-1 which is 2nd best currently in the division. Both Philadelphia and WB/Scranton are 6-4-0-0 in their last ten.

-- Something that the Tomahawks didn't have at the start of the season was a well balanced lineup. As the season has moved along, with a few roster changes, the dynamics of the team has changed for the better. You're seeing a more well-rounded lineup with players fitting into roles nicely. Each line has become pretty well balanced and there's not as many "same style" of players as there was when the season started.

The top two lines have shown good scoring ablites, while the bottom two lines have shown they can contibute with some scoring, but more importantly, an ablitly to grind and play good defense.

-- Working off the last thought, I'd like to mention Tomahawks defensman, Carter Dwyer, who's been playing some solid defense for the Tomahawks as of late.

Dwyer has worked himself out of a -11 hole, which at one point was one of the team's worst +/- ratings. He's now currently only a -1 (which is tied for 2nd best on team) in a span of ten games, which included six games in a row where he was a +1 or better.

The Tomahawks have started scoring more consistently, have gotten better goaltending, and with players like Dwyer improving their game, it's no wonder the Tomahawks are rebounding from a bad start of the season.

-- Johnstown is currently ranked 5th in the league when it come to attendance, but the troubling number is that they're currently averaging 1,971 fans per game. This is the lowest attendance has been since Johnstown has entered the league.

Hopefully this is a trend that will turn around as the team still has 16 home games left on the schedule. The poor start is definitely a factor for the lower number thus far.

Last year the Tomahawks averaged 2,219.

East Division Standings


Below is a look at the current standings for the East Division. The Tomahawks still ten points behind the Titans for the last playoff spot in the division.



The Tomahawks travel this weekend to face the Rebels on Friday and Saturday.

The Titans will play Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday, and then travel to play Northeast Saturday and Sunday.

Wilkes-Barre's only game this week is verse the Titans.

TheTomablog's Three-Stars-of-the-Weekend










December 7, 2017

Five Tomahawks Alumni Who Are Having Good 2017-18 Seasons

We're a few months into the 2017-18 hockey season and I thought we should do some sort of Johnstown Tomahawks' alumni post to keep everyone updated on players that have moved on from their careers in Johnstown.



For this alumni report we'll be focusing on the five players that are having great seasons so far this year in the college ranks. Most likely sometime next week we'll do another alumni post focusing on all former Tomahawks' players that are now playing pro hockey all over the world, which, if you didn't know, includes a handful of players.

So let's get started. Agree with the list? Think we missed someone? Leave a comment here on the blog or on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages.

5.




Ryan Bednard played one season for the Johnstown Tomahawks back in the 2014-2015 season. For Johnstown, he appeared in 37 games and posted a record of 16-16-5 with a save percentage of .913. He had one shutout for Johnstown as well.

Bednard is the first Tomahawks' player, and only player so far, to be taken in the NHL draft. Bednard was selected by the Florida Panthers during the 7th round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Bednard is currently in his second full season with Bowling Green State University. Last season he played in seven games for the Falcons and posted a record of 4-3-0 and a .882 save percentage.

This year, he's played in 11 games and has a record of 3-2-4 with an impressive save percentage of .927. He is currently the team's starting goalie.

Among Tomahawks' goalie alumni, Bednard has the second best save percentage this season. The first? That player will be making an appearance on this list as well, further below.

4.



Jordan Watt played two season with the Johnstown Tomahawks, during the team's first two season in Johnstown. Watt was a top goalscorer for Johnstown both season. In 2012-13 season, Watt was third on team in points with 37 (20 goals, 17 assists).  The following year, 2013-2014 he was fifth in scoring with 34 points (22 goals, 12 assists).

Watt is currently in his third college hockey season, second at Stevenson University after transfering from Neumann college after his first year.

Watt had to sit out the 2014-2015 season due to NCAA rules, as he had played in 11 game for Victoriaville Tigres of the QMJHL, a Major-Junior hockey league based in Canada.

In one season at Neumann college, Watt played in 10 games and had five points (three goals, two assists).

