Johnstown @ Keystone
7:30 p.m. The Ice Mine Connellsville, PA
The Tomahawks begin the 2014-2015 season against the in-state rival Keystone Ice Miners. The Ice Miners make their debut in Connellsville, after playing the last four seasons in Port Huron, Mich.
The Tomahawks look to improve upon their 28-27-5 record from last season, while looking for their third consecutive postseason berth. The Tomahawks have a new man at the helm, as Mike Letizia steps up from assistant coach to head coach. Filling the vacancy at assistant coach is Matt Williams, who played for the Tomahawks during the 2012-2013 season.
Johnstown will have to replace its top six scorers from last season, along with starting goaltender Alex Okicki. Players returning this season include Tanner Barnes (9G-13A), Trevor Recktenwald (10G-11A), and goaltender Brett Young, who appeared in seven games last season.
Along with the returning players, the Tomahawks have new players who look to fill important roles this season. Goaltender and USA Hockey All-American Prospect Ryan Bednard will battle for time between the pipes, while forwards like first round pick Dalton Hunter and Zach Zech will look to light the lamp of offense. On defense, players like Steve Quagliata and Ebensburg native Connor Eckenrod will look to make big plays inside the blue line.
Following this weekend’s game, the Tomahawks travel to Blaine, Minn. for the NAHL Showcase. Their first showcase game is against Aberdeen on Wednesday.
The Ice Miners
The Ice Miners begin the next chapter of their franchise tonight, hoping to repeat as regular season champions. Forwards Alex Archibald (4G-24A) and Vito Aluia (13G-20A) are the leading offensive players returning this season for the Ice Miners, while goaltender Alex Blank-enburg (17-5-3) returns for his third season.
The Ice Miners are coached by Michael Gershon, who is beginning his third season behind the bench.
Following this weekend’s game, the Ice Miners open NAHL Showcase play against Aberdeen.
The only other division matchup this weekend features the Janesville Jets visiting the Soo Eagles for a pair of games Friday & Saturday nights. The remaining North division teams open their seasons on Wednesday at the showcase, as Michigan opens against Austin and Springfield plays Brookings.
Facts & Notes
- Keystone was sixth last season with 270 power-play opportunities
- The Tomahawks are looking for their first win in a season opener. The Tomahawks have lost to the Ice Miners in the past two season openers.
- Tomahawks defenseman Dakoda Menslage was tied for second on the team last season with eight power-play assists.
- Johnstown was 14-0-2 last season when leading after two periods and 18-5-3 when scoring first.
- Keystone averaged 3.12 goals per game last season