November 13, 2017

Tomahawks With an Almost Perfect Weekend (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Weekend Thoughts)

The Johnstown Tomahawks did something this weekend they haven't been able to do all season long thus far; win a series, picking up three points out of four.

Johnstown has now gotten at least one point from the Knights the last three times they've played against them.

Next weekend the Tomahawks head to the road where they'll face the WB/Scranton Knights once again for a two-game set.


After a terrible start to the season, Johnstown has begun to claw themselves back to a respectable record and hopefully a playoff spot. The Tomahawks are 3-5-1-1 in their last 10 games after starting the season 2-12-0.

Currently the Hawks sit in last place in the East Division standings with 12 points. Ahead of them, New Jersey Titans with 22 points, Philadelphia Rebels with 26 points, Northeast Generals with 28 points, and WB/Scranton with 29 points.

WB/Scranton currently is the best team in the league, though this weekend they didn't really look like it through this writer's eyes.

Are the Knights not as good as their record indicates or are the Tomahawks starting to get their game together? I think it's a little of both.

On Friday night, it was a close checking, low scoring game, with the biggest play coming with only .2 seconds left in regulation. With the Tomahwks down by a goal, and the goalie pulled, this happened...


Just last season if this happened at the War Memorial this goal probably wouldn't have counted as the old scoreboard didn't keep track of the milliseconds on the clock. Luckily, the War Memorial's new scoreboard, does include milliseconds, which clearly showed that the Tomahawks scored the game-tying goal just with time left on the clock.

While both teams exchanged chances in overtime, neither team could end things and it took a shootout to find a winner. The best-of-three round shootout took an addition four shooters (seven rounds total) before the Knights won the game on a goal from Gabe Temple.

It would have been the perfect ending for Johnstown to find a way to win this game, but having a team desperate to pick up points, at least that's what the Hawks were able to do on Friday night.

On Saturday, it was another tight-checking, defensive game, with both team's goalie's making big saves at key times. Britt League faced 28 shots and turned every single one of them away as he picked up his first shutout of the season, and first as a Tomahawk.

This was also the Tomahawks first shutout of the year as a team.

Britt League was also in net on Friday night where he faced 38 shots and made 36 saves. With such a great performance over the weekend, the NAHL named Leauge the East Division Player of the Week.

Fellow Tomahawks' player, Christian Gorscak was named 2nd star.

Something that really wasn't a factor this past weekend was the refereeing. All in all, I thought that the official did a good job.  Anthony Opanowski, the ref who did both games this weekend, reminded me of an old school ECHL ref like, Joe Ernst.

Mr. Opanowski let both teams play and hardly called anything. Now, you might not like that, and sure there were times when a guy got tripped, or hooked, or board (both ways) and it wasn't called when it could have been, but he was consistent and make those calls for either team.

There wasn't that much rough stuff that happened between the two teams this weekend either. As fans, we're so use to seeing Philadelphia, New Jersey, Northeast games get, at points, out of control, but I can't really remember a game where that sort of thing happens against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

The Knights head coach, Tom Kowal, is also one of the only coaches that I've seen come into Johnstown and not consistently scream at his players and the refs.

There was some chirping in between the benches this weekend, but that kind of stuff always happens when you're playing such an emotional game like hockey. It definitely wasn't like the prior weekend vs the Titans. The yelling, trash-talking, and goating was never ending on both sides, most of which can't be repeating on a blog like this one without heavy censoring.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that even though those in your face, hard hitting, fight filled, rivalry games are exciting to watch and be a part of, it's also nice to just watch two teams play hockey and rely on skill and hard work to win the game.

Out of all the teams Johnstown plays, the Knights are probably the one team I don't hate. Philadelpha and the rest of the division, well, that could be another entire blog post of it's own.

The team really is starting to play better and it's showing in the standings. The Tomahawks have a ton of work to still do and it's going to take 100% effort each and every night from now until the end of the season to work out of the hole they put themselves in at the start of the year, but it's doable.

The Hawks have two games this weekend vs Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. They'll be off the following week for Thanksgiving Holiday. They'll then host the Titans for three more games, and then the Knights again for two. That's fourteen points up for grabs.

The Tomahwks have a real good chance of putting themselves right there with the rest of the division come the middle of December.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 3 Johnstown 2 F/SO (Boxscore) (press release)
Johnstown 3 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 0 F (Boxscore) (press release)

P.S. The Tomahawks had a very big crowd on Saturday night. It was reported as 3,038 fans. Overall, the NAHL lists Johnstown as 5th in league attendance averaging 2,116 fans at home. This is not exactly correct as they're factoring in the two home games at the showcase towards the attendance. If you take out those two games the Tomahawks are actually averaging 2,086 fans at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria War Memorial.




November 6, 2017

Recap: Johnstown vs New Jersey Weekend Series; Ref Rant




Another weekend of hockey is in the books and the Tomahawks found themselves only winning one of three games. If you just look at the stat sheet you might be thinking, "same old, same old," but for those at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial they saw something different. They saw a team battling. Improving. One bounce (and a fair ref) away from having that 1-2 record turning the other way.





