October 31, 2013

Soo Eagles Report (vs. Wilderness)

Written by: Chelsea Zalewski


The Eagles will face off against the Wilderness Friday and Saturday.  The Wilderness are 9-2-3 for a total of 21 points which put them in second in the Midwest. The Eagles are still hovering just above the bottom of the North with a record of 7-6-3 and 17 points.  The Eagles picked up 4 of their 6 points last weekend against Johnstown while the Wilderness picked up all four of their points last weekend against Janesville.

The Wilderness have something the Eagles had last season, and that is forward Michael Covach. Covach was recently named player of the week for the Midwest division. Covach was let go last season right before the trade deadline due to some roster constraints. He was picked up by Topeka where he finished off the season and then was traded to the Wilderness for the 13/14 season.  He is a right place, right time type of player. For a good portion of last season he played on a line with Rivard and VanWormer and racked up 12 goals and 9 assists.

The Eagles are prepared for battle and are sick of being toward the bottom of the standings and know they’re better than that.  Colin Brennan will likely get the start Friday after his impressive two wins in front of Johnstown this last weekend as well as his star of the week for the North division. There has been a shift in the lead scorers for the Eagles since last week’s games. Make sure you take a look!

 

Eagles Lead Scorers

Player
G
A
PTS
+/-
Ryan Urso
4
9
13
+6
AJ Jarosz
3
9
12
+4
Jacob McDowell
8
3
11
+4
Mike Sabatini
5
5
10
+1
Brad Pung
3
5
8
+5

 

Wenatchee Lead Scorers

Player
G
A
PTS
+/-
Johno May
6
4
10
+4
Billy Exell
6
4
10
+4
Jakob Romo
3
7
10
+8
Thomas Lindstrom
3
7
10
+7
Terry Leabo
3
6
9
+5

 

Eagles Goaltending

Player
W
L
OTL
SOL
SV%
GAA
Paige Skoog
3
4
0
1
.923
2.44
Colin Brennan
4
2
0
2
.920
2.45
Total
7
6
0
3
.921
2.445

 

Wenatchee Goaltending

Player
W
L
OTL
SOL
SV%
GAA
Kasimir Kaskisuo
8
1
0
2
.949
1.25
Frank Oplinger
1
1
0
1
.941
1.95
Total
9
2
0
3
.940
1.64

October 29, 2013

Tomahawks' Issues and How to Solve Them

Today we're going to do something we haven't done before. Our last post which was a game review, received several comments about the Tomahawks and the style of play we've seen from them this season. Instead of answering the questions or addressing the comments in the comment section I figured it would be better to do a whole post about them.

Before I get started I just want to remind everyone that I am not part of the Tomahawks' organization and these are only my opinions.

Enjoy.

You can click on any comment to make it bigger if it's hard to read as is.

1.
 
I don't agree that this team under values skill and only relies on physical play. In fact there have been several times where the team tends to be a little too fancy with their offensive game. If you want to see how the Tomahawks' really play, watch a game online when they're playing away.
 
For whatever reason, Johnstown is having a tough time playing in front of their own fans this season. I think that the team, right now, is still trying to figure out how to play a fast, hard hitting game, without taking it over the edge.
 
Johnstown is 16 games into this season. Currently they have a record of 8-7-1, good for 17 points. After 16 games last season the Tomahawks had a record of 6-5-5, good for 17 points. Some times people think that I use or show too many stats, but it's the stats that show the real story. It might feel like this team is not playing as well as they did last year, but as the stats show, it's basically the same.
 
At this point, this team is as good as it was last year. I think the reason people are getting upset with this year's team is that the fans were told this team would be better than last year's team. I believe that this team is BETTER than last years team, but to this point, they haven't shown it.
 
It's not time to jump ship or throw your season tickets in the trash, but the team should be playing much better than they are, especially at home.
 
 
2.
 
