Assistant Coach Mike Letizia takes his turn in the penalty box for this week's edition of "5 Minute Major."
Q: What does hockey mean to you? How has it changed or shaped your life?
A: Hockey has meant everything to me. I started playing at two years old, and I have been able to travel to so many places in the U.S. and internationally while I played growing up. I've met some of my best friends through hockey, and I was personally inspired by how much my parents sacrificed for me to play. They were great role models for me growing up. I also had great billet families, and I met my wife, Alana, through my best friend Ryan Nie who was a teammate when I played juniors. He also played for the Chiefs. Needless to say, hockey has given me so much in life.
Q: Can you tell me more about your time as a regional amateur scout?
A: I worked for my former agent that I had in Chicago when I was playing. I watched different games throughout the area and scouted players who had potential to move beyond amateur hockey. Also, because I played junior hockey, I was able to talk to players about the process and give parents insight into what they could expect from the experience. There are players all over, and I just tried to make sure they are steered in the right direction as they pursue further hockey opportunities.
Q: What did you enjoy most about your time playing junior hockey, and what did you gain from the experience?
A: I loved everything about junior hockey. I will always tell people those were the best four years of my hockey life. The camaraderie amongst teammates was amazing. You become a family and do everything with them from practices to games and road trips. I played on four completely different types of teams throughout my seasons in juniors, and they were all great. I feel that I matured both on and off the ice, whether it was in the weight room, the classroom, or just being a member of the community. And I learned how much dedication it takes to be a successful player. I also got to play against some of the best players in the world. I feel like the Tomahawks are going to provide that type of atmosphere, and I'm really excited to be a part of it.
Q: What would you like to accomplish in this first season as an assistant coach?
A: First and foremost, I want to make sure that I am working my hardest every day to help the team. I will do everything I can for us to be successful. Jason Spence has been such a great role model for me as a Head Coach. He is probably the hardest working guy I have ever been around, and he really cares about what he does. I am really looking forward to working with him. We want to create opportunities for guys that play in Johnstown, and I am hoping to have a hand in helping these guys advance in their careers. We want to win here, and I know that we are going to do everything we can to develop our players on and off the ice.
Q: You're from Chicago. What do you love about Johnstown?
A: One of the best things about Johnstown is the War Memorial because of how much history it has. And, we don't have any mountains in Chicago, obviously. The thing that has been so great for me is all of the nice people I have met since I have been here for the past two years. People really care about you and try to make you feel at home. I have been fortunate to meet a lot of good people in the short time I have been here and that has really helped me adjust to being around the area. People don't make you feel like an outsider: You become part of the community, and I have really appreciated that.