Shortly the Johnstown Tomahawks will announce their new head coach for the 2014-2015 season. The team is looking for someone that can build on the team’s success that they’ve already had while pushing them further into a promising future.
In the Tomahawks first two seasons they’ve made the playoffs twice, but haven’t moved past the first round. Total they have a playoff record of 1-5. In regular season play they have a record of 55-48-17, all under former head coach Jason Spence.
So what are the three things that this new head coach will have to improve upon, in our eyes?
1. Special Teams
Last season the Tomahawks finished 11th on the power play and 23rd on the penalty kill out of the 24 teams in the league. The power play during the season had it’s ups and downs but for the most part it wasn’t the power play that held the Tomahawks back from winning more games.
The penalty kill on the other hand was down right terrible last season only being able to kill off 79% of their penalties. This means that the opposing teams had a success rate of 21% on the power play vs. Johnstown.
In 2012-2013 the Tomahawks penalty kill was 14th overall (84.82%).
In total the Tomahawks gave up 181 goals this past season, second most in the division. 59 of those goals where on the penalty kill. That’s about 33% of the goals scored against Johnstown was during a penalty kill.
On the other side of things for perspective, Johnstown scored a total of 167 goals as a team, 4th in the division. 37 of those on the power play (22%). The team had 6 shorthanded goals and 124 even strength goals.
If the new head coach can solve Johnstown’s penalty killing troubles, you will see more wins for the Tomahawks this upcoming season.
Discipline and penalty killing really go hand in hand. Johnstown hockey is all about being tough, hard working, in your face hockey. That style of hockey is played on a fine line, and you have to be careful of not crossing it which leads to penalties.
Last season the Tomahawks lead the North Division in penalty minutes 1130. Playing a schedule that is heavy on in-division play, leading your division in penalty minutes, while having a bad penalty kill is going to hurt you, which it did for the Tomahawks.
The new head coach will have to teach the players how to play hard nosed hockey while not crossing the line, going over the edge.
Once again, if Johnstown can find a way to play physical without taking dump penalties it’ll only make the team better.
3. Playing for 60 minutes
How many times did you see the team not play a full game last season? Maybe they showed up for the first period, trailed off in the second, and turned it on late in the third period.
Now think of when the team played hard for a whole game. What happened? Yes, they dominated. This new coach has to have his team more prepared to play a full 60 minutes. Mike Letizia and Rick Boyd have done a good job finding some really talented players (Shane Bednard, Jordan Watt, Matt Meier, Mitch Hall, Alex Jaeckle) just to name a few.
We saw many times this season when the team out worked and out played other teams for a full 60-minutes, like the Michigan Warriors.
Though we saw when the team didn’t show up vs. those same teams the Tomahawks’ got thoroughly outplayed. Again this new coach needs to improve the teams play night in and night out. (consistency)
With hard working players (Cuckovich, Drabin, Wallace) and talented players, the Tomahawks have a good mix of players. New players for this season (tenders) will only build on that hard-working talent level.
The Tomahawks can be an elite team in the NAHL this season, and for years to come, but they must learn to play 60-minutes, every game.
If the team can do that, not only will the 2014-2015 season be a memorable one, but they should make a deep playoff run, past the first round.
Share your thoughts with a comment on this post, or on our twitter/facebook page about what you think the team needs to improve on this upcoming season.
The Tomahawks’ first tryout (pre-draft tryout) is coming up May 30- June 1st which will be followed by the NAHL 2014 Draft which takes place on June 3rd.
We will have live coverage of the draft. (details coming up in a new post very soon).
Let’s go Hawks!