This season the Tomahawks have shown that when they play hard, for a full 60 minutes, they're better than the team they're playing against. The problem? They haven't played a full 60 minutes much this season. Some say it's because most of the players we have haven't played at this level before.
 
That's fine. I'm sure there is a learning curve to see what they have to do to win at this level. I'll give that up to 20 games. I feel that by then, if you still don't understand how hard you've got to work, maybe you're not cut out for this level of play.
 
Saturday's game vs. Soo, the second period was how the team should always play. They used their great speed, they used the body at the right times, they out worked Soo, and they didn't take stupid penalties. Sure the officiating at times this season has been shaky, but if you don't put yourself in those situations, you won't risk yourself going to the penalty box.
 
(A team that had great speed and play physical last season was the Wenatchee Wild. They looked like an ECHL level team compared to other NAHL teams. They finished last season with a record of 39-15-6.)
 
After dominating the second period, Johnstown didn't come out with the same energy in the third period. It seemed that the team was playing more defensive, making sure that they didn't make any mistakes, only jumpping up with good pressure when the chances were obvious.
 
Fans of the Chiefs and Toby O'Brien would say they were playing "prevent".
 
That's when a bad bounce happened, and all that great hard work in the second period went away. Down by one again, the Tomahawks' put the pressure back on but it was too late.
 
If the team would have played the whole game as they did in the second there's no doubt they would have won the game hands down. But they didn't and that's the problem.
 
Some people have said it's the players on the team. Some say it's the coaching. I'd stay it's a mix.
 
These players use their speed pretty well. Take a look at Shane Bednard. He's able to skate past players and create scoring chances. Jordan Watt is another player that can use his speed and good puck handling skills to get past players.
 
The problem comes when they don't shoot the puck trying to do even more dekes. Spence has stated the team needs to shoot more and I couldn't agree more.
 
On the power play, the d-men fake too many shots, and then shoot when there isn't a lane to the net.
 
Take a look at Trevor Recktenwalds goal. It came from a regular shot but he was able to pick up the rebound. You can't get rebounds if you never get the puck on net.
 
Hitting is part of the game, and when done right, can ware down a team, lead to their mistakes, and control the play. A perfect example was also on Saturday vs. the Soo Eagles. Sanipass used his size to finish all of his checks. In the third period as a Soo player was carrying the puck, Sanipass tracked him down and was ready to hit him. Instead of taking the hit, the Soo player dumbed the puck for an icing.
 
This doesn't look like that big of a play but it was. The icing leads to an offensive zone face-off, which could lead to a goal. It didn't in this case, but will and does many times a season. The Soo player didn't want to take the hit to make a play and it could have cost his team.
 
On the forecheck, hitting leads to turn overs and can swing momentum to the team hitting.
 
The problem the Tomahawks have had, not only this season but last season, is making sure the hits are clean. Shoulder to shoulder, not hitting with elbows, or using your hands to hit the player in the head. This leads to penalties, which leads to goals, and in turn makes fans think the hitting shouldn't be part of our game.
 
But when you look at that second period, the momentum and scoring chances all (or most) came from good speed and hitting.
 
Why would the team play a different way period to period. Well that could be because of adjustments made by the coaching staff, wanting to play different systems.
 
Having a team not prepared and ready to play. That can also rest on the coaches shoulders. To say that a certain type of coach because of his background can't coach at this level is not the answer. Port Huron's head coach Mike Gershon played minor league hockey and has the second best team in the league.
 
How the Tomahawks are Scoring and Allowing Goals.
 
The Tomahawks have scored 40 goals this season and have allowed 45.
 
Goals Scored:
 
Even- 30
Power Play- 9
Penalty Kill- 1
 
Goals Allowed:
 
Even- 26
Power Play- 18
Penalty Kill- 1
 
When the Tomahawks are skating even strength, they're a plus team, they're troubles have been on the special teams side of things.
 