The weekend didn't start off great as the Tomahawks dropped Friday's game by the score of 6-3. Out of the nine goals that were scored in the game, six of them were on special teams. One was an empty netter.

The Tomahawks didn't look terrible and actually out-shot the Titans in the game, 39-34. It was just one of those games that things didn't go right for the Tomahawks, and a couple breakdowns cost them the game.

On Saturday, the Tomahawks and Titans had a physical affair. In total, the teams would combine for a total of 121 penalty minutes.

The turning point of the game came in the second period with the Tomahawks down a goal, 2-1. Chris Trouba carried the puck along the boards on the penalty box wall when he was checked from behind by Titans' forward, Oliver MacDonald. The hit, which the referee called correctly in this instance, lead to the Tomahawks having a five-minute power play.

Before the players came out onto the ice to start the power play the Tomahawks bench was making sure that everyone wearing a white sweater knew that this was the moment they had to get back at the Titans, not with their fists (this time) but on the scoreboard.

Players yelling to each other things like "this is our shot" and "time to make them pay, boys," were just a few things you could hear the players verbalizing from over the glass.

It wasn't just all talk. The Tomahawks followed through and in the span of five minutes scored three goals to not only give them the lead, but eventually the win.

First, it was Solensky to hammer a puck past goaltender Matt Ladd to tie the game at two.

Then, little more than a minute later, Andy Nedejkovic would give the Tomahawks the lead.

Less than a minutes later, Kile would bury a puck in the back of the net to put the Tomahawks up by two, a very important marker as New Jersey would pull within one early in the third period.

After New Jersey's Spencer Stanley scored his first goal of the season bringing the score to 4-3 Johnstown, the Tomahawks found themselves having to kill several penalties throughout the remainder of the game.

At one point the Tomahawks even had to deal with a 5-on-3 penalty kill.

Having the leagues worst penalty kill, only killing 66% percent of their odd-man advantages, the Tomahawks did anything and everything they could to maintain the lead.

Players like, Andrew Andary laid his body on the line blocking several shots from reaching the net.

When a puck did manage to find it's way though the heavy traffic in front, Britt League was equal to the task.

Overall, League faced 30 New Jersey shots, 15 of which came in the third period, but other than the early goal, League didn't crack and in standing tall picked up his first win of the season.

This was Johnstown's fourth win overall this season and marked head coach Mike Letizia's 100th win behind the Tomahawks bench.

On Sunday, the same two teams went to battle once again. It was a tight checking, low scoring affair. At times, tempers were starting to boil and usually it was New Jersey's Tate Singleton, scorer and agitator that was in the middle of the chipping.

While both teams only had ten minutes of penalties each, it didn't mean that there wasn't penalty worthy things happening on the ice. But, as it seems to always be the case, the referees turned a blind eye to it, especially when it would have resulted in a Johnstown man advantage.

I'm not one to jump on a ref after every call that's made against the hometown team. In most cases, whether fans like it or not, when a penalty is called it's usually granted. Though there were a few calls this weekend that left not only myself scratching my head, but many of the fans in attendace.

One example came on Saturday night after a New Jersey player was caught with a high stick. The Tomahawks player was whistled for the high-sticking minor and sent to the box for two minutes.

Minutes after calling the penalty, but before the puck was dropped, the ref was refereed to the Titans bench to inspect the high-sticked player's neck. Seeing a scratch on the player, which was only pointed out to him after the player had gone to the bench and had the trainer start working on him, did the ref change his mind and turned his minor into a double minor.

Another example came on Sunday when Jack Leavy made a save and then covered up the puck only to be ran into. Of course, when something like this happens, there's going to be some rough stuff that happens to that player. Somehow, instead of Johnstown getting a four minute power play, they only go two, when Johnstown was given a minor for roughing.

Then, the turning point of Sunday's game.

New Jersey's Gavin Gulash wrapped the puck around Johnstown's net and appeared to score as indicated by his celebrating. The light never went on because for whatever reason, there wasn't a goal judge at that net for this game.

The ref, who by the time got to the net for a good view of the puck, the puck was already down the ice.

Talking with his fellow linesmen and neither of them seeming to know what happened, the ref awarded the goal which put New Jersey up 2-1, which would become the final score.

A team that's having a tough season as it is doesn't need it to be even that much tougher when the guys in charge of keeping things fair seem to "have it out" for the Hawks.

You'd think, the team that leads the division in attendance by thousands, which can only help the league's bottom line (I mean there's NO way teams like Philadelphia, New Jersey, Northeast, WB/Scranton are making any money), and has a strong ownership group which includes Rick Bouchard listed as a 2017-18 NAHL Executive Committee member, get the right call, let's say - right every once in a while at least?

But what is done is done and the Tomahawks will have to refocus as the Knights come into Johnstown this upcoming weekend for two games.

The Knights are currently one point behind Northeast (who they swept last weekend) and overall are the second best team in the NAHL. The Tomahawks will have their hands full, but last time they played the Knights the Tomahawks were able to pick up a point in overtime.

After starting the season 2-12-0 the Tomahawks are 2-4-1 in their last 7 games. Things do look to be on the upswing for the Hawks. Let's hope they can continue that trend this weekend.

