May 27, 2014

Tomahawks' Make Trade, Get Ready for First Tryout This Weekend, and NAHL Draft

This upcoming weekend the Johnstown Tomahawks will hold their first tryout of the off-season. This pre-draft tryout will take place in Mt. Clemens, MI on May 31-June 1st. Then the Tomahawks will participate in the 2014 NAHL Draft on June 3rd.

The Tomahawks will have the 9th overall draft pick in the first round. Last season the Tomahawks’ had five picks, all of which then went on to play for the Tomahawks during the regular season. This time around the Tomahawks will only have one pick in the draft.

The team traded away their other draft pick to the Coulee Region Chill for forward veteran Cam Bleck.

Bleck is heading into his fourth and final season in the NAHL. The last two years he played for the Chill. Last season he appeared in 56 games scoring 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists). In 2012-2013 he appeared in 32 scoring 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists). Bleck broke into the league with the Topeka Roadrunners the year before, playing in 11 games and scoring 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists).

Bleck stands at 5’7, 165lb and is from Lake Forests IL.

He is describe as a great locker room guy who has some good offensive skill.

The Tomahawks’ staff is looking forward to this first tryout of the off-season and say that the camp has filled up very well. Just like last off-season, there should be some exciting talent showcasing their skills in hopes to win an invitation to the Tomahawks main camp in July.

Last season’s first tryout saw players like Shane Bednard, Alex Jaeckle, Shane Cuckovich, and Brett Young, attend the pre-draft tryout and then go on to not only play for the Tomahawks but have a big impact on the team during it’s second season in the NAHL.

For more information on the NAHL draft click here.


May 15, 2014

Three Things the Tomahawks' New Coach Will Have to Address

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.


2. Discipline


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.


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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!



May 7, 2014

Port Huron to Relocate into Tomahawks' Backyard

Distance between Johnsotwn and Connellsville
In the Tomahawks' first two season in the NAHL, their biggest rival has been the Port Huron Fighting Falcons. Now it appears that the rivialry is going to be amped up even more for the 2014-2015 season.

Juniorhockey.com is reporting that the Fighting Falcons are leaving Port Huron and making their new home in Connellsville Pa. Yes, the Connellsville that's only an hour and twenty minutes southwest of Johnstown.

You can see the whole article on Juniorhockey.com here. There hasn't been an official announcement on the move by the NAHL or Port Huron as of yet.

This is good news for the Tomahawks as they once again have a close team they will travel to often. After Jamestown Ironmen folded, which was only about three and a half hours away, Johnstown had to travel at least six hours for the next closest team (Michigan). Now with Port Huron moving into Johnstown's back yard, a more heated rivalry will unfold for years to come.

The team will be named the Keystone Ice Miners (or Keystone Miners) and play at the Ice Mine of Connellsville that holds about 4,000 fans.

Johnstown and Connellsville will now compete for some of the same local players in the area, which means Johnstown has to have a better team in the next few years to attract those area players.

Johnstown and Connellsville should be far enough apart where the two teams should not be competing for fans, but let's not leave that up to chance.

Port Huron had terrible attendance numbers, so what do they do, they move their team as close to Johnstown hoping the same type of numbers will happen to them.

We've seen first hand in Johnstown you need a great front office staff for that to happen. You also have to have players that interact with their community, and have a team that wins games on the ice.

Johnstown has done all three things (we have had two winning seasons), and now must do even better, if nothing more than to have Pa bragging rights during the season.

I'm sure many fans will make several trips to Connellsville throughout the season, and we're glad that there's a team now reasonably close to Johnstown.

This is Tomahawks' country. Time to start marking our territory.

Update: The Junior Hockey News has their own story on Port Huron's relocation and they report that a press conference will take place this Friday announcing the relocation to Connellsville.

May 6, 2014

Four Tomahawks Selected in the USHL Draft

The USHL held their draft yesterday and today. In total four Tomahawks' players were selected by three different teams in the draft.

These players will still be able to play in Johnstown, but the teams that drafted them hold their rights for the Tier one level.

Last season Cody Boyd, Andrew McDonald, Cody Gylling, and JB Baker were drafted in the USHL. Andrew McDonald played all last season with his drafted team.

So who are the players that got selected this year?

The highest pick in the draft was Shane Bednard who was selected by the newest team in the USHL, the Bloomington Thunder in the first round (9th pick overall).

Tomahawks' tender Steven Quagliata was selected in the 12th round by the Bloomington Thunder as well, 192nd overall pick.

Current Johnstown Tomahawks' tender Zach Zech was selected by the Muskegon Lumberjacks in the 15th round (238th overall).

In the 22nd round the Sioux City Musketeers picked Tommy Hall, 357th overall.

You can see every pick here.

Here is the Tomahawks' press release with more information and quotes from Shane Bednard.

Congrats to all three players selected from the Tomahawks roster. It was a no brainier that Shane Bednard was going to be picked, and it's great to see him go in the first round.

If we had to guess, we'd say he probably plays the whole season next year in the USHL.

May 5, 2014

Another Tomahawks' Forward to Play College Hockey Next Season

Tami Knopsnyder 2014 copyright
During this past season, three Tomahawks' players made college commitments. Shane Bednard, Alex Jaeckle, and Matt Meier. Now at the end of the season another Tomahawks' player will take his game to the college level next year.

Jordan Watt will play D3 hockey at Neumann University.

Watt played two seasons in Johnstown, and both seasons was a top scorer for the team. In 2012-2013, he was third in scoring on the Tomahawks roster with 37 points (20 goals, 17 assists). This past season Watt was fifth in scoring on the Tomahawks' roster with 34 points (22 goals, 12 assists).

His most memorial game(s) this past year was his back-to-back hat trick games vs. the Michigan Warriors and then the Wenatchee Wild.

Before joining the Tomahawks, Watt played for the Alaska Avalanche for one season in 2011-2012. Appearing in 45 games, he registered 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists).

Watt also had some Major Junior experience as he started his junior hockey career in the QMHL with Victoriaville Tigres. He appeared in eleven games but did not register any points.

Neumann University is located in Aston University which is about 20 miles south-west of Philidelphia Pa.

Currently, there is three former NAHL players on the Knights roster.

Part of the ECAC, the Knights, were Champions in 2012-2013 season and had reached the postseason with long runs since 2006, last season though they finished with a record of 9-12-5.

Good luck to Jordan Watt and we'll be keeping our eyes on Watt has he continues chasing his hockey dreams.

May 2, 2014

Former Tomahawks' Forward Headed to D1

He played almost a full season with the Tomahawks after being picked up in a trade with the Fresno Falcons last season. This year he played a full season in the USHL.

Just this week he announced that he would be moving his game once again, this time to College Division 1 level to play for Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts next season.

That player? Speedy forward Andrew McDonald. In 45 games with Johnstown in 2012-2013 McDonald scored 22 points (12 goals and 10 assists). This season with the Fargo Force he appeared in 53 games scoring 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists).

Bentley plays games against Amry and Air Force which both have Tomahawks' commitments playing there in the coming years. Cody Boyd will be playing for Army, while Jaeckle and Meier will be playing for Air Force.

We wish Andrew luck and will be keeping everyone updating on his college career along with all the other Tomahawks' during the season with our Alumni weekly stat updates.