April 23, 2013

The Future of TheTomablog

When I first started this blog I did it for a few reasons. The most obvious to most people was that I love hockey and I love my hometown team. I was a long time fan of the Johnstown Chiefs and when they left town it was a huge loss, not just for myself but for the city.

The Wheeling Nailers came to town the next two season to play ten games per season but it just wasn't the same as it was. Then rumors began in hockey circles and in the city about possibly getting a new team for the city to call their own. The Cambria County War Memorial Authority met with league heads, from junior hockey to the pro level, trying to see what would be the right fit for Johnstown.

One of the leaders was the FHL. It's pro hockey, which Johnstown knows, but is ranked as single A (ECHL was AA) and the league, only coming into it's second year, was small and in very small markets. If hockey was to come back to Johnstown, I personally hoped it wouldn't be the FHL. Luckily it wasn't.

Then there was talk about going the junior hockey route. Being a fan of hockey and following many leagues closely, I knew that ranked junior hockey was a good brand of hockey, but knew that the people of Johnstown would probably be against it because "it's high school hockey". That's something I heard all of the time, but the people who said that had no clue what they were talking about, because junior hockey and high school hockey have nothing in common other than the players are roughly the same age and the game is hockey.

It was getting towards spring time, 2012, when the hockey world became a buzz about a possible team relocating to Johnstown Pa. That team was the Alaska Avalanche of the NAHL. The team didn't have the crowd support it needed and the traveling was taking it's toll.

That's when it was announced. Everyone reported about it, from ESPN, to Fox News, to Channel Four news in Pittsburgh. Hockey was coming back to Johnstown. The team seemed to have strong ownership, and the front office included many former Johnstown Chiefs' players. It was exciting, people were talking about Johnstown, and Johnstown hockey, but I made sure not to get too excited.

As I said before, I was a Chiefs' fan since I can remember, and I watched the team go downhill on and off the ice until the moved to Greenville SC at the end of the 2009-2010 season. Johnstown was one of the smallest teams in the ECHL, and ownership was losing money every single year. In the last few years, fans stopped paying attention, the team kept losing on the ice, and to be honest the game day atmosphere was boring.

It was a few days before the Tomahawks first home game of the season and I had my ticket. I thought that I'd go, because it was going to be a special night, and then I'd probably see a game here and there. My mood was soured by the last time a team that was here in Johnstown.

That mood began to shift into excitement as I was walking around town and heard people talk about the team. They were excited about this new team, and having a team to call their own. As I walked into the War Memorial on September 29, 2012 there was an excitement in the arena that I hadn't felt in that place for many many years.

And then the pregame ceremonies began.

It was a packed house, it was loud, Mario Lemieux was dropping the puck, the players were being introduced to the rowdy fans, there was indoor fireworks going off. This was the start of something different. As soon as that first puck was dropped between the Michigan Warriors and the Johnstown Tomahawks I was hooked again, even more so than last time.

The players worked hard every shift. The front office knew how to keep the fans engaged during the intermissions, and as the year kept going on and on, more and more people were coming to see the games. Johnstown was becoming the place to play, something special was happening.

Whenever news broke, there was a trade, or just something exciting happening, I went to my personal twitter and facebook accounts to share it with everybody I could. Before I knew it, all I was doing was taking about the Tomahawks.

During a road trip at the beginning of 2013 in Flint, I thought to myself "what could do to let people know what was happening in Johnstown with this team." I threw around ideas in my head a while. Everyday I was on the Tomahawks' website, I was checking out NAHL.com, looking for anything I could get my hands on when it came to the subject of the Johnstown Tomahawks.

On February 1, 2013 I found an article about how the Johnstown Tomahawks having invited some players from the Potomac Patriots to practice with them for a week. It was a small article but it was something that most fan's probably didn't even know the Tomahawks' did. The Tomahawks did it because they wanted to create working relationships with other teams for on and off ice purposes.

So I took the articles information and quickly started a little blog, to show people. It wasn't a huge deal but the NAHL wasn't focusing all their energy on the Tomahawks, which by all means they shouldn't, and this was something the Tomahawks website didn't post, because it wasn't really that big new worthy, but as a die hard fan, these are the things I wanted to know, I wanted to know everything that was going on with the Tomahawks.

That's when I thought to myself, "I'm sure there's a lot of people out there that would be interested in things like this".

TheTomablog was born.

Over the next two months I posted new articles almost everyday about the team, on and off the ice. I had help from people who like what I was doing. Two of those people were the Knopsnyder's, Tami and Eric. With the help of Tami I was able to put original gameday pictures on the site, and with the help of Eric, he made sure I didn't look like an idiot with my spelling and other mistakes.

People began to come to the site more and more. I was building a following of fellow Tomahawks' fans and fans of junior hockey.

On 4/22/2013 I was given a message and followed up on it which lead to what this blog is all about today.

Our newest blog-site on Hubpages will be taken down. The only two articles that we wrote will be transferred to this site. On our main site, which you are on now (Thetomablog.blogspot.com), will continue to run with new content but just not as frequently. We've been posting new content at least once a day for the last two months, but that chapter is now coming to an end. We will still try and update at least once a week but this site will no longer be our main focus.

The reason for this is because, and I'm very excited about the opportunity, we are joining the juniorhockey.com team.

The number one site for all things junior hockey. Now Thetomablog will be able to reach so many more people and really show what amazing things are happening in the city of Johnstown Pa.

Our content is now going to be even better than ever for the die hard fans because, teaming up with juniorhockey.com will give us inside access to report on all the latest news, notes, scores, one on on interviews, etc from the Johnstown Tomahawks and broadcast them for the world to see.

Via Juniorhockey.com (about page)

JuniorHockey.com is the world’s leading source of junior hockey news and information. With a combination of original content and directly released information from the leagues and teams, the site has been able to dominate the junior hockey market.
Primarily a news site, JuniorHockey.com also hosts the Protected & Prospect List and the A-List of Hockey Prospects. The NPPL is a searchable database of USA Hockey’s protected list merged with our own A-List. Combined, the list has a database of over 4,500 players. The program bridges the information gap between the players and coaches from both the junior and college levels. College coaches love being able to search for players that fit their school’s academic criteria. Let’s face it, academic performance is every bit as important as goals and assists.

Our Junior Hockey Forum is also gaining popularity because of the unique integration with Facebook. This feature eliminates 95% of the anonymous baloney that plagues other hockey message boards.


JuniorHockey.com strives to become THE online community for the level of play around the World. With well over 150,000+ page views per month during the season, we believe that the numbers speak for themselves. The junior hockey community has embraced the site and concept. We expect to see that number grow to 500,000 page views a month with the introduction of additional new international writers and growth of our player database.
This is an amazing opportunity to write about the team I love, giving the fans the inside scoop and shining an even brighter light on the city of Johnstown. We will continue to operate our Twitter and Facebook pages letting you know when we post new articles on our blog and on juniorhockey.com
The 2013-2014 season is going to be a wonderful second season for the team and hopefully it will be a wonderful season for Thetomablog and it's readers.
When we get the new site page links and information we will provide them to our readers.
To go from 200-300 view a day to the possibility of having in the hundreds of thousands and making people know the Johnstown Tomahawks' name, is an honor and a privilege.
Let's Go Hawks!!!!


Anonymous said...

Great effort & blog. Thanks.

Jon Kohan said...

Whoever you are Anonymous, thank you.