Former Hawks set to Play in College Classic in Johnstown!

PITTSBURGH — The Robert Morris University men’s hockey team, in conjunction with the Johnstown Tomahawks 

of the North American Hockey League, is proud to announce an exhibition game against Ontario Tech on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020 at Johnstown’s historic 1st Summit Arena at Cambria County War Memorial.

The 2020 College Classic, presented by UPMC Health Plan, will mark the first time an NCAA Division I college hockey team will play 

at Johnstown’s signature 69-year-old venue. In addition to being the home of the classic feature film ‘Slap Shot,’ the War Memorial has hosted high-level hockey since 1950. 

“The entire Colonials organization is excited to bring Division I hockey to one of the most recognizable sports venues in the United States,” head coach Derek Schooley said. “We look forward to showcasing our team to the great hockey community of Johnstown.”

The 2019-20 Colonials will feature three student-athletes who played their junior hockey in Johnstown with the Tomahawks: Senior Luke Lynch and freshmen Cameron Hebert and Roman Kraemer. Western Pennsylvania natives Lynch and Kraemer played two seasons in Johnstown before joining the Colonials, while Hebert skated in one season there.

“Johnstown is my second home and always will be,” said Lynch, the Tomahawks’ scoring leader in 2015-16. “I cannot express how grateful I am for all the people I’ve met and the memories I hold. It’s going to be surreal getting to play another game there.”

Tickets for the matchup are available on Ticketmaster.com or in person at the 1st Summit Arena box office for $10 apiece.

“I loved playing there,” said Hebert, who scored 93 points between regular season and playoffs for last year’s Tomahawks. “The fans are crazy. It’s one of my favorite places to play.”

The Tomahawks came into existence in 2012-13, replacing the departed Chiefs, who competed in the ECHL from 1987 through 2010. Previous to that, the Johnstown Jets skated in four different pro leagues from 1950-77.

The Jets and the Cambria County War Memorial were the inspiration for the movie ‘Slap Shot,’ which starred the late Paul Newman as the fictional Chiefs’ player-coach and current RMU Island Sports Center executive director Dave Hanson as one-third of the troublemaking Hanson Brothers.

Now entering their eighth season, the Tomahawks compete in the NAHL, which provides opportunity for junior-aged players to compete at a high level and develop their hockey skills while maintaining their NCAA eligibility.

“It’ll be awesome to go back and play in front of all the fans in Johnstown,” said Kraemer, who tallied 88 points for the Tomahawks over two seasons. “Can’t wait to be there again. It’s an old-school hockey town.”

In addition to hosting the Tomahawks, the War Memorial jumped back into the international spotlight in 2015, when it won the Kraft Hockeyville rink renovation contest. Prior to hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning in an NHL preseason game, the building underwent $450,000 worth of improvements triggered by winning an online fan vote.

RMU is ready to embark upon its 16th NCAA Division I season, starting with an opening weekend series against Michigan Tech on Oct. 5-6 at the Island Sports Center. The full schedule, which includes 16 home dates and a game against Penn State at PPG Paints Arena, can be accessed here.

Led by Schooley since the start of the program, the Colonials have qualified for a league-record-tying six consecutive Atlantic Hockey final fours, a stretch that includes two regular-season crowns and an NCAA tournament appearance in 2014. They boasted five Atlantic Hockey Student-Athletes of the Year in 2018-19, and 23 league academic honorees overall.