One reason I really liked JB Baker, was that he was able to get under the other team's skin and draw penalties. Right now, I don't' think the Tomahawks have a player like that.
 
Keys to Turning Things Around:
 
1. Playing a full 60-minues- If the team can play hard for a full 60-minutes, they've proven they're a hard team to beat. If the team continues to play hard one game, and not the next, you should expect to see more players being move around as the team finds the players that will work hard. If this doesn't happen, you've got to start looking at the coaching.
 
Spence does not have a losing record as a head coach and until the team overall falls below .500 you can't say he's doing a bad job.
 
2. The Penalty Kill- 40% of the goals scored against Johnstown this season have come on the power play. Solving this problem, will generate into more wins. If you look at the player's stats, as of today, there are 13 players that are pluses.
 
This just goes to show that when playing even we're a good team.
 
3. The Power Play- It's a pretty simple formula. Play hard five on five. Limit your penalties and kill the ones you take. When you go on the man advantage, make the other team pay. Do this, you should win most of your games.
 
The Tomahawks don't have to invent some new radical way of playing the game. Just do things the right way.
 
Last season the Tomahawks had the 3rd best power play in the league. So it is possible under Spence's coaching.
 
So what do you think? What are your keys to victory? Let me know what you think in the comments.
 
LET'S GO HAWKS!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


October 26, 2013

Soo Wins Physical Back and Forth Game, 4-3

There were no shutouts in tonight's game, but there were goals, big hits, and heated exchanges.

Johnstown got on the board first only 3:51 into the first period after Trevor Recktenwald picked up some lose garbage in front of the net and beat Colin Brennan with the shot. The assist went to Tyler Basham.

After Johnstown's first goal, Soo would storm back scoring the next three in a row before the period ended.

Right before Soo took the 3-1 lead, Dakoda Menslage dropped the gloves with Soo's Filip Winkler. Winkler had the upper hand early in the fight, but Menslage quickly turned the fight to his side, finishing Winkler off with 100 uppercuts.

In the second period Johnstown picked up the hitting and upped their speed. This led to Johnstown carrying most of the play during the second period, and had Soo doing everything they could to hold onto their lead.

After picking up the puck in the neutral zone, Joe Drabin skated down the ice and once at the top of the right faceoff circle, fired a shot over Brennan's glove, making the game 3-2 Soo.

Still placing a lot of pressure on Soo, Jordan Watt skated hard with the puck towards the net. He quickly shot the puck and then ran into Brennan, making him fall to the ice. This lead to a major pile up in the goal crease as both Soo and Johnstown players came to their teammates' rescue.

During the scrum, Omar Mullan and Ryan Urso found themselves battling with each other. When things dyed down the penalties were dished out. Watt received a two minute charging penalty. Urso was given a Game Ejection. The boxscore indicates it was for unsportsmanlike conduct. At the arena it was announced via the PA system as a Game Ejection for an Ethnic Slur.

Johnstown tied the game up half way through the second period from another goal from Joe Drabin. The assists went to Mitch Hall and Brady Bender.

In the third period both teams exchanged scoring chances and though the hitting continued, both teams stayed disciplined. A little over five minutes left, Soo broke the tie off a fluky goal from Mike Sabatini. The puck seemed to hit Sabatini's skate and sneak through Okicki's five hole.

The Tomahawks' mounted good pressure and even pulled the goalie, but it's wasn't enough, and Soo was able to hold on to the 4-3 lead for victory.

The game was over, the physical stuff wasn't over just yet. When the buzzer sounded, Bednard and another Johnstown player had a Soo player tied up by the net. As the Soo's bench emptied, a player went over to Bednard and celebrated in his face. Bednard pushed him, and a small fight began.

The Tomahawks already off the bench, noticed, and all skated down to the Soo's end. The officials did their best to keep the teams separated. Soo players were cheering a little more harder just to see if they could get under Johnstown's skin.

