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