Last year, in his first season at Stevenson University, Watt appeared in 26 games and scored 17 points (nine goals, eight assists).

This year so far, Watt has played in ten games and is producing more than a point a game with 12 total (two goals, 10 assists). His 12 points is good enough to give him the lead in point totals on the team.

Another impressive feat is that so far this season Jordan does not have a single penalty minute.

3.



Andrew Lindgren is in his second year at St. John's University which is part of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Lindgren played one partial season for the Tomahawks during the 2015-16 season after he was aquried by the team from the MN Magicians. In 28 games, he had a record of 16-9-1 and a save percentage of .905, with two shutouts.

He helped Johnstown qulifiy for the playoffs and got the team to the second round before being defeated by the Aston Rebels.

Like Bednard, Lindgren has improved from his first year of college hockey. In his first year with St. John's, Andrew played in 11 games, as a backup goalie, and held a record of 4-4-2 - with a save percentage of .899.

This year, he's played in six games, spliting time equally with his goaltending partner, and holds a record of 4-1-1. His current save percentage is .933 and he has one shutout on the season.

His save percentage gives him the best out of all former Johnstown goalies playing this season in the college ranks.

Trivia: Andrew's brother, Charlie Lindgren, has played in eight games this season for the NHL's Montreal Canadians.

2. 



Andrew Romano was a fan favorite during his time in Johnstown, which spanned two full season (2014-2016). Romano is one of Johnstown's all-time top-point leaders, currently ranked third in team history having scored 80 points while a Tomahawk.

In his first season with Johnstown, Romano played in 58 games and scored 24 points (seven goals, 17 assists). The following year he tied for the team lead in scoring with 56 points (17 goals, 39 assists). 

During his second year with the Tomahawks, he was the team's ironman as he was the only player to play in all 60 games.

Andrew has found the same success he had in Johnstown now playing for Suny-Geneseo.

Last season, Romano scored 26 points (nine goals, 17 assists) in 27 games.

This year, he's scored 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) in 11 games, which is currently second best on the team. Like Watt, Romano has shown perfect discipline, not having recorded a single penalty minute thus far.

1.



The Tomahawks currently have one former player who's been able to reach the ranks of the NHL and that's defensman, Casey Nelson. If I had to bet who I think might be someone that could get to that level some day, my money would be on Luke Lynch.

Lynch played two season for the Johnstown Tomahawks and ranks just behind Andrew Romano on the all-time points list with 78 as a Tomahawk.

In his first season with Johnstown, back in 2014-2015, Lynch scored 22 points (15 goals, seven assists) in 56 games. He also had 94 penalty minutes.

The following year, Luke appeared in 57 games and had 56 points (29 goals, 27 assists) including 116 penalty minutes.

With Johnstown, Luke could do it all. Hit, score, fight, which the fans loved him for. He's taken that game to the college D1 ranks and has had continued success there.

Last season with Robert Morris, Lynch played in 37 games and had 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists).

This season he's become a point a game player, having 15 points (nine goals, six assists) in 15 games. He's also a +4.

Trivia: Lynch's brother, Zac, who also played for Robert Morris, was a point or better player in his last three seasons at Robert Morris and is currently playing in the ECHL. In his pro career he has 28 AHL games of experience.





December 4, 2017

5 Things From Johnstown vs New Jersey Series



The Johnstown Tomahawks are coming off one of their best weekends so far this season, winning two out of three games. Instead of a regular goal-by-goal review, here are five takeaways from this past weekend's games.

5. One Very Bad, No Good, Period

Out of three games this weekend, Johnstown's only loss came on Friday night. Though the final score would be 9-6, in New Jersey's favor, the Tomahawks didn't play a bad game. No. They just played a terrible second period.



The Tomahawks went into the second period with the score tied at two. It was an exciting, back-and-forth game after one period of play. Then, for a period, the Tomahawks totally fell apart, and gave up a total of six goals.

One of those goals came on the power play and another came shorthanded.

