March 13, 2018

NAHL East Division Playoff Watch (How Tomahawks Can Still Make Playoffs)

There's one thing certainty as the Tomahawks continue their last stretch of games in the 2017-18 season. Only for the second time in their history, the Johnstown Tomahawks will finish with a record below five hundred. The only other time this happened was back in 2014-15 when the Tomahawks finished with a record of 25-27-4-4.

2014-15 was also the only year that the Tomahawks didn't make the playoffs.

Johnstown's playoff hopes are still alive after battling from behind in two games last weekend against New Jersey and getting wins in overtime. Johnstown picked up four out of six points on the weekend. Sure, they also let the Titans take four points, but as the season dies down, the Tomahawks only have to get past the Northeast Generals to grab the last playoff spot.

Currently, the Generals sit in fourth place with a total of 51 points. Johnstown, in fifth place, has a total of 42 points. Though, Northeast has played three less games than Johnstown.

If you thought last weekend's three-game series vs New Jersey was the most important weekend of the season, with the Tomahawks picking up the two wins against the Titans, this weekend now is the most important of the year.

Johnstown will host the Generals for three games.

If Johnstown can find a way to pick up three wins without giving Northeast any points, Johnstown would only be three points behind the Generals.

The most points the Tomahawks can earn the rest of the season is 16. That's if they don't lose another game in their last eight. This would give them a total of 58 points. Seeing as the Generals already have 51 points, there's only a seven point leeway.

I won't talk about what happens in a tie-breaker situation right now. We'll go over that if it should happen.

So, you see? The Tomahawks can make the playoffs still but they'll also need some other teams in the division to help them out and beat Northeast in regulation a few times.

After this weekend of games vs Northeast, Johnstown goes back to New Jersey to play them for another three-game weekend. The Tomahawks will then have another off week before returning home to close out the season when they battle the Philadelphia Rebels.

As for Northeast, next weekend they'll host WB/Scranton for three games. They'll then head to Philadelphia for three games. Then they'll wrap up the season playing two games vs New Jersey where things could get a little shady.

I say shady, because if the Tomahawks still have a chance to make the playoffs come the last weekend of the season, New Jersey would easily not play any of their top players and let the Generals win so Johnstown doesn't make the playoffs.

Let's hope things are settled before that so we don't have to see that situation play out.

If Northeast comes into Johnstown this weekend and takes all six points that would give them 57, basically putting the nail in the Tomahawks' coffin.

This season the Tomahawks are 2-7-0 vs the Generals.


Personal Accounts

February 26, 2018

Tomahawks Still Have A Chance for Playoffs. How?

The Johnstown Tomahawks, once again, swept the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights over the weekend, 4-1 and 3-2, to keep their playoff hopes alive.

So how can the Tomahawks make the playoffs having been in fifth place basically for the whole season and still sitting back ten points behind fourth place Northeast Generals? Well, it's two fold. Win. Hope Northeast or New Jersey doesn't.

Johnstown has a total of eleven games left in the 2017-18 regular season. These eleven games are going to be the biggest regular season games that the Tomahawks have possibly ever played. It's a tough task, but if they buckle down and play like they did this past weekend, they have a chance to take care of business, at least on their side of things.

Looking at the points in the East Division, this is how things break down.

The Tomahawks have an off week this weekend. They will then play three games at New Jersey. The following weekend, at home, for three against Northeast. Then back to New Jersey for three more. The season comes to an end at home with two games vs Philadelphia.

If the Tomahawks don't put together a Hollywood ending to this year's season, then this will be the first year in team history that they won't make the playoffs.

The Tomahawks best record vs an in-division team comes against the Knights this season, as you can tell from the image below. Too bad we don't have any more games against them.

One bright spot is that the Tomahawks are one of the better teams in the division in their last ten games. Here are the team's current streaks and records in their last ten games.

The most points the Tomahawks can add is 22, that's if they win their last eleven games. In total that would give them 60 points. 

Remember, four out of the five teams in the division make the playoffs. So, since the Generals are the closest to the Tomahawks, our breakdown will look at how many games Northeast has to lose for Johnstown to take over the last playoff spot.

Quickly, let's look at the Generals remaining schedule.

Northeast - Johnstown (3), WB/Scranton (6), New Jersey (2), Philadelphia (3)

With the Generals ahead of Johnstown by ten points, it's very important that Johnstown sweep the Generals when they face them in a couple of weeks. With it being three games, with two points each, that would give Johnstown six points, bringing them only four points away from tying the Generals.

But, the Generals have played three less games than the Tomahawks.

Let's work our way from the max amount of points the Tomahawks can get (60), down, to see what each team's reocrd would have to be for the Tomahawks to still make the playoffs, and Northeast not.