Trevor Recktenwald looked to try and head towards Brennan who was making gestures "good bye" to the Tomahawks. Recktenwald was grabbed by a linesman before anything could continue. Both teams jawed at each other till both teams left the ice.

The ref didn't call any penalties on the play. Most likely because the game was already over. However, if he would have handed out fighting majors, they would have come with automatic suspensions, as the NAHL has a rule about fighting with less than five minutes to go in a hockey game.

We understand why Brennan was happy and decided to celebrate a little more than he would have any other time. He just picked up another win vs. the team that released him. We get it. With that said, he acted like he had just won the Stanley Cup, World Series, a Gold Metal, and the lottery all at the same time.

We found it a little over the top, and the Tomahawks' player seemed too as well.

Scoring:

1st

Johnstown - Trevor Recktenwald (Tyler Basham) 3:51
Soo - Jacob McDowell (Bruno Birzitis) 5:00
Soo - Denver Pierce (unassisted) 5:59
Soo - Ryan Urso (power play) (AJ Jarosz) 14:58

2nd

Johnstown - Joe Drabin (Brandon Reinholz) 4:05
Johnstown - Joe Drabin (Mitch Hall, Brady Bender) 10:05

3rd

Soo - Mike Sabatini (Jeremy Norway, Jacob McDowell) 14:45

Full Boxscore

Notes:

Johnstown was 0 for 2 on the power play and Soo was 1 for 4.

Johnstown outshot Soo 29-23.

Colin Brennan picked up the win. He's now 4-2-2 on the season.

Alex Okicki got the loss and he's record is now 6-5-0.

Johnstown is back in action next weekend at home to take on the Port Huron Fighting Falcons, Saturday and Sunday.

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October 25, 2013

Tomahawks Beat Soo, 2-0 (Link Only)

We don't have a game review for our blog tonight, as we wrote the game review for the Tribune Democrat (Johnstown local paper). You'll be able to read the game review in tomorrow's paper.

Tomahawks Pluck Eagles (Game Story link)

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October 24, 2013

Brennan Gets Revenge, Soo Wins 3-0

Johnstown didn't play last week. Soo did and had to make a 12 hour bus ride to Johnstown. Yet the Eagles were able to play a much better game and beat the Tomahawks 3-0. This was the first time Colin Brennan played against his former team, in Johnstown, and he completely shut the door getting the shutout.

Johnstown didn't play well at all tonight. The passing was off, no real good shots on net, not a lot of hitting, and a lot of individual play. The Tomahawks did seem to have good speed tonight, but that'll only take you so far.

Alex Okicki played an okay game and he really shouldn't be faulted for the loss. You can't win if you don't score. As much as we didn't like Brennan (nothing personal) he got the job done tonight, making things look easy against his former team.

You knew coming into the game that Colin was probably going to play and try to show Johnstown they made the wrong choice in releasing him. I don't think the team regrets the move, nor do I, but for at least one game, it bit Johnstown.

Soo doesn't look like the team they were last year, for obvious reasons, but one thing they did tonight, as they did last year, was that they took advantage of Johnstown's mistakes.

Luckily for the Tomahawks, the two teams battle again tomorrow night, so they don't have to think about this game for that long.

Scoring:

1st

Soo - AJ Jarosz (Bradley Mueller, Mike Sabatini) 5:39

2nd

Soo - Mike Sabatini (power play) (Ryan Urso, Michael Caruso) 16:02

3rd

Soo - Jacob McDowell (Ryan Urso, Bruno Birzitis) 11:39

Johnstown was 0 for 5 on the power play, while Soo was 1 for 6.

Soo outshot Johnstown 23-19.

There were no fights in the game.

Full NAHL Boxscore

Colin Brennan, with the win now improves to, 3-2-2, a GAA of 2.38, and a save percentage of .923.

Alex Okicki's record now drops to 5-4-0, a GAA of 2.42, and a save percentage of .911.

