Defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something, opportunity is a precious commodity in the North American Hockey League.
Thousands of players from around the globe leave their comfort zones and homes to attend try-out camps and to take the next step in ensuring a commitment to the NCAA.
The Johnstown Tomahawks are offering an opportunity for the best players to showcase their skills at three pre-draft camps in Novi, Mich., Prior Lake, Minn. and Pittsburgh respectively.
Try-out camps are a vital part of the success of the Tomahawks during their five years in the NAHL. The camps have produced players that have left an indelible mark on Johnstown hockey.
Mike Letizia knows the value of camps as he has coached and watched some of the best junior talent in North America.
“Our tryout camps have been such vital parts to the success of our roster year after year,” Letizia said. “We have seen so many quality players that attended our camps and we followed up by drafting them, tendering them, bringing them to main camp where they earned a spot on our roster, or future players who made an impression on us and we later brought them into the team.”
But perhaps the biggest success story comes from a camp last summer in Novi, MI. A journey that begins in The Sea Bound Coast of Nova Scotia.
Hailing from the suburban Halifax community of Fall River, Nova Scotia, Nick Bruce was a quality player for the Valley Jr. Wildcats of the Maritime Junior Hockey League. During the 2015-16 season, Bruce tallied 21 goals and 25 assists.
After his impressive season, the forward decided to make the transition to the NAHL which in Bruce’s words was a “leap of faith.”
“Attending Tomahawks camp was a bit of a leap of faith for me, but I am very glad I chose to go,” Bruce said.
Bruce impressed Tomahawks brass enough that the team used a 13th round selection on him in the 2016 NAHL Draft.
“And as they say, ‘the rest is history,’” Letizia said.
Bruce quickly established himself as a go-to player on the team, starring in roles on the power play and was frequently a Top Six forward.
He developed into a key playmaker and a clutch performer, racking up 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) in the final 10 games of the season. In total, the Nova Scotian scored 27 goals and added 40 assists in all 60 games played.
His hard work throughout the season helped him shatter two single season records. Bruce surpassed Luke Lynch’s mark of 56 points with 67 points. Additionally, he set a new single-season assists mark, breaking Andrew Romano’s record of 39 helpers.
Moreover, Bruce represented the East Division at the 2017 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament in February.
Bruce credits the Tomahawks for starting his journey to a commitment to Rochester Institute of Technology.
“Arriving in Johnstown was the start of my journey to earning a Division I opportunity at RIT,” said Bruce.
Thinking of trying out for the Tomahawks?
Look no further than the success story of Nick Bruce!
“We are eagerly looking forward to find more players who had the impact Nick Bruce and others have had on our program at our upcoming camps,” Letizia said.
Players, your opportunity awaits you. Sign up today to kickstart your journey to college hockey. Registration is available by clicking here.
Questions? Please email coach Letizia at firstname.lastname@example.org.