As you can see, if Johnstown would somehow go 11-0-0 the rest of the season, Northeast would only have to go 6-8-0 for Johnstown to tie them in points and I'm not too sure what the NAHL tie breaker is.

Reminder: This is only looking at the easiest solution. If New Jersey falls apart and Johnstown plays great, they could knock New Jersey out, but we'll take a look at that possible angle as the last few weeks move along.

I'll try and update this chart after every game to give you an up-to-date look at the Tomahawks' chances. You'll find those updates on The Tomablog's social media pages.

So, do you think the Tomahawks will overtake Northeast and make the playoffs? Let me know with a comment here on the blog or on our social media pages. Links to those are below.

It's going to be an interesting end to the season for sure.


Personal Accounts

February 9, 2018

Johnstown Visits Fairbanks for Two Games

After having last week off and sweeping the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights the previous weekend, the Tomahawks are back in action this weekend as they travel to Alaska to take on the Fairbanks Ice Dogs.

Johnstown will play Fairbanks in two games before then traveling to Kenai River to play two more games in Alaska next weekend.

Below is some information to get you ready for this week's pair of games. We've also included a video from the Johnstown Tomahawks. Enjoy and Let's Go Hawks!


Personal Accounts

January 23, 2018

Tomahawks Release Goaltender

A move that was made about two weeks ago but wasn't officially announced until yesterday, the Johnstown Tomahawks have released goaltender, Britt League.

League join the Tomahawks last season and played a total of five games in 2016-17, posting a record of 4-0-1 and a save percentage of .910.

He was then called up to the USHL's Youngtown Phantoms where he finished the season.

This year it was a reversal. League started the year with Youngstown before returning to the Tomahawks in early October.

This season with Johnstown, League had a record of 2-5-1-1 and a save percentage of .889.

This move now brings the Tomahawks' roster to two goalies; Phipps and Leavy.

Leavy, a 1997 birth-year player, is in his last season of junior hockey.

Phipps, a 1998 birth-year player, still has another season of junior hockey eligibility left.

League was the youngest of the goaltending trio, as he's a 1999 birth-year player.


Personal Accounts

January 22, 2018

Tomahawks Split Series with Philadelphia (January 19-20 2018)

The Tomahawks split a pair of games this weekend vs the division-leading Philadelphia Rebels. The action on the ice was physical, as usual when it comes to these two teams. There was no love between the two teams off the ice as well.

We won't get into details here, but the Rebels were given the smallest locker room in the arena to use instead of the usual, spacious, away team locker room.  The Rebels did not stay overnight in a hotel in Johnstown either as every other team does when playing in Johnstown. This all stemmed from a, less-than-good experience the Tomahawks were given when they visited Philadelphia earlier this season.

If you'd like to know more, talk to your fellow Tomahawks' fan. It was a point of conversation around the arena both nights.

As for the on-ice events went, the Tomahawks pulled out a great come-from-behind win on Friday night, only to see the Rebels put together a comeback of their own the following night on Saturday.

Here's the two press releases detailing all the scoring on Friday and Saturday night.

Below are some thoughts/notes about the past two games this weekend and a look ahead.

Listed on the lineup chart as the fourth line for the Tomahawks, Baez, Briere, and Gorscak had an impression weekend for the Tomahawks and were the team's deadliest line.

The Tomahawks scored a total of four goals this weekend vs the Rebels and the fourth-line factored on three of those goals.

On Friday night, this line tied the game up at two, in the third period. Then they took the lead (which was the game winning goal) a few minutes later.

On Saturday, the fourth-line had the team's only goal in the game which was scored midway through the first period.

Each player this weekend had three points. Briere had two goals and one assist. Gorscak had one goal and two assists. Baez had three assists.

On Saturday night, the Tomahawks impressive penalty kill streak ended when the team allowed two goals on the penalty kill vs the Rebels.

Going into Saturday's game, Johnstown hadn't allowed a power play goal since December 16, 2017, which was also against the Philadelphia Rebels. In the span of eight games, Johnstown had gone 39 for 39. 

On Saturday night, Johnstown went 5 for 7 on the penalty kill.

Overall, the Tomahawks' penalty kill is currently ranked 12th in the league killing 80% of the penalties they take.

On the offensive side of things, the Tomahawks power play is currently ranked 17th, scoring 17.4% of the time with the man-advantage.

Saturday Night was Ninja Turtle Night at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial. A total of 3,376 fans packed the arena to see the Tomahawks take on the Rebels. This brought the Tomahawks average attendance this season to 1,996.

Below are two infographics showing you the top five crowds this season and season-by-season attendance numbers in the Tomahawks' six year history.

The overall attendance this season still has a chance to raise above 2,000 fans as Johnstown still has seven home games left in the 2017-18 season.

