September 27, 2016
Johnstown Tomahawks Impressive So Far and A Look Ahead
The team just finished the 2016 NAHL Showcase with a record of 3-1. The only loss came in the third game of the showcase, vs the Austin Bruins. Austin is a team Johnstown has only played two other times prior, both at the showcase, and both were losses.
Each Tomahawks' goalie picked up a win with League defeating former North Division team, the Springfield Jr. Blues, 6-3.
Left-handed, Vinnie Purpura blanking the Wilderness 3-0, and registering the team's first shutout of the year.
And just arriving, Drew Hotte, played stellar turning away 34 shots in the team's 2-1 win over the Shreveport Mudbugs.
Johnstown has seen some roster movement, as to be expected at this early stage of the season. A few players are no longer listed on the team's roster, via NAHL.com.
Goalie, Ryan Glander. Forward Patrick O'Neal. Defensmen Nick Criminisi, and Bray Crowder.
Those subtractions were to make room for the following additions to the roster.
Forwards Samuel Solensky, Mitchelle Hale, and defensman, Danil Bokun. All three were sent to Johnstown from Youngstown of the USHL. Drew Hotte, who the Tomahawks drafted number one overall in this past season's draft, was another player set down from the USHL, but not from Youngstown.
Solensky and Bokun are both foreign players.
Since being added to Johnstown's roster, Solensky has four points in four games.
The Tomahawks have their first major test this upcoming weekend as they will play two games in Fairbanks Alaska, vs the team that won the NAHL Championship last year. But before we take a look at that, let's give some attention to some of the Tomahawks' who've really been impressive thus far.
To be fair, we could list everyone on the team. Being 5-1, means everyone is doing their jobs and doing them well. I'll just highlight some things you should know.
We're only three weeks into the season and Dalton Hunter has already been East player of the week twice. The only week he wasn't named to be the best player in the East Division was when the Tomahawks didn't play.
Hunter has played the last two season for the Tomahawks and in that time he's been more of a grinding, 3rd and 4th line player. With so many vets moving on from last year's team, which included a ton of skill, Hunter has stepped up into a top spot on this team.
In only six games, he has nine points. Six of those points have been goals, which ties his total from last season. Very impressive. In 2014-2015 Hunter registered 10 points. Last year, 16 points.
Ott has spent the last few season playing on the west coast. During the off-season he was looking to come back as close to home as he could. He's from the Philadelphia area.
He found a home with the Tomahawks after the team selected him in the NAHL draft. Well, that home cooking is doing wonders, as Ott is tied with Hunter in team-leading points, with nine.
He, with Hunter, is tied third in the league in scoring.
I was going to list all three goalies as they've all been impressive so far this season. Once again, the Tomahawks came into the season with goaltending being a question as Andrew Lindgren advanced to college, and Glander, as stated above, is no longer on the roster.
Vinnie Purpura get's singled out here for posting a shutout in only his second game of the season and second game of his junior hockey career.
Buncis has been playing very well with six points in six games. He also was named 2016-2017 Johnstown Tomahawks' team captain.
Buncis is one of the most hard working players on the Tomahawks' roster. This is his 3rd season with the club.
Buncis will be leaving the team for two weeks later in the season, as he did last year, to compete in the Hockey World Juniors for Team Latvia. Last year, Team Latvia won it all, so this year they've moved up in into the A bracket. The A bracket has teams like Canada and team USA.
Great play and honors all around for Buncis.
As I stated earlier, Johnstown will play this weekend in Fairbanks. Fairbanks is always a tough team to play and take two points from. Johnstown has had some success vs Fairbanks, but not last season. Last year they dropped both games vs the Ice Dogs in Fairbanks.
If Johnstown can at least split I think they'll be very happy with that. That being said, taking both games would really show that this team should be a force to be reckoned with all season long.
Currently, Johnstown is tied for first place in the East. They're tied with their cross state rivals, the Aston Rebels. Both teams have 10 points.
The following weekend Johnstown will play three games vs Kenai River Brown Bears. The Brown Bears had a horrible season last year with a league worst 4-51-5 record. They appear to have not gotten any better this year. So far they have a record of 0-3-1 and have allowed 15 goals, while only scoring 6.
After playing the Brown Bears, the team will come back East and play the newest team in the division the Northest Generals. This will also be a three game set. The Generals still don't have a win on the season, as they are 0-5.
The Johnstown Tomahawks could find themselves with a really impressive record going in to play the Aston Rebels in Aston, on October 28th and 29th.
You never want to get to cocky, cause that's when you always get knocked down a few pegs, but Johnstown could very well have a record of 12-2-0 after these next three weeks.
Time will tell.
With the way the team is playing, it has everyone in Johnstown asking the question, "Is it November yet?". The home opener can't get here soon enough.
Today the War Memorial is having a free public skate to checkout the new renovations that have taken place this past off-season. The event is from 6pm to 8pm.
Let's go Hawks!