Notes:

Colin DeAugustine will not be coming back to Johnstown for the rest of the season, as he was signed by Youngstown to spend the rest of the season with them in the USHL. He had a record of 2-2-1 while in Johnstown this season.

The attendance for tonight's game was 1,087. We'll probably post a rant about the Tomahawks attendance next week. We're disappointed by the turnouts so far this season, to say the least.

Tomahawks' players that didn't play tonight: Trevor Heuser, Eric Tien, Shane Cuckovich, Connor Gilmartin (injured), and Garrison Sanipass.

Three Stars of the Game:

Official

3- Johnstown- Brandon Reinholz
2- Soo- AJ Jarosz
1- Soo- Colin Brennan

Our Picks

3- Soo- Ryan Urso (2 assists)
2- Soo- Mike Sabatini (1 goal, 1 assist)
1- Soo- Colin Brennan (19 saves, Shutout)

North Division Scoreboard:

Janesville 3
Coulee Region 6 F Boxscore

Standings:
(click to enlarge)


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October 23, 2013

Johnstown Tomahawks vs. Soo Eagles Weekend Preview


The Johnstown Tomahawks are back home and ready to begin their longest homestand of the 2013-2014 season. The next 11 games on the schedule all take place at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena.

Make sure if you only get to a few games this season, it's during this long homestand because once it's over the Tomahawks will only be at home twice in December and twice in January.

This week Johnstown battles the Soo Eagles. Soo currently has a record of 5-5-3 which isn't bad but it is a record that the Eagles aren't use to. Last season the Eagles finished first in the division with a record of 41-14-5.

Like the Tomahawks, Soo has seen a lot of new faces in their lineup and currently are trying to figure out their team identity.

Johnstown and Soo played either other earlier this season. Below are the results and the boxscores.

September 27th: 5-2 Soo (boxscore)
September 28th: 3-2 SO Johnstown (boxscore)
September 29th: 2-0 Johnstown (boxscore)

Johnstown comes into the game with an overall record of 7-5-1 on the season.

This will be the first time Colin Brennan will be back at the War Memorial since he was released by the team during training camp.

Johnstown is 3-2-1 at home this season (2-2 at War Memorial, others games where at NAHL Showcase). Soo is 0-3-1 away this season.

Special Teams:

Power Play

Soo 16th (12.7%)
Johnstown 18th (12.5%)

Penalty Kill

Soo 20th (80%)
Johnstown 21st (79.5%)

Latest Transactions:

Soo

10/22/13 Marchetti, Michele (F) traded to Brookings
10/17/13 Ward, Josh (F) released
10/04/13 Rzeppa, Matt (D) released

Johnstown:

Signed Garrison Sanipass. We broke that signing on our blog a couple days ago, the post is called Tomahawks Add Huge Forward.

Trivia: Sanipass's father is a former NHL player who played in a total of 164 regular season games with Chicago, and Quebec.

He was also drafted in the first round (14th overall) by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1986 Entry Draft.
___________________________________________________________________________________
Notes:

A little over a week ago we looked at the Tomahawks attendance for their home games this season. We didn't use the numbers from the Showcase, only games that were played in Johnstown.

Last season after four games at home Johnstown had an average attendance of 2,078. This year after four home games, Johnstown has an average attendance of 2,098.

___________________________________________________________________________________
Eric Tien

This weekend is Johnstown's Faceoff Against Cancer weekend. The ice will be pink, the team will be wearing special jerseys, and they'll be teaming up with Conemaugh Health Foundation to raise awareness and support for cancer research.

One player, Eric Tien has been sharing his story this past week about his own fight against cancer. Here are some links to his story via Johnstown news outlets. Definitely worth checking out.


