November 29, 2013

Tomahawks Invade West Coast (Weekend Preview)

This weekend (and next weekend) the Johnstown Tomahawks travel to the West Coast to take on the Wenatchee Wild.

Last season Johnstown visited Wenatchee and in two games they finished with a record of 1-1.

So far this season both teams battled each other at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena twice. Each team picked up one win.

The two games in Johnstown only a couple weeks ago were very physical and entertaining games. We except to see the same hockey the next two weeks.

Coming into this weekend Johnstown is on a two game winning streak and have won six of their last seven games. On the other side, the Wild have won three in a row, and six of their last eight games.

Wenatchee is 11-10-2 good for 5th place in the Midwest Division.

Johnstown is 14-9-1 good for 2nd place in the North Division.

Previous Meetings:

November 15, 2013- Johnstown 6-4 Boxscore
November 16, 2013- Wenatchee 5-1 Boxscore

Special Teams:

Wenatchee

Power Play 20.8% (4th) 25 for 120
Penalty Kill 89.4% (7th) 11 for 104

Johnstown

Power Play 13.5% (15th) 14 for 104
Penalty Kill 80.3% (20th) 26 for 132

When Johnstown scores first they're 8-1-1
When the Tomahawks lead after two periods they're 7-0-0

When Wenatchee is trailing after two they're 0-6-0
The Wild are 7-3-1 at home this season

Team Leaders:

Wenatchee
(click to enlarge)


Johnstown
(click to enlarge)


Standings:
(click to enlarge)




Tomahawks' Add D-man for Road Trip:

At the beginning of this week we broke the story about the Tomahawks' adding a defenseman to the roster for this current road trip. That player is Logan Hudson. You can read all the details here.

Pittsburgh Penguins Elite Teams Playing at War Memorial This Weekend:

Just because the Tomahawks are on the road doesn't mean you have to go without seeing live hockey in Johnstown. The Pittsburgh Penguins Elite teams will be playing the Boston Advantage at the War Memorial Arena. All details can be found on our blog post here.

Notes:

Eric Tien recently played two games with the Michigan Warriors, scoring no points and was a minus 2. He was released by the Warriors this past Tuesday.

We have a new poll at the top right of the page. Make sure you vote. Thanks!

North Division Scoreboard:

Friday

Coulee Region
Janesville

Saturday

Springfield
Port Huron

Janesville
Coulee Region

Johnstown
Wenatchee

Sunday

Springfield
Port Huron

Janesville
Coulee Region

Johnstown
Wenatchee

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November 26, 2013

Johnstown Adds D-Man for Upcoming Road Trip

The Johnstown Tomahawks are heading to the west coast this weekend and they'll be taking an extra defenseman with them. Logan Hudson has joined the team as an affiliate player and will be available for the team while they are in Wenatchee.

Hudson tried out for the Tomahawks during the off season but failed to make the team. Since that tryout, Hudson has improved his game to a point that Johnstown felt it was a good time to take another look at the young D-man and have him as insurance as the team is 2,429 miles away from home.

This season Hudson has been playing for the Michigan Hounds. The Hounds play part of their season in the NAPHL. In nine games, Hudson has one assist and 14 penalty minutes.

Hudson stands at 6'1, 210lb and is a 1995 birth year player.

In AAA action with the Hounds, Hudson has played in 30 games, scoring two goals, seven assists, good for nine points, and has 87 penalty minutes.

The Tomahawks take on the Wild this Saturday and Sunday, and then take them on again the following weekend.

We've updated the roster page, which you can check out now.

Note: Cameron Smith, was sent back down to the Potomac Patriots. Smith, anther affiliate player, can be called up to Johnstown at any time.

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November 25, 2013

Pittsburgh Penguins Elite Teams in Johnstown This Weekend

The Johnstown Tomahawks are taking to the road for the next couple of weeks, but there still will be some action taking place at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena.

The Pittsburgh Penguins Elite teams will faceoff against The Boston Advantage on Saturday and Sunday at the arena. In total there will be four games played, two vs. the Midget Minor teams, and two vs. the Midget Major teams.

If you have a chance to head down to the War Memorial you definitely should. This could be your first chance to see possible future Johnstown Tomahawks' players in action.