November 2, 2017

Tomahawks Back Home With A Handful of New Faces




The Johnstown Tomahawks are back at home this weekend as they take on the New Jersey Titans. In fact, they'll be home for a lot of games in the next couple of months as their next 19 of 23 games will take place at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial.

The Tomahawks currently have the second worst record in the NAHL at 3-14-1 good for 7 points. The worst team, currently the Coulee Region Chill, have 6 points, but they've also played 7 fewer games.




Though this is the worst start any Tomahawks' team has had in their six year history, they do hold a record of 1-2-1 in their last four games. With some roster moves made last week, the team is starting to play a bit better. This is a perfect time to start playing home games.

Since the last time Johnstown stepped on the ice, the team has mutually parted ways with assistant coach, Nick Shackford. The team has also added the following players to the roster:

Jack Leavy - Goalie
Donovan Ott - Forward
Carson Briere - Forward
Andy Nedeljkovic - Forward
Pavel Kharin - Forward
Toby Sengvongxay - Defensman

No longer on the roster:

Vinnie Purpura - Goalie
Jack Faulkner - Goalie
Hunter Carrick - Defensman
Matyas Kacirek - Forward
Michael McCosh - Forward

So, as you can see there are a lot of new faces in the lineup to get use to, as well as two last names to learn how to pronounce (Nedeljkovic and Sengvongxay).

While everyone can agree that this season hasn't started the way Johnstown wanted things to go, it's not time to throw in the towel either.

New Jersey currently holds a record of 7-4-1-1 with 16 points. That's good for fourth place, the last playoff spot in the division. This weekends three-game-set, has six points up for grabs. If Johnstown can find a way to win all three games, they'd only be three points behind New Jersey. Is this doable? Why not?

Johnstown ended their 12-game winless streak on Sunday night when they beat Philadelphia 3-1. The weekend before, they played two close games with WB/Scranton and took one of the games to overtime, earning them a point in the OT loss.

New Jersey is riding a two game losing streak coming into the weekend as they dropped both games last weekend to the Northeast Generals (one was an overtime loss).

Even if Johnstown can win two-out-of-three you can call the weekend a success. With most of the remaining games of the season all taking place vs other East Division teams, beating teams like New Jersey that sits just ahead of Johnstown in the standings is very important.

One face you won't be seeing in a Titan jersey is former Johnstown Tomahawks' forward, Tiernan Seningen. He was released by the team on October 20, 2017. In six games with the Titans this year he had one goal.

How do you think the Tomahawks will do this weekend? Going to any of the games this weekend? Talk about it and anything else hockey related over at our message boards. www.thetomablogmb.com

Extra: Here is a video from the Philadelphia Rebels showing their highlights on Monday night's game where forward Aaron Maguyon scored four of the Rebels six goals. I haven't posted it so we can see those goal, but instead to show you the "lighting" or lack thereof in the new arena they're playing in this year.

Is it brighter there in person or is it really this dark on the ice?







October 25, 2017

Ott Returns to Johnstown; Team Adds Veteran Goalie




Today the Johnstown Tomahawks made two transactions. The first saw the return of high-scoring forward, Donovan Ott from the USHL. In a separate move, the Tomahawks acquired goalie, Jack Leavy from the Wilderness of the USHL.




Jack Leavy spent last season with the Aston Rebels where he posted a record of 13-1-2 and a save percentage of .921.

Leavy returned to the Rebels at the beginning of this current season but only played in two games for Philadelphia before being traded to the Wilderness.  In those two games, he went 2-0-0 with a save percentage of .933.

With the Wilderness, Leavy only played one game, which he lost and recorded a save percentage of .778.

Leavy is a big goalie standing at 6'5 205lb. He's also a 1997 birth year player.

Leavy joins a Tomahawks' team that currently has Purpura and League as goalies as well.

The other big news today is the return of forward Donovan Ott. Ott was third on the team in scoring last year, recording 57 points in 57 games.

This year, Ott was playing for the USHL's Muskegon Lumberjacks where he appeared in 5 games, but didn't have any points.

Having Ott returning to the Tomahawks give them a big boost and just might be the thing they need to end this franchise high losing streak.

The Tomahawks are on the road again this weekend as Johnstown visits Philadelphia for a pair of games.


October 17, 2017

Opinion: Tomahawks are Bad but Fixable



Over the weekend the Tomahawks finally got to play a couple home games. Though it was a change of pace from all the away games to begin the season, the final results were still the same. After dropping Saturday's game, 4-0, and then losing again on Sunday, 5-1, the Tomahawks are now on a 10-game losing streak.

It was hard to judge how the team played when they were on the road, as watching online vs in-person are two totally different experiences. After finally getting to see this year's team in person, it's safe to say one thing; they're pretty bad.



You can jump to quick statements in defending the reasons why the Tomahawks currently have a record of 2-12-0.

"This is the youngest team we've ever had."

"They're still getting use to playing with each other."

"Having no preseason games hurt them in being prepared for the season."

The these statments could go on and on.