I believe that the numbers will probably finish slightly above an average of 2,000 fans as the Tomahawks have some great promotions for the last seven home games that should help pack 1st Summit Arena. On top of that, even though this season has been a disappointment record wise, Johnstown still has a chance to make the playoffs.

Upcoming promotions include: Faith and Family Night (Feb 23, 2018), Guns & Hoses Night (Feb 24, 2018), Fight Night (March 16, 2018), 6th Annual Pucks and Paws Night (March 18, 2018), Fan Appreciation Weekend (April 6-7).

The Tomahawks season longest home stand of nine games has come to an end. Johnstown will now take the road for the next month. Here's a look at the remaining schedule for the Tomahawks.


Personal Accounts

January 8, 2018

Five Stars from the Kenai River Brown Bear Series

After being swept by the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, the Johnstown Tomahawks turned the tables on Kenai River, another Alaska team, and swept the Brown Bears.

On Friday night, Johnstown defeated Kenai River, 3-1, in a game that the Tomahawks controlled all night long.

On Saturday night, the Tomahawks took the early lead, but then saw the Brown Bears score three straight goals in the remainder of the first period to give them a lead.

After neither team could score in the second period, it would take a valiant effort from the Tomahawks to comeback in the third period. They did just that, scoring the next three goals of the game, in the last ten minutes or so to defeat the Brown Bears, 4-3.

So, here's our five stars from this series. Sure, usually in hockey it's only three-stars, but three just wasn't enough to recognize the key players from this weekend.

Honorable Mention - David Schmidling

It was David's goal on Saturday night that gave the Tomahawks the 4-3 victory over the Brown Bears. Only his second goal of the season, he sure did make it count. It was his first goal since December 1, 2017 when he scored against the New Jersey Titans.

In 25 games with the Tomahawks he has eight points (two goals, six assists).

5. Penalty Killers

The Tomahawks penalty killers have been doing an outstanding job as of late. During Saturday's game, with the Tomahawks still down 3-1, in the third, and having to kill off a lenghy 5-on-3, the team did just that.

Not only did the Tomahawks kill off the two-man disadvantage and not allow the Brown Bears to take an even further lead, but it's this kill that swung the momentum over to the Tomahawks. From that point, the Tomahawks began and completed a great comeback, picking up the 4-3 win in regulation.

This weekend the Tomahawks were a perfect 10 for 10 on the penalty kill.

Against Fairbanks the Tomahawks were a perfect 8 for 8.

The weekend prior to that in Philadelphia the Tomahawks went 6 for 8.

And even before that weekend vs Wilkes-Barre/Scranton the Tomahawks completed another 10 for 10 weekend.

Currently the Tomahawks are ranked 16th on the penalty kill, killing off 77.6% of their penalties. The percentage is pretty low overall compared to what they've been doing lately because of that terrible start the Tomahawks had to the season.

4. Chris Trouba

Trouba was instrumental for the team's victory on Friday night as he assisted on two of the Tomahawks three goals.

His two-point night tied a personal high for him this season. His other two-point game came against the New Jersey Titans on December 1st.

Trouba has already passed his season point totals from last year, and he's done it in fewer games played. Last season, Trouba appeared in 34 games and registered five points (two goals, three assists). He also had 88 penalty minutes. This year, as an assistant captain, in 32 games he has eight points (all assists). He also has 72 penalty minutes.

3. Kade Phipps

Things could be a lot different if Phipps decided to join the Titans a few weeks ago when the New Jersey team was facing a bunch of goalie injuries and needed to find someone to play goal for them.

Since the Tomahawks have picked up Phipps, he as a record of 5-3-0 and a .931 save percentage. His save percentage combined with his save percentage while with the Aberdeen Wings earlier this season, gives him a .933 save percentage which is third best in the entire league.

He's been a steady force in net for the Tomahawks. In two of his three loses he's only given up two goals. That third loss, which came against Philadelphia, he allowed four.

2. Toby Sengvongxay

Since joining the Tomahawks earlier in the season, he's turned into one of the Tomahawks best defensmen and also the most offensively threatening, with his D-leading 12 points (one goal, 11 assists).

He's a very smooth skating player and seems to always be in the right position at both ends of the ice.

He currently leads the Tomahawks with a +3 on ice rating. One of the few players on the current roster to be a plus.

On Saturday night, Toby had two assists. He assisted on Carson Briere's goal to make the game 3-2 and then on Ben Schmidling's goal which tied the game.

1. Carson Briere

Briere had his best weekend as a Tomahawk scoring three points in two games. Even better, he has four points in his last four games. He's heating up at the exact right time of the season.

During this past weekend, Briere had a goal and two assists, two of those points came on Saturday night. His goal started the Tomahawks come back, pulling the Hawks within one goal. His assist then came on the game winning goal at 19:20 of the third period.

He now has eight points (three goals, five assists) in 15 games with the Tomahawks this season.