Colin DeAugustine who saw some action in a Tomahawks' jersey this season, spent last year playing for the Penguins Elite Midget Major team.

Austin Lemieux, Mario Lemieux's son, plays for the Midget Major team. It would only make sense that his father will probably be in attendance this weekend to watch his son play.

All players on both teams are birth year players between 1996-1998, just a year or two younger than current Tomahawks' players.

For local youth hockey players and coaches that compete at the A and AA level this would be great to come out and watch to see where they may be able to fit in, or give them an idea of what it takes to play at the next level.

Schedule:

Saturday
 
Midget Minor vs. Boston 5:30pm
Midget Major vs. Boston 7:30pm
 
Sunday
 
Midget Minor vs. Boston 8:30am
Midget Major vs. Boston 10:30am
For more information about the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite teams, here's an excerpt from the team's website.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have teamed up with the Pittsburgh Hornets amateur program and Dick’s Sporting Goods to create a new amateur hockey program in the Pittsburgh area.

The “Pittsburgh Penguins Elite” will feature 14 teams playing at the AAA level – nine boys teams and five girls teams.
“Part of our overall vision of supporting local youth hockey has been to create an elite Pittsburgh Penguins youth program that would attract top players in different age groups, offering an excellent environment to develop skills, teach teamwork and compete against top teams from other areas,” said David Morehouse, CEO and President of the Pittsburgh Penguins. “The Pittsburgh Amateur Hockey League (PAHL) and Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League (PIHL) do such a great job of growing the game here, and there are a number of good amateur programs. But we thought it made sense to have a AAA program directly affiliated with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“The opportunity to partner with one of the top AAA programs in the country in the Pittsburgh Hornets and one of the most socially-conscious, sports-oriented businesses in Dick’s Sporting Goods is one that excites us. We think we can do great things together as Pittsburgh Penguins Elite.”

NHL Hall of Famer and Pittsburgh Penguins alum Bryan Trottier and NHL referee Stephen Walkom are part of the new program’s board, while former Penguin Mark Recchi will be part of the coaching staff.

The Pittsburgh Penguins Elite teams will compete in the Tier I Elite Hockey League that includes the Philadelphia Junior Flyers, the Buffalo Junior Sabres, the DC Capitals, the Dallas AAA Stars, the Phoenix Junior Coyotes and the Los Angeles Junior Kings, among others.

To read more follow the link here.

We plan on attending the games and hope to see you there.

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November 24, 2013

Johnstown Sweeps Port Huron

Team celebrate a goal on Friday night.
Photo by: Tami Knopsnyder 2013 Copyright
Johnstown found a way both nights this weekend to take all four points, closing out their 11-game homestand on a high note.
Port Huron came into the weekend with a ten game point streak, which the Tomahawks broke.Alex Blankenburg had a perfect record, 9-0, which the Tomahawks ended.

Port Huron had not lost a game all season when leading after two periods, which the Tomahawks' broke on Saturday night as well.

This was a great weekend for the team, and now they will take their momentum on the road, where they'll travel to Wenatchee and play four games, in the next two weeks.

They'll then head back east to take on Michigan, before playing Michigan again, only this time at home for New Year's Eve.

But before we look deeper into the upcoming games, let's take a look at this great weekend.

Friday Night:

Johnstown 4  Port Huron 3 F

Full Boxscore

Scoring

1st

Johnstown - Zach Wallace (Jordan Watt, Joe Drabin) 11:22
Johnstown - Brandon Reinholz (power play) (Shane Bednard, Mitch Hall) 15:30
2nd
 
Port Huron - Logan Lambdin (power play) (Lucas Little, Zach Badalamenti) 1:36
Port Huron - Logan Lambdin (Niko Coffman, Zach Badalamenti) 6:03
3rd
 
Johnstown - Mitch Hall (power play) (Jordan Watt) 2:42
Johnstown - Matthew Meier (power play) (Trevor Recktenwald, Jordan Watt) 4:05
Port Huron - Niko Coffman (Matt Seidel, Jonathan Kopacka) 8:05

Notes and Thoughts:

---Johnstown went 3 for 4 on the power play.

---Johnstown outshot Port Huron 44-28.