The truth is, while the things stated above might lead to losses in the first couple weeks of the season, it's not what's causing the team to continue to lose.

So what is? 

Well, it'll be quicker to layout what isn't first.

Goaltending

If there's three guys you can feel bad for on the Tomahawks roster it's the three guys standing in the blue crease for the Hawks.

While, Purpura, Faulkner, and League all have save percentages below .900, they’ve kept the Tomahawks in games for as long as possible, and have given the team chances to stay in games and make things happen.

On Saturday, Purpura stood on his head at times, keeping the Tomahawks within striking distance of Philadelphia, but no matter how well Purpura played the Tomahawks didn’t score, and you can’t win if you don’t score.

On Sunday, League only faced 14 shots. He still allowed five goals. One was a breakaway (after the no penalty call knee-on-knee hit that lead to the breakaway). One was a freak “own goal”. Another was a redirection in front, a goalie's nightmare.

Take those out of the equation, and the Tomahawks only lose, 2-1. If they’d capitalize on some of their chances, this could have gone in the win column for the Hawks.

Effort

I’d say for the most part, the effort from the Tomahawks is there. Even when the score was 5-1 in the late stages of Sunday’s game, the players on the Hawks’ bench were still chattering with each other, staying positive, and pushing to try and end the game on a positive note.

Throughout both games, players were blocking shots, dishing out hits, fighting, even when they were behind. I’d say the effort is there.

That’s one of the good things about this level of hockey.

If Johnstown still had the Chiefs in town and they held a record of 2-12-0 effort would be something you’d definitively have to question. How many times did we, as fans, see the Chiefs not show up for games? How many players did we see seem to be going through the motions?

With the Tomahawks’, you don’t see that and there’s two main reason’s why. 

1. They’re playing the game because they love it, not because they’re getting paid to. 2. Every game, every shift matters when you’re looking for a college scholarship.

Even when the game is out of reach you can expect to see players giving it everything they’ve got. Scouts want to see what a player is made of when the deck is stacked against them. They want to see that never quit attitude. Calling it in could mean the difference between a D1 and D3 college commit, or even getting one at all.

There are times when it appears like the effort isn’t there, but I think there might be another reason for this, and that takes us to the reasons I believe the team keeps losing.

Systems

It’s been mentioned on Facebook, Twitter, and even the message boards that it some times looks like the players on the Hawks aren’t sure what they’re suppose to be doing.
I think that’s most obvious when they’re in their defensive zone.

There’s no speed when retrieving pucks down low. When the D-men get the puck they either softly give the puck away or just flip it sky-high down the ice.

Then there’s all the times that the D-men have the puck behind the net and start to glide out, trying to move the puck forward, and you hear screams from the coaching staff yelling for the player to “skate!”.

How many times do you hear the opposing team’s coaches have to tell their players to move the puck up the ice or where to go? I could count on one hand, or less.

This tells me that there’s either not a true system in place, or the players aren’t prepared enough to know what exactly they should be doing. This is fixable, and making sure it gets corrected should be something the Tomahawks have done before the next game.

Turn Overs

After giving up the fourth goal on Saturday night, Purpura, a calm player in net, showed some emotion as he took the puck out of his net. The goal stemmed from another terrible, in close, turn over.

How many times this weekend did we see the Tomahawks turn the puck over at the circles from bad passing?

Turning the puck over at the hash marks, against teams like the Rebels will always come back to hurt you and it did.

From the lowest Mite levels to the NHL, you should never throw the puck into the middle of the ice of your own defensive zone, unless you want to get burned. This is something the Tomahawks did time and time again. It’s something that they’ve done all season so far.

If the Tomahawks can correct this and begin to move their feet and use their speed on the back-end to move the puck up the ice, you’ll see the goals against start to go down.

Nowhere to skate the puck to? Hard clears off the glass or along the wall is another route to go. But these middle of the ice plays are killing the Tomahawks.

Offense

The Tomahawks have only scored 21 goals in 14 games this season. One of those games the Tomahawks scored 5 goals (Showcase game vs Aberdeen).

Last year’s team was the best built team I think the Tomahawks have ever put together and obviously the record showed that.

Up front, the team had a perfect mix of skill and grit.

Solensky, Ott, Bruce, Hunter, Rowan, Buncis, are just a few of the highly skilled forwards the Hawks had.

Mixed with them were players like, Biasillo, Kile, Hale, Horn, Norman, that had grit. Players that complimented the more skilled players. They had a job to do. Hit, grind, retrieve pucks, kill penalties, and so on. They did it perfectly.

On defense you had a great balance of offensive defensemen with defensive defensemen.

Pileqicz, Bokun, Iehle, Quetell, helped push the offensive game.

Hirka, Trouba, Young, helped shut things down.

This year’s team however feels like there’s too many of the same types of players.

There’s not many true offensive threats, at least at this point in the season. David and Ben, Schmidling, Solensky are the ones that come to mind.

Furey, White, Singley, Groton, Hale, Kile, Kacirek are all guys that seem to be filling the grinder type of rules (just to name a few).

Kile and Hale are great grinding types of players who compliment higher skilled players. Kile is currently leading the team in points (5, all goals). Hale 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists). See the issue?

