|Photo by: Tami Knopsnyder Copyright 2013|
We’re still very early in Johnstown Tomahawks franchise history, and with the junior game only available to kids aged 16-20, rosters will always have high turnover rates. That being said, Johnstown is entering it’s third year in the North American Hockey League and still have a familiar face on the bench (not to mention a fan favorite). His name is Dakota Menslage.
Menslage has been with the team every year since they've been in Johnstown thus far. In 2012-2013 when Alaska relocated to Johnstown, Menslage wasn’t on the opening day roster. It was during the season that the scouts and coaching staff locked eyes on the now 6'4, 210lb defenseman. After becoming one of Johnstown’s first tenders, he joined the team late in the year.
In 2012-2013 he appeared in seven games with Johnstown and had eleven penalty minutes. In his third game in a Tomahawks’ jersey he had his first fight. His opponent that night was Michigan’s Mitchell Wedding. That was the first time Johnstown fan’s saw just what type of player Menslage is; willing to do anything for his team, whether that’s sticking up for his teammates, or now, the deadly shot on the power play.
Menslage is entering his third season with the Tomahawks. Menslage is a ‘95 birth-year player, which means he’d still be eligible to return for one more season. That being said, Menslage can put his name in Tomahawks’ record books this season if he stays healthy. That record? Most games played as a Johnstown Tomahawk.
The current leader in this category is alumni Jordan Watt, at 114 games. Menslage enters the season at 62 games. If he stays healthy he’ll break the record by eight. As we said with high turnover in junior hockey, Menslage’s name might stay up at the top for a while, but I’m sure if you’d ask him, he’d be more proud to say he was part of the first Tomahawks’ team to bring the city a NAHL championship.
Extra: Menslage is fourth all time in penalty minutes with 129. The all-time penalty minute leader is alumni Brandon Reinholz, with 224. With new fighting rules in the NAHL and all USA hockey sanctioned junior hockey leagues this season, don’t expect to see as many tilts as in years past. That will obviously cut down on the penalty minutes. Then again, a rule change isn’t going to stop Menslage from protecting his teammates.