---Jordan Watt had a three point night. It's great to see his hard work pay off. Last season he was third on the team in scoring and that production has gone down this year. His former line mates, Gylling and Kontny aren't on the team this season and that has something to do with his production. This was Watt's second multi-point night of the season.

---The game wasn't as mean as past game's between the two teams, but there was still some great action.

----Mitch Hall had a two point night. He now has more points this season, and in less games, than his totals last year.


Saturday

Johnstown 3 Port Huron 2 SO Final

Full Boxscore

Scoring

1st

Port Huron - Mitch Maloney (Jonathan Kopacka, Bryan Yim) 11:54
2nd
 
Port Huron - Mitch Maloney (power play) (Jonathan Kopacka) 15:24
Johnstown - Forest Donovan (Joe Drabin) 16:08
3rd
 
Johnstown - Zach Wallace (Omar Mullan, Mitch Hall) 1:32

Notes and Thoughts:

---The Tomahawks' didn't play a great game but found a way to get the job done.

---Johnstown's first goal, which brought the teddy bears flying onto the ice was scored by Forest Donovan, his first goal of the season, and first goal in the NAHL.

---Zach Wallace always hustles and that lead to the game tying goal.

---Wallace then had a great move in the shootout to beat Milosek. After the game Milosek was spotted in the party pit looking for his jock.

---Johnstown is now 4-1 in shootouts. Johnstown has never been this good in shootouts, which is nice to see.

---Again, terrible officiating, for both sides.

Current Standings:
(click to enlarge)


Scoring and Goaltending Leaders:
(click to enlarge)


Final Thoughts:

Johnstown is on a pretty good roll right now. If the team can figure out how to play a full 60-minutes every game, watch out.

Johnstown is now 14-9-1, good for 2nd place.

In a perfect world, the people complaining about the team, would now use their voice to complement them on how the team is winning. Again, in a perfect world. We'll be ready when the Tomahawks' lose again, to hear from them, but hopefully that isn't for a while.

Wenatchee is 7-3-1 at home this season, so these next four games are going to be tough, but we beat Port Huron, and they're a much better team than the Wild are. Of course we'll have the Johnstown vs. Wenatchee weekend preview later this week.

We've updated the roster page and the alumni page. Check it out.

Also add us on Twitter or Facebook to see the latest attendance reports.

Great to get four points against not only a great team, but a team that's had our number since we've entered the NAHL. Hopefully there's more beating the Fighting Falcons in the future.

Also,

We have a new poll on the blog. You can find it at the top of the right side column. Vote Now. New poll every week.

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Photo by: Tami Knopsnyder 2013 Copyright
 

November 22, 2013

Soo Eagles vs. Coulee Region Chill (weekend preview)



Article and Photos by: Chelsea Zalewski

Last night the Eagles not only snapped their 6 game losing streak but they also snapped the Michigan Warriors’ 13 game win streak in a close 5-4 win at Pullar.  The Eagles scored the same amount of points in one win as they had in the previous 6 losses.  The Warriors scored first, but the goal was answered by Derek Lodermeier. The Eagles went on to score three goals, one short handed, until Zack Szajner came alive and scored back to back goals in the third. Thankfully for the Eagles it was not enough and they went on to score another goal before Michigan put on past Skoog and ended the game with just one goal difference.

I noticed that one of the articles on the NAHL website included Colin Brennan’s name as getting the win and being credited for his saves. Upon further investigation I found that Brennan was on the score sheet as well, instead of Paige Skoog.  Since I was there and witnessed how hard Skoog worked last night to keep the team above water, I can attest that he was in fact the talent in net.  Furthermore, he had a great game despite the physicality around the net.

Several times last night Warrior players ran into Skoog and each time it ended in a scrum in or around the net.  The first fight came late in the first period when a Warriors player went head first into the net onto Skoog.  Captain Ryan Urso took matters into his own hands, delivering a few punches to make a statement.  Another fight emerged at the same time between Dante Suffredini and Cody Lichtenvoort.  Lichtenvoort pulled Suffredini away from the pile that was caused from Urso and they each delivered a few punches. Late in the second period Warriors’ Colin Larkin ran square into Skoog sending him to the ice and caused Eagles defensemen Bradley Mueller to take matters into his own hands.  After the two were separated fans were concern with Skoog who hadn’t made much movement but did get up and continued to play through the rest of the game. 