On defense there’s too many defensive defensemen and not enough offensive types of guys.

With that said, Trouba, Carrick, Davidson, Del Ponte, Quetell all have great looking shots.
With such few scoring threats (at this point in the season) upfront, Tomahawks should tweak their system to generate more offense from their defensive unit.

On Sunday, the only goal came after Carrick fired a shot from the blue line that Singley was able to redirect.

Though the Tomahawks didn’t score a power play goal in either game this past weekend, the power play generated several great chances from generating shots from the blue line and then battling in front for rebounds.

Tomahawks should encourage their d-men to fire the canons they have and let their more, grinding type of forwards, to do what they do best, and get those dirty goals.

I think this is something that can help the Tomahawks kick start their offense. Once some of these forwards start scoring Patric Hornqvist type of goals, it’ll boost their confidence and in turn should kick-start the scoring.

In Conclusion

The Tomahawks shouldn’t try playing like they did last season, because that isn’t the team we have this year. This team should focus on the grinding, dirty, hardworking style of play.

Johnstown needs to stop giving up the puck in the middle of the ice, especially in their defensive zone.

If they can do this and continue to get pretty good goaltending, Johnstown has a great chance of ending this losing streak and start climbing up the East Division standings.




October 12, 2017

Truehl Won't Start Pro Career with Idaho

Photo via Yahoo Sports



During this past off season former Johnstown Tomahawks' netminder, Chris Truehl signed his first pro contract with the ECHL's Idaho Steelheads.

A few days ago on October 8, the Steelhead released Truehl from his contract. 

In preseason action, Truehl appeared in one game for the Steelheads and played just under thirty minutes. He faced 12 shots and turned away all 12.


The move to cut Truehl most likely happened due to the Steelheads receiving back from the AHL, Philippe Desrosiers. Desrosiers joins Branden Komm who's the team's other returning goalie.

As of this article, Truehl has not signed with any other pro teams. Hopefully that's just temporary and Truehl finds himself a place to play.

Truehl would join former Tomahawks' D-man, Casey Nelson, as being another Johnstown Alumni that's taken his game to the pro level.

Nelson, two season's ago, jumped from the college ranks to the NHL and appeared in 7 games with the Buffalo Sabres. He had 4 assists in those 7 games and was also a plus 1.

Last season, Nelson split time between the Sabres and their AHL affiliate team, the Rochester Americans. With Buffalo, Nelson played in 11 games and had no points. With Rochester, he played in 58 games scoring 24 points (7 goals, 14 assists).

Nelson has already appeared in 2 games this season with Rochester where he has 1 assist so far.

Truehl's college career came to an end at the end of last season. Truehl played two season with Air Force Academy before transferring last season to Quinnipiac University.

His stats are below:


If Truehl finds a new team to sign with we'll make sure to let everyone know.

EXTRA: This is a story we shared a little while ago,but did you know that Chris Truehl is allergic to ice! You can read all about on this Puck Daddy article.

October 11, 2017

Tomahawks Make Two Trades; Sign Familiar Defensman




The Tomahawks have made two trades and signed a player as they get ready for the home opener this Saturday.

Johnstown's only veteran player, Logan Stork, was traded to the Kenai River Brown Bears for a 2017 Tender and a conditional 2018 fourth round draft pick.

Johnstown also traded returning defensman, Andy Iehle, to in-division rival, Philadelphia Rebels for a 2017 tender.

Johnstown also signed defensman Reagan Wortz.




Of all three transactions, I'm personally most happy with the signing of Wortz. If you remember, Wortz played in one game for the Tomahawks' last season. He was added to the roster when the team was down several players because of injuries and suspensions. In his only game with the team last season, Wortz scored the Tomahawks eventual game-winning goal.

Wortz was a former draft pick of the Tomahawks during the 2016 NAHL draft.

This season Wortz was playing for the New Jersey Hitmen in the USPHL Premier league. In 9 games he had 1 goal and 6 assists. He's listed as standing at 6'2, 218 lb.

With Stork gone, the Tomahawks do not have a single player on the roster that's a 1997 birth year player. So, an already young team did just got a bit younger.

Stork played in 11 games this season and had 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists).

Iehle appeared in 10 games this season and had 2 points (2 assists).

What do you think about these moves? Let us know below.

If you'd like, here is the Tomahawks official press release on the moves that were made today.

October 6, 2017

Britt League Added to Roster; Hawks Back In Boston for Last Time This Season

http://picssr.com/tags/youngstownphantoms - Saraha Photography 2017

The Tomahawks continue their season-opening road trip as they head back to the Boston area to take on the Northeast Generals. This, oddly enough, is the last time all season the Tomahawks will travel to play the Generals in their home barn.

Next weekend the Tomahawks finally have their home opener vs the Philadelphia Rebels for a two game set. But don't get to comfortable with having the Hawks back at home, because it's a one-and-done home stand, as the Hawks' will go back on the road for two more weeks.

Getting back to this weekend's games.




So far this season, Johnstown is 1-2 vs the Generals.