Tribune Democrat: Tomahawks' Tien Overcomes Cancer to Play Sport He Loves

WJACTV: Tomahawks' Eric Tien Cancer Survivor

___________________________________________________________________________________
The Wheels On the Bus
by Chelsea Zalewski
Soo Eagles Photos also by Chelsea Zalewski


The Soo Eagles are already on their bus headed to Johnstown, PA to take on the Tomahawks this weekend.  The trip to Johnstown is easily the longest time the boys will spend on the bus.  Following the twelve-ish hour bus ride are three tough games.  The Tomahawks are third in the division with a 7-5-1 record while the Eagles are in fifth place in the division with a 5-5-3 record.  In their last meetings, the Eagles were only able to take 3 out of a possible 6 points.  The boys are coming off a weekend sweep against Wenatchee and look to pick up all 6 points this time around and hopefully move up in the standings. 
Captains announced
The Soo Eagles have captains and alternates, finally.  This season’s captain is #10, Ryan Urso.  Urso, a 1993 birth year from Livonia, MI is in his last season of juniors.  Before the 5’10” forward came to the Eagles he spent two seasons playing in the NAHL with the Jamestown Ironmen recording an impressive 34 points and 152 PIMs.  After the Ironmen folded, he made the transition to the Eagles.  Currently, he is tied with AJ Jarosz for the most points (10) and he leads the team in PIMs (30).  Many people will tell you that he is the nicest kid off the ice, but it is best not to cross his path on the ice.
This season’s alternates are Denver Pierce, AJ Jarosz, and Bradley Mueller.  Jarosz and Mueller will be alternating wearing the ‘A’ for home and away games, respectively.  Denver Pierce is a Soo native, 1995 birth year, forward.  He made his junior debut with the Eagles last season putting up 12 points and 20 PIMs.  Prior to juniors his was part of the Soo Indians Major Midgets for two seasons.  According to the NAHL website he also has a commitment to play at Northern Michigan University (NCAA I).  AJ Jarosz is a 1993 birth year who hails from Crystal Lake, IL.  Prior to joining the Eagles he played two seasons with the Corpus Christi IceRays putting up 70 points and 57 PIMs.  Bradley Mueller is also a 1993 birth year, but his history is a bit different. The 6’1 defensemen from Oak Park, IL committed to play with St. Olaf College (NCAA III) last season and decided to play out his last year of junior eligibility with the Soo Eagles. He was part of the Chicago Young Americans U18 & U16 prior to his NCAA commitment.
 
The Move & Shake of the NAHL
Like most teams in the NAHL, the Soo Eagles take full advantage of the open add, drop and trade practice until the February deadline.  The protected list is outdated (10/18) and the only transactions made are Michele Marchetti (F) traded to Brookings and Josh Ward (F) released.  In addition, the Eagles have shifted their online roster a bit, adding Jeremy Norway (1995, F) who in his first game with the Eagles picked up his first goal.  Also, Jimmy Slivka has been switched from an Inactive Players list to an Active Player.  Instead of releasing Charlie Hemstrom (D) the Eagles have listed him as Inactive along with Matt Menta (F) who is still recovering from an injury.
My inside knowledge can tell you this, forwards Patrick Thompson and Anthony Saleh have left the team and went home and defensemen Charlie Hemstrom did not have plans to return to the NAHL when he left either.  In addition, Michael Caruso is nursing a shoulder injury but has not been placed on an injured reserve list so when he will play has yet to be determined.  It might be this weekend or it might not be.  One thing is for sure, fans cannot depend on the protected list or the roster/statistics pages online.
___________________________________________________________________________________
Team Leaders:

Soo
(click to enlarge)


Johnstown
(click to enlarge)


__________________________________________________________________________________
Current Standings:
(click to enlarge)


___________________________________________________________________________________

North Division Schedule

Thursday:

Soo
Johnstown

Janesville
Coulee Region

Friday:

Soo
Johnstown

Janesville
MN Wilderness

Topeka
Springfield

Saturday:

Soo
Johnstown

Port Huron
Michigan

Janesville
MN Wilderness

Topeka
Springfield

Sunday:

Michigan
Port Huron

__________________________________________________________________________________

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