Johnstown Announces 