It seemed for that second period, everything the Titans threw on net was going in (and basically did). It didn't matter who was in net for Johnstown, Leavy or League, the puck had no problem getting into the back of Johnstown's net.

In total, Johnstown outshot the Titans in the game, 40-29. In the second period, the Titans placed 10 shots on net with 60% of their shots going in.

In the third period, Johnstown tried mounting a comeback, but the damage was already done. If not for that second period, the Tomahawks could have had a possible perfect weekend.

4. Enter Kade Phipps

The following two games, Saturday and Sunday, saw a brand new netminder in net for the Tomahawks; Kade Phipps.

As Mike Mastovich reported in the Tribune-Demorcat after Saturday night's game, Phipps was picked up by the Tomahawks on Monday, as Britt League had been called up to Youngstown and they didn't know if League would be back or not for the three-game weekend.

Well, League was returned, but Phipps stayed with the team, practicing, and allowing coach Letizia to get a look at the 1998 birth-year goalie.

On Friday night, Titan's backup goalie, Matt Ladd left the game with a lower body injury. This caused the Titans to have to bring in their "emergency" backup goalie. Regular starter Brandon Perrone was already out of the lineup due to an injury of his own.

Short a backup goalie for Saturday and Sunday's game, the Titans hoped they could bring Phipps to their team.

As the Tribune-Demorcat article explained, Phipps thought it'd be better for him to stay with Johnstown, and luckily for Johnstown, he did just that.

Phipps would play Saturday and Sunday's games for Johnstown and played stellar.

On Saturday, he took a shutout into the third period, eventually giving up three goals in the 4-3 win.

On Sunday, he took another shutout into the third period and this time allowed a lone Titan's goal in the third, giving Johnstown a 5-1 win.



In total, Phipps faced 76 shots and only allowed four goals.

It was an impressive showing for the new Tomahawks' netminder and one of the key elements that helped Johnstown take four out of six points from an overly cocky New Jersey team.

3. Player of the Week Honors

Earlier today the North American Hockey League annouced that Johnstown Tomahawks' forward, Andy Nedeljkovic was named as East Division Player of the Week.

Nedeljkovic had a great weekend, and his best weekend since joining the Tomahawks from the USHL earlier this season.

In three games, Nedeljkovic scored five points (three goals, two assits). Three of those points came during Sunday's 5-1 Tomahawks win.

Also in the announcement, Ben Schmidling was listed as an honorable mention for his  four point weekend (two goals, two assists).

2. Hot Power Play/Overall Upward Trend

During the weekend series the Tomahawks scored six power play goals against the Titans. One on Friday, two on Saturday, and three on Sunday.

Overall, the Tomahawks have the league's eighth best power play scoring 21.6% of the time.

This is quite impressive considering that the Tomahawks currently have the worst record in the league, 8-18-1-1, and have one of the fewest team goals scored in the league with 68 total.

Thought the Tomahawks are still the worst team in the league, they are trending up. Currently, they're the second hottest team in the division in their last ten games (5-4-0-1). In that span they, as a team, have a goal differential of +2.

Considering that the team has only won eight games all year, and five of them have taken place in the last ten games, there's a lot to get excited about as the season moves along.

The Tomahawks are only eight points back from tying the Titans for the last playoff spot in the East division.



If the Tomahawks can find a way to fight back and make the playoffs this season, it'll make for quite the story.

1. Solensky and Ott

Two of the Tomahawks best players are showing exactly why they're two of the Tomahawks best players.

This past weekend Samuel Solensky scored four points vs New Jersey (four assists) and had his first ever fight when he dropped the gloves with Titan's tough d-man, Holden Biebel.

With one point on Friday night, another on Saturday, and then two on Sunday, Solenski is currently on a seven-game scoring streak. In those seven games he has three goals, and seven assists.

His streak started back on November 10th.

Donovan Ott also had a nice weekend vs the Titans where he also registered four points (three goals, one assist). Like his linemate, Ott is on a scoring streak himself. His is at five games which has seen him score six goals and three assists.

Ott's streak started back on November 17th.