The Tomahawks will once again have a new player on the roster as Britt League has rejoined the team after not making the opening roster for the USHL's Youngstown Phantom.

League appeared in a handful of games for Johnstown last year, towards the begining of the season. League went, 4-0-0-1 and had a save percentage of .910.

He was then called up to the Phantoms and spent the rest of the 2016-2017 season with Youngstown, though he only played in 6 games. He tallied a record of 3-0-0 with a save percentage of .919.

Will the 2-7-0 Tomahawks be able to turn things around with this weekend series vs the Generals?

During the first three games they played vs the Generals to start the season, the Tomahawks didn't look all that great, but one of their wins is from beating the Generals.

Northeast is currently the best team in the league (7-2-0 14 points). With this said, New Jersey did beat the Generals in their last game, 10-3. Fingers crossed that this is a sign that Northeast might be a fragile team at the moment, and the Tomahawks can capitalize on it.

Johnstown has the worst goal differentual in the league which is currently at a -17.

Defense for the Hawks' has been an issue in this young season, allowing 34 goals in only 9 games.

Though the Hawks have been having a tough time keeping pucks out of the net, they haven't been scoring a ton of goals either. So far the team has scored 17 goals, 5 of which game in one game vs Topeka, which gave them their second win of the season.

It's not quite time to hit the panic button just yet, but Johnstown needs to start finding themselves in the win column.

The top four teams in the division make the playoffs, and right now, Johnstown sits in fifth place with only 4 points. Tomahawks' are 5 points behind fourth place New Jersey.

If the Tomahawks have a perfect weekend they can improve to 5-7, which makes things a whole lot better. If things continue to go the way they have gone so far, and the Hawks give up three more losses, that would give the team a 2-10 record.

If that happens, management will have to decide what to do next. Have this year be a learning year and hope the young players develop and come back next season to have a great year, though losing in Johnstown will hurt overall attendance. Or, shake up the roster even more.

Let's hope this is the weekend the team turns things around so we don't have to consider even more dire possible changes.

Schedule:

Tomahawks vs Generals Friday 7:30 pm
Tomahawks vs. Generals Saturaday 5:30pm
Tomahawks vs Generals Sunday 12:00pm


September 30, 2017

New Faces In Tomahawks' Lineup, Including USHL Returned Player

Earlier this week, the Johnstown Tomahawks make a trade with the Janesville Jets to acquire Ben and David Schmidling. The trade was made as the Tomahawks were looking for more veteran leadership, scoring ability, and the brothers are former teammates with current Johnstown forward, Joey Baez. You can read the article about the Schmidling brothers on the Tomahawks' official website, here.


Well, the Tomahawks will also have another new face in the lineup when the team takes on the Philadelphia Rebels tonight in Philly. Brendan White joins the team after not making the final cut with his USHL team, the Dubuque Fighting Saints. White, has ties to the Tomahawks as he was selected by the team in the 2017 NAHL draft this past off-season. White was picked in the 10th round, 299 overall.

White is a 1998 birth year player. He's listed as standing at 6'2, 186 pounds. He hails for New York. He will wear Riley Doyon's old number, 44.

Last year White played with two teams. Williston Northampton School (highschool) where he scored 21 points in 28 games. He also spent 13 games with the Springfield Rifles U18 club, scoring 3 goals and assisting on 4 others.

As the month of September closes out, USHL clubs are starting to finalize their opening-day rosters. Players still in the USHL that have Tomahawks' connects are listed below.

Last Year Players:

Dalton Hunter - Youngstown
Donovan Ott - Muskegon
Hayden Rowan - Sioux City

Draft Picks:

Erik Urbank - Des Monies

---

The Tomahawks face the Rebels this weekend, for a two game set. Next weekend the Hawks are on the road again as they head back to up to the Boston area to face the Northeast Generals in another three game set. Then, finally, the Tomahawks will come home for their home opener vs the Philadelphia Rebels.

The Tomahawks currently hold a record of 2-5, which has them in fifth (last place) in the East Division.

September 19, 2017

Solensky Officially Back; Quetell Returns to Johnstown; Northeast Series Highlights; NAHL Showcase

In this post, we’re going to take a look back at the three games Johnstown played against Northeast and share video highlights of all three games. We’ll also then take a look ahead at the NAHL Showcase, which starts tomorrow and will see every team in the league play four games in four days.





But before we get to all of that, there’s two roster moves that we want to talk about involving the Johnstown Tomahawks. The first, Samuel Solensky is now officially back with the team and should be in the lineup at some point during the Showcase.


Solensky was back home in Michalovce, Slovakia taking care of his school work, which caused him to miss out on Tomahawks’ training camp earlier this month.


Solensky, played half the season with the Tomahawks’ last year, before being recalled to the Youngstown Phantom. In 31 games with Johnstown, he scored 23 points (8 goals, 15 assists). Even though he only appear in half of Johnstown’s games, he finished 9th on the team in scoring.


In Youngstown, Solensky  saw limited action and only played in 9 regular season games. He did not record any points.


After Johnstown lost it’s top eight goal scores from last season, it’s nice to get back a proven scorer to this Tomahawks’ young lineup.



