September 10, 2015

Tomahawks Have to Dominate, Not Be Dominated

This season the Johnstown Tomahawks will be playing in a new division and facing brand new teams, well at least new cities. Gone from the league and/or their division are the Michigan Warriors, Soo Eagles, Keystone Ice Miners, Janesville Jets, and the Springfield Jr Blues.

The Janesville Jets and Springfield Jr. Blues are still in the NAHL, but will now play in the Midwest division. The Michigan Warriors were going to move to Brooklyn New York, but those plans, at least for the 2015-2016 season fell through. The Warriors left Flint because the city got a higher level junior hockey team, the Flint Firebirds of the OHL.

The closest team to Johnstown last season, the Keystone Ice Miners, folded. Smartly, the Tomahawks picked up a handful of their players for the upcoming season. The Soo Eagles moved to New Jersey to become the Jr. Titans, a team that will be in Johnstown's division this year.

The two new teams joining the East division are, the Wilkes Barre/Scanton Knights, who are an expansion team, and the Aston Rebels who relocated to Pa from Texas. Last season Aston was known by the name of the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees. Along with the move up north and into the NAHL East division, they brought a handful of their Killer Bees' roster.

So, this season the Tomahawks are in the league's smallest division, with only four teams. This means that for most of the season, Johnstown will be playing the same three teams over and over again. Before we get into that and what this article is all about, Johnstown will play four out of division teams at the NAHL Showcase. They will also travel to Alaska again this season to play both Alaskan teams. Later, those two teams will make the journey to Johnstown.

Now, playing the same three teams in the division will undoubtedly build huge rivalries. It'll be like playoff hockey, every night. For a fan that'll be fun to see. Though the downside for fans is that you'll be seeing so much of the same team, night in and night out things might get a little stale.

The bad thing with playing the same three teams over and over again is that if the Tomahawks struggle against a certain team (and god forbid two) it'll be a very long and painful season. In years past the Tomahawks had their troubles vs. the Port Huron Fighting Falcons. When Port Huron moved to Keystone last season, Keystone really had the upper hand on Johnstown.  Johnstown finished the season 3-6-3 vs Keystone.

Last year, the North division had six teams, counting the Tomahawks. Though you don't want to struggle against anyone, having one team you can't beat out of five is better than one team you can't beat out of three.

This weekend the Tomahawks play two exhibition games against Aston. Not only will it be a good time to face a team in their division and see how they stack up again them, but it'll also give them a shot to inflict some early damage on the in-division foe.

In the regular season the Tomahawks will play Aston, New Jersey, and Wilkes-Barre each 16 times. This has to be the season Johnstown has the upper hand on at least two teams in the division or it's going to be a painful year.

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