Stars for the evening were Bruno Birzitis (3rd), Zack Szajner (2nd), and Dever Pierce (1st).  In my opinion Skoog deserved a star for his performance and perseverance last night. There were other outstanding players in the game but I suppose you cannot give everyone a star.

The Eagles are headed off to Coulee Region for a two game series against the Chill.  I have no doubt in my mind that with last night’s win they have received a boost in their confidence, no matter how small.  The Chill have a record of 11-8-0 with 22 points which puts them tied in 4th in the Midwest division.  The Eagles are just one point back from 4th place with a record of 8-11-4. The Eagles have done a little shaking up their lines, I noticed.  It seems to have helped.  The games this weekend should be good ones.  I believe that as long as the boys get to the net and start putting shots up and the defense remains strong (and healthy) they can be successful out in Coulee.

Soo Eagles Lead Scorers

Player
G
A
PTS
+/-
Ryan Urso
4
11
15
+5
Jacob McDowell
9
4
13
+1
Mike Sabatini
7
6
13
-4
AJ Jarosz
3
10
13
+2
Brad Pung
4
6
10
+2

 

Coulee Region Lead Scorers

Player
G
A
PTS
+/-
Mac Jansen
13
4
17
0
Jesse Tredinnick
7
8
15
+6
Richard Zehnal
6
9
15
-9
Adam Lovick
3
9
12
-4
Sean Kalbak
2
10
12
+2

 

Soo Eagles Goaltending

Player
W
L
OTL
SOL
SV%
GAA
Colin Brennan
4
4
1
2
.915
2.76
Paige Skoog
4
7
0
1
.919
2.72

 

Coulee Region Goaltending

Player
W
L
OTL
SOL
SV%
GAA
Adam Carlson          
6
1
0
0
.928
2.25
Blake Cates
5
7
0
0
.918
2.75
 




November 21, 2013

Port Huron Fighting Falcons vs. Johnstown Tomahawks (Weekend Preview)

Player pictures taken by Tami Knopsnyder


This weekend is going to look a lot like playoff hockey meets the WWE.

It's safe to save Port Huron doesn't like Johnstown and Johnstown doesn't like Port Huron.

The Tomahawks are 1-3-0 vs. the Fighting Falcons this season but their only win came the last time they played each other. It's possible to beat Port Huron, but it's going to take everything Johnstown has.

Port Huron comes into the weekend as the second best team in the league with a record of 15-2-4. They've also been able to get at least one point in their last ten games.

When you look at the players Port Huron has, they don't have a ton of superstars, what they do have is some of the best goaltending around, and players that play their systems perfectly.

Johnstown comes into the weekend with a record of 12-9-1 good for 3rd place in the North Division.

There has been some fans wanting head coach Jason Spence fired. We'll save that topic for a rainy day, but we'll say now for the time being, "That's ridiculous".

Moving on.

This is the last weekend the Tomahawks play at home until the end of December. After two games, they return to the road again and will not see home ice till January 24th and 25th, vs. Michigan.

Breakdown:

Past Meetings

9/14 Port Huron 3-1 Boxscore
9/15 Port Huron 5-1 Boxscore
11/2 Port Huron 4-1 Boxscore
11/3 Johnstown 4-3 OT Boxscore

Port Huron

Away Record: 9-2-2

Power Play 19.1% (5th) 21 for 110
Penalty Kill 85.4% (13th) 12 for 82

Johnstown

Home: 8-6-1

Power Play 11.7% (17th) 11 for 94
Penalty Kill 80.5% (20th) 24 for 123

Leaders:

Port Huron
(click to enlarge)


Johnstown
(click to enlarge)


Standings:
(click to enlarge)


Game Thoughts:

---Port Huron gets a ton of scoring chances from inside the slot. They seem to overload on one side and then make a quick pass to the center slot. If Johnstown can remember about that high slot man it should limit some of Port Huron's chances.

---Alex Blankenburg is 9-0-0 this season. He has a save percentage of .955. We can't be selective on our shots. We've got to throw everything at him, and get traffic in front of him.

---Max Milosek is a good goaltender as well, but at times he seems to get distracted by guys around his crease. Johnstown has been able to get Milosek off of his game by being in his face all night long. This is something Johnstown needs to do again, but not take penalties in the process.

---Port Huron's neutual ice game is very strong. One of the reasons is because they play so well in the offensive zone. Johnstown hasn't been able to figure out how to counter this more than a few times. Instead of using the long pass, and connecting only a select amount of times, Johnstown needs to use their speed to get to the red line and then get it deep. But that's only the first half. Johnstown then needs to be hard on the puck to keep it in the zone. With the speed Johnstown has, this shouldn't be a problem, but the players have to be 100% commited to the system.

---Port Huron isn't the best team in the league on the penalty kill so if Johnstown can get the man advantage they have to create good chances. Quick shots from the D, and having Bednard be the power play quarterback will help their chances.

---This is the first weekend that we can remember that same ref will be officiating both games, Daniel Keenan. Whoever can get on his good side early will benefit all weekend long.

North Division Scoreboard:

Friday

Wenatchee
Michigan

Port Huron
Johnstown

Soo
Coulee Region

Janesville
Springfield

Saturday

Wenatchee
Michigan

Port Huron
Johnstown

Soo
Coulee Region

Janesville
Springfield


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November 20, 2013

Let's Make a Deal. (Hockey trades, releases and callups)

One of the hardest things to bare when you're a die hard hockey fan, with loyalty to one team, is that sometimes the team will move a player that you really like. In the NHL it happens, as it does in the NAHL, but it tends to happen more often in junior hockey.

The biggest and most obvious reason to this is because in the pro game players have contracts and are getting paid. This makes moving players and releasing them a little more difficult then in junior hockey where the players still have contracts, but aren't being paid. Without having to deal with salary caps, or losing money on deals, the team can focus more on making sure they have the right players no matter what.

The GM's role is to deal with the team's player movements. He's the one that trades, releases, etc. He works closely with the coaches to either find them the players they're looking for or to move the players the coaches feel is necessary.

The Tomahawks GM is Rick Boyd. Some coaches in the NAHL (and in other leagues) are also the GM, like Port Huron's Mike Gershon.

But in Johnstown those duties are split.

Now trades and releases happen for many different reasons, a lot of which the fans are never told about. That's why when we see a player getting traded it comes as a shock, and when it's a fan favorite it can be quite upsetting.

But when you sit back and understand it's part of the game, and learn more about the inter workings of the thought processes behind player movement, it can take the sting out of these transactions.

As fans of the Johnstown Tomahawks we follow the players pretty closely. They interact with us in the community and at the arena. We build strong ties with many players and staff, which only makes it tougher when someone is no longer part of the team.

We see how they play. We see the type of person they are. This is what makes us a fan of them personally. But behind closed doors and away from the public's eye, the story can be a lot different.

In hockey, and maybe it's this way in other sports too, the locker room atmosphere is a very big deal. A team with a lot of talent will always win it's fair share of games, and may do very well in the standings. But a team that plays for each other, and makes the sacrifices for the greater good, can go on to do even greater things, because they have the passion.

Sometimes a well gelled team can begin to fall apart when there's a player or players not on the same page, or there might even a bad seed in the group. In a game were the team concept is so important, having a player(s) not buying into the concept can cause the downfall of the team.

Maybe they are carrying negative energy because of ice time, isn't happy with the way the team is playing, could even be that they don't get along with their teammates. There are many examples, but these are just a few. No man is better than the team, and if this becomes the case, a transaction can be made.

When teams are putting together their roster for the upcoming season, teams look for "their" type of player. There are many different factors for on the ice, and off.

In Johnstown, a team that is very involved in the community, looks for players with that can of personality. On the ice, Johnstown plays a physical--fast game. So they look for players that can bring that to the team.

Sometimes they feel they have that type of player, but it may turn out that they were wrong. Maybe the player feels he can play the systems that the coach implements, only to find out that the system doesn't fit their style of play, and can't help the team.

This can lead to the player and team parting ways. In the short time the Tomahawks have been around, this has happened a few times.

Winning is very important to every team. The main goal is to win a championship. This won't happen over night, and isn't the only factor the team thinks about when making player movements, but it's one of the big factors.

Sometimes we forget that this game is a business. If you don't win and put a good product on the ice, you won't bring in the fans. Without the fans you can't make money. Without the fans, you won't have sponsors helping support the team.

You can't win if you don't have good players, and a good system in place. A way that a team can get good players is by building a great reputation.

Having players called up the USHL is a great way for the team to show future players why Johnstown is the place to play, because playing in Johnstown can lead to moving up in the junior ranks. Sure, this isn't being traded or released, but it's still player movement.

This year Joe Drabin and Colin DeAugustine have both moved up to the USHL to play for the Youngstown Phantoms.

From last year's team, Andrew McDonald made the move up the USHL to play for Fargo. And Cody Gylling had started the season with Fargo before being released.

Also being able to get players college commitments is another factor in players wanting to play for that team. If a player has a chance to play for a team that colleges often get players from, it's a no-brainer to try and play for that team.

When we think of someone being traded we think that the team didn't want that player that they traded, which isn't always the case. When making a trade, to get something you've got to get rid of something, and some times that's a really good player.

If you look at the Gylling trade, we lost a really good player, but Amarillo lost a really good player in Omar Mullan. It goes both ways.

The move worked out for both teams, and most of the time they do.

When a trade happens it's because the team is looking to add to their current roster. Sometimes they're looking to add for years to come.

As we said before, there are or could be other factors to consider when a trade happens, but let's take a look at the Kessler deal.

Why would the Wilderness make this trade? Their head coach was the Alaska Avalanches head coach, and had coached Kessler before. He was familiar with him and could use his defense on his team.

Kessler being a player that would be over age at the end of the season would be leaving Johnstown at the end of the year anyway. The production he's been able to do in his career, gave him good value on the trade market. Johnstown picked up a tender and other assets which could prove to be something that helps the team for the next couple of season.

With enough d-men already on the team, it was a good trade for both sides to make. As we said, there could be other reasons a trade is made, but looking at it strictly from an on-ice perspective, it a trade that can only make Johnstown, and the Wilderness stronger.

Players can be released by a team too. This can happen for several reasons. The most obvious is when the player is deemed to not be good enough for this level of play. But it can also be that he's just not ready to play at the Tier 2 level, or there just isn't enough room for the player on the roster.

The team is allowed to carry 25 players for the first month of the season and then the teams have to trim that roster down to 23 players. No matter how much you'd love to keep everyone, it's just not possible.

Another reason might come from the player himself. Players can and do ask to be released from a team. We as fans like to think that every player would love to play for our team, but that's just not the case. Sure, players love to play in a city where there is support for the hockey team, but these players have the goal of committing to colleges. Sometimes to obtain that goal, it's best if they move on.

If a player isn't getting a lot of ice time they might ask to be released, especially if the player is in his last season of junior eligibly. He wants to get the best looks from colleges and if he's not playing he won't be seen.

Again, a player might not fit the system. If you look at the NHL, a player like  Pavel Datsyuk would not fit playing for a team like the Philadelphia Flyers. He just doesn't play their style of hockey.

Some players get home sick, that's just a fact. Sometimes they ask to be released so they can play closer to home.

These are only a couple of examples.

Currently the Tomahawks have 10 players that are 1993 birth years. This mean they will not be playing junior hockey next season. Guys like Hall, Watt, and Reinholz, no matter how much we like them, won't be around much longer.

The thing I've learned is to enjoy watching the players that are currently playing. I do this for both sides. We all have our favorites and that's fine. Who knows, you might be watching a player that will some day play in the NHL.

If you beat yourself up too much when a player leaves, then it only makes sense you probably won't be able to last to long as a fan of junior hockey, as there is always a new player moving in and an old player moving out.

But if you understand that player movements are part of the game, and they can benefit both sides (teams and players), it can make dealing with those movements a lot better.

Numbers:

Here are the number of players that were traded, released, or called up last year, team by team, in the north division. Some times it might feel like we're the only ones making moves but really, every team makes moves, and it's usually a lot during the long season.

Soo- 20
Jamestown- 11
Kalamazoo- 13
Port Huron- 18
Johnstown- 13
Springfield- 19
Janesville- 23
Michigan- 14