Solensky isn’t the only player that’s returning to the Tomahawks’ lineup. Yesterday, Andrew Quetell was returned to the Tomahawks by the USHL’s Central Illinois Flying Aces.


Quetell, in 59 games, scored 1 goal, assisted on 12 others, while having a plus- of 12.


This now gives Johnstown three returning defenseman. Quetell rejoins Trouba and Iehle.


Quetell is a 1998 birth year player.


Quetell is listed to be wearing number 54 this year.

Johnstown vs Northeast Thoughts and Highlights


The Tomahawks have started off the season 1-2, after dropping the first two games at Northeast, before coming back in game three to get their first win of the season.

In game one, the Tomahawks' looked like the young team they are. They didn't look up to speed and you could blame it on not having any preseason games, or just the lack of expernice of the players playing at this Tier II level.

While the Tomahawks' never carried played, the game was within reach the whole sixty minutes, as Johnstown lost, 4-2. The fourth goal was an empty netter.

As you'll see from the highlights, if not for two bad defensive breakdowns, the Tomahawks could have pulled one out and won this game.







Game two, Johnstown lost 5-1. Johnstown didn't have much going on in this game. Below are the highlights, or in this case, the lowlights.




In game three, things didn't start the way that the team would have liked, as Johnstown fell behind, 2-0.  It look like the Tomahawks were going to drop their third straight game.

Then the turning point in the game happened. Johnstown's Cade Groton had the puck by Northeast's bench, when he was hit from behind by Ryan Rowland (might have been Mike Egan) and Chris Trouba rushed in to stick up for his fallen teammate.

Seconds after Trouba's fight, the Tomahawks got on the board with their first goal. About two minutes later, Johnstown scored again.

Before the fight, Johnstown wasn't doing much with the puck. After the fight, all the momentum and puck possion was coming from Johnstown. The team started to look like the Tomahawks we know.

Johnstown would get the game-winning goal in the third period by newcomer, Andray Andrew.

Here's the highlights.




NAHL Showcase


The Showcase begins tomorrow. Here's what the Tomahawks' schedule will look like:

9-20 Topeka 7pm
9-21 Janesville 1:15pm
9-22 Aberdeen 11:30 am
9-23 Odessa 10 am

All start times are CDT.

Last season the Tomahawks finished the Showcase with a 3-1 record.

The Tomahawks' all time record at the NAHL Showcase is, 8-6-2.

September 12, 2017

Win Free Tickets to the Home Opener

We posted this on Facebook about a week ago, but figured it would make sense to write something about it on the blog, as well.

We want to get as many people signed up for the new message board (www.thetomablogmb.com) as possible, so why not give you the readers some more incentive to do so.

If we reach 500 registered users by October 10th 2017 we'll give away four free tickets to the Tomahawks' home opener.

The rules are very simple. Once you make an account you're automatically entered to win. Each user has the ability to win one (1) free ticket.

We will randomly select four user names on the 10th and those will be the winners. If a winner cannot make the game, we will select another name as a replacement.

So please sign-up if you haven't already. Also tell your hockey loving friends to sign up too.

We hope to reach 500 registered users and think it's an obtainable goal, but even if we don't get that many in the next few weeks, we'll still give away some tickets. Here's the breakdown.

150 users - 1 free ticket giveaway

250 users - 2 free ticket giveaway

400 users - 3 free ticket giveaway

Making a message board account is free and always will be. It takes less than two minutes to set everything up.

So far, as of this posting, we currently have 42 members. Those members are already eligible for the giveaway.

Tomorrow the regular season get's underway as the Tomahawks are on the road taking on the Northeast Generals at 2pm. You can watch the game on hockeytv.com

Now's the perfect time to chat with other fans about the season and everything Tomahawks.

www.thetomablogmb.com


September 11, 2017

Johnstown A Perfect Fit For Newcomer Joey Baez

Joey Baez has been playing the game of hockey since he was three-years-old.  After all the years, and different levels of play, this past February he signed a tender with the Johnstown Tomahawks.

“I wanted to get prepared for college hockey. I wanted to experience junior hockey,” said Baez.  To do that he believed that Johnstown would be the perfect fit for him.

Baez is a fast skating forward, who during training camp this preseason has found ways to get around even the most mobile skating defenseman. Along with his speed, he has the scoring touch that makes his game even more deadly when he’s out on the ice.

“I see myself as a playmaker and goalscorer,” said Baez.

That he is. Last season, Baez played for the Skipjacks Hockey Club U16 team. In 27 games, he scored 22 goals, 29 assists, which gave him 51 points on the season. The year prior to last, he also played for the Skipjacks U16 club and was a point-a-game player, scoring 24 points in 24 games.

His ability to score goals will be a welcome for the Tomahawks, as they’ve seen players like, Nick Bruce and Filips Buncis, move on to the college level. Also players like Dalton Hunter and Donovan Ott who’ve moved up to the USHL for this upcoming season.

Joey Baez is one of the few players entering training camp this week that already has a college commitment. Baez committed to the University of Alabama-Huntsville back in November of last year. Alabama-Huntsville is a D1 school.

