For the Johnstown Tomahawks:
Today was the first day of Tomahawks training camp. Close to thirty players were at practice, which took place at Northern Central Recreational Center.
Returning Tomahawks’ players, Chris Trouba and Logan Stork, led the team in pre-practice stretching, which included all the new players individually standing among their teammates and introducing themselves. The last question that was asked of each player was, “What team do you play for?”, to which each new player then screamed out, “The Tomahawks.” Each time, this was met with thunderous cheering from the rest of the team.
While this was playful and helped calm the nerves of any player that might have been feeling a little nervous, once Mike Letizia and Nick Shackford hit the ice, the team was ready to get down to business.
“I thought the compete level was pretty good. You could see the hunger in a lot of guys eyes. I thought our veteran guys came to work, which was nice to see,” said head coach Mike Letizia. During the hour and forty five minute practice, the players did around twenty drills.
These ranged from your standard passing and shooting, to more game real scenarios. The players worked tirelessly on board battle’s, front net battles, and zone play.
The Tomahawks will have two weeks of camp before starting the regular season vs the Northeast Generals, on September 13.
“Today was kind of setting a tone for just competing, habits and some conditioning. You learn right away who’s a pretender and who isn’t. And there really weren’t any pretenders,” said Letizia.
This year’s Tomahawks’ team only sees a handful of returning players from last season. At practice today was, Roman Kraemer, Logan Stork, Joseph Kile, Alex Singley, Cade Groton, Mitchell Hale, Chris Trouba, Andy Iehle, and goalie Vinnie Purpura.
One veteran player not at the first day of training camp, but should be arriving in Johnstown before the start of the season is forward, Samuel Solensky. Solensky played 31 games for the Tomahawks, scoring 23 points before being called up to the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms.
Some new faces for the Tomahawks are forward Joseph Baez and Chase Davidson.
Baez, already has a college commitment to the University of Alabama-Huntsville. Last season he played for the Skipjacks U16 club in the USPHL where he appeared in 27 games and registered 51 points.
Davidson, a 2017 Tomahawks’ draft pick, is a six-foot-four defenseman who played high school hockey last season for Menomonie High where he picked up 30 points in 24 games.
In between the pipes, Vinnie Purpura was turning away pucks, left and right. He also had the perfect view to take in the first impressions of this year’s club.
Purpura appeared in 21 games for the Tomahawks last season and had a record of 12-4-2 and a save percentage of .902.
“Today’s practice was good. I thought we looked fast. We looked like a hard working team. And I’m excited,” said Purpura.
The Tomahawks are back on the ice in Ebensburg tomorrow at 11am.