|New Tomahawks' goalie, Andrei Tikhomirov|
Just like it is every season in junior hockey, the roster has seen a major turn over. Most players from last season's team have moved onto the college ranks or up to the USHL, like Ryan Bednard and Luke Lynch, who are with the Phantoms.
With the exhibition season underway and the regular season approaching quickly I wanted to share some thoughts on the players I'm looking most forward to seeing on the ice this season, for one reason or another. I've selected six, but there is a ton more talent on this 2015-2016 roster that I could have easily picked.
Out of the six players I chose, three are returning players from last year's Tomahawks' team, and three players are new to the team. Let's get started. This list is in no particular order.
1. Steven Quagliata (D)
Steven is entering his second season with Johnstown. Last year, in his rookie season, he appeared in 48 games for the Tomahawks, scoring 23 points (3 goals, 20 assists) and had 10 penalty minutes. He ranked ninth on the team in scoring and was first among the defenseman core.
Steven is a good skating defenseman who plays a pretty solid two-way game. Last season he had a plus minus rating of -5. The closest player that you could compare him to, of a past Johnstown player in my eyes would be, Casey Nelson. Nelson played for the Tomahawks during their first season in the NAHL. In 56 games, Nelson scored 32 points (10 goals, 22 assists) and was a -6.
Johnstown hasn't had that sort of production from defense since Nelson was on the team. Could Quagliata reach towards those type of numbers this season? I don't see why not. Last season, when Quagliata registered at least one point the Tomahawks had a record of, 9-6-1.
With a season already under his belt, and now becoming one of the veterans on the team, I think his production will only improve, and that's a good thing for Johnstown.
2. Logan Hudson (D)
Hudson was named team captain early into this past off season, and it's much deserved. Hudson not only is a leader on the ice, but he's a leader off. There's nothing flashy about Hudson's game. He's not a guy that's going to put up offensive numbers. In 73 games for Johnstown, he has 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists).
Hudson though, isn't on the team to score goals. No, he's on the team to help prevent them. He's also on the team to keep the opposing players honest. In 73 games with Johnstown, Hudson has racked up a total of 195 penalty minutes. Now don't make a rush to judgment. Hudson is not a goon, and in fact is one of the guys in the league that plays a pretty honest game. You won't see Hudson throwing cheap shots, or going out of his way to run a guy.
That's probably the thing that impresses me the most about Hudson's game. He never is out of position. While there have been some guys on past teams that always seemed to be beat on defense, I can't recall a time when a rushing forward has beat Hudson to the net. What makes that even more impressive is that Hudson isn't the fastest guy on the team, but he knows how be in the right place at the right time.
As stated before, if someone on the other team steps out of line, Hudson has no problem making them pay. This makes him not only a fan favorite but also a favorite amoug his teammates as they know, no matter what happens, he always has their backs.
Hudson is a '95 birth year player and this will be his last season of junior hockey.
3. Alex Alger (F)
A pure offensive threat that the team might have never had before. Alger was traded to Johnstown last season at the NAHL trading deadline. He came from last place Odessa where in 43 games he scored 10 goals, 12 assists, good for 22 points. When he got to Johnstown he put up the exact same numbers, except he did it in only 19 games. On a team that was filled with mostly minus players, Alger was one of only four players that had a plus rating. +1.
What makes Alger a treat to watch is that when the puck is on his stick something always seems to happen. He's a legit scoring threat every time he steps out onto the ice. His brother, Austin, plays a similar style of hockey and reports for camps in the off season were that they showed great on-ice chemistry.
Sadly for the Tomahawks, Austin is currently in camp with the USHL's Omaha Lancers. If he doesn't stick with Omaha he should be sent down to the Tomahawks. But even if the Alger brothers aren't united in Johnstown, Alex Alger still has a ton of talent to play with. Some of those guys are Romano, Seningen, Zajic, Hunter, and Jaquay.
Alger is a '95 birth year player and is committed to play for Miami University (D1) next season.
4. Tiernan Seningen (F)
Seningen was one of the first players that the Tomahawks tendered during the 2014-2015 season. He's a small player standing at only 5'8, but he plays a big game. He spent the last three years playing for the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers. In 106 career games, he scored 102 points. Of all the new players on the Tomahawks roster this season, Seningen comes to town with some of the best scoring stats to date.
With that said, this will be his first season at the Tier Two junior hockey level. It'll be interesting to see if he can adjust to this level of play. Some guys can, and others can't. If Seningen can make the jump and make an impact for the Tomahawks it'll be great to see.
As I've never seen him play in person before, I can only base my judgement on his past stats, but just looking at those, I'm very impressed and excited to see what he might be able to do in a Tomahawks' sweater this upcoming season.
Growing up only about an hour away from Philadelphia and then playing for the Jr. Flyers will probably give him some extra incentive this season to play again Ashton. Ashton, of course, are a new team in the NAHL East Division and play their games in the same arena the Jr. Flyers do.
Seningen is a '97 birth year player.
5. Brendan Jaquay (F)
Jaquay is one of five players that last season played for the Keystone Ice Miners. He's also joined by new Tomahawks' assistant coach, Nick Shackford, who was an assistant coach with the Ice Miners, and before that the Port Huron Fighting Falcons.
Jaquay saw limited action last season due to a season ending injury. He last played back in January. He appeared in 29 games for the Ice Miners scoring 11 points (8 goals, 3 assists) and was a plus 5. Jaquay is a big forward standing at 6'3 202lb. He's one of 13 players on the roster from Pa, calling Lansdale home.
He had one goal vs Johnstown last season.
He's a '95 birth year player.
6. Andrei Tikhomirov (G)
Tikhomirov is one of four goalies on the current Tomahawks' roster. Andrei is one of two foreign players on the roster. Tikhomirov is from Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. The other foreign player is forward, and newcomer, Marc Zajic, who's from the Czech republic.
Tikhomirov stands at 6'2, 200lb. He's a '95 birth year goalie, making his first appearance in North America. Last season he played in the MHL and won the league championship. He appeared in 40 games last season and had a save percentage of .912. To put that into perspective, Bednard last season appeared in 37 games for Johnstown and had a save percentage of .913.
Tikhomirov was selected by the Tomahawks in this past off season's NAHL draft. He was picked in the third round.
Johnstown has four solid goaltenders on their roster and it'll be interesting to see who they keep. Just judging from years past, they'll probably go with three goalies at least to start the season.
Tikhomirov is the only goalie that is a '95 birth year. The others are, Gwillim (97), Burggrabe (97), and DeSimone (96).
There are many other players on the roster that I'm looking forward to seeing play but these are my top six. Do you have a player or players you can't wait to see at the War Memorial? Let us know with a comment below, or tell us on our Facebook and Twitter pages.