One of the most famous players to come out of Alabama-Huntsville is current NHLer, Cam Talbot.

Baez’s personal goals for the season are all about doing anything in his power to get the Tomahawks a Robertson Cup Championship.

“Just playing really well with the team. I really want to get along with the guys. I just want to be a good teammate,” said Baez.



September 8, 2017

Kraemer Ready to Build On Last Year's Success

Last season, the Johnstown Tomahawks found themselves with several players out of the lineup due to injury and suspension. The Tomahawks needed to add a few players to their roster so they could compete without being extremely shorthanded.

One of those players that got a call from the Tomahawks was Pittsburgh native, Roman Kraemer.

Kraemer played for the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite U18 team. In total, he would see action in 32 games for his U18 team, scoring 42 points. When he joined the Tomahawks his point production continued, even at the higher NAHL level.

“He was really dynamic,” Mike Letizia said about Kraemer’s play.

Kraemer, in total, played 6 games for the Tomahawks, scoring 4 points. He was also on Johnstown’s playoff roster and appeared in all three games. In those three games he registered two assists.

“It was a great experience, going from U18 to junior hockey. (It) was a big step,” Kraemer said after finishing another high-paced training camp practice, run by head coach Mike Letizia, on Thursday.

Kraemer is one of a few players returning from last year’s Tomahawks team.

Looking back at last year’s call up, Kraemer was impressed with the differences that came from playing in U18 hockey and coming up to the Tier II NAHL level.

“There’s a lot more speed in junior hockey and a lot more hitting. There’s a lot more skilled guys. Every player is a good player. You don’t see a weak spot on any team,” Kraemer said.

The goal for the entire team is to make the playoffs and then make a solid run to win the Robertson Cup. Personally, Kraemer wants to improve his game even more and be a go-to player on the ice.

“(I’ll) try and move the puck as much as I can. Just be a playmaker for the team,” said Kraemer.

With the team losing seven of it’s top scores during the off-season, Mike Letizia believes that Kraemer can be a player that can help make up that loss.

“He looks like he’s primed to take a pretty elevated role on the team this year and we expect him to do that for sure,” said Letizia.

September 1, 2017

Tomahawks - In the News #1

The new hockey season is getting closer by the day. The Tomahawks have been back in town for the last week, attending training camp to get ready for the season.

There's been a lot of articles and news about the team in the past week, and if you missed any of it, no need to worry. We've got you covered. Below are all the stories you need to make sure you check out. 

These are from the Tomahawks' official website, The Tribune Democrat, and our blog.

Enjoy.

P.S. If you haven't yet, make sure you join our new message board. We hope it'll be the go to place on game days (and every other day too). Singing up and using the service is free and always will be. You can find the message board via the link at the top of this page or go to it directly at www.thetomablogmb.com

The Johnstown Tomahawks Official Website 


Features info about returning players, some new players, and a ton of quotes.


Purpura has his eyes set on the starting goalie role. Features quotes from Purpura himself.


Trouba talks about stepping up into a leadership role this upcoming season. Features quotes from Trouba.


Info about Mike Letizia's two principles and how the players are looking in the first week of camp. Once again, filled with quotes.




Tribune Democrat Articles




The Tomablog


We take a look at why for the first time in team history the Tomahawks have no preseason games to play.


The Tomahawks parted was with a few players that were set to return this upcoming season. Find out who they are in this article.


We've added a second site to The Tomablog brand. 

August 30, 2017

No Preseason Games This Year for the Tomahawks

The Johnstown Tomahawks are entering their sixth NAHL season, and for the first time in their history, they will not play any preseason games.

The main reason for this is the way their regular season schedule falls.

The Tomahawks usually play two or three preseason games to fine tune things before the regular season gets underway. One of those opponents they usually battle against is the USHL's Youngstown Phantoms.

No players are allowed to officially report to their USHL teams, and start team activities until September 11, 2017. The Tomahawks first regular season game is September 13, 2017 in the Boston area vs the Northeast Generals.

The twelve-hour long bus trip to Massachusetts means that the team will be departing Johnstown the day before on September 12, 2017. Youngstown would only be in camp by that point for one day.
Philadelphia (formerly Aston) doesn't start their camp until the end of this week. The following week they have an exhibition game vs New Jersey.

This would leave Johnstown only with Northeast, and having to deal with travel time and playing them to start the season three times in a row, doesn’t have any positive upsides to have a preseason game against them as well.

On top of that, the Tomahawks play the first six weeks of the season straight without any bye weekends. This includes two trips to Boston and one trip to the NAHL showcase.

Having no preseason games might help keep the team a little more rested then if they were playing games this weekend and the next.

"A little bit different but the guys know that. They know our process. They know how important it is to take advantage of training camp. We’re just gonna go with it," said head coach Mike Letizia.

The team will have an inter-squad game this weekend, (September 2, 2017) at Galactic Ice in Altoona at 4pm. The event is for season ticket holders and will be proceeded by the annual Altoona Curve baseball game outing.

What do you think of the team not having any preseason games this year? Think it'll help or hurt the team? Give your thoughts over at the message board, or comment below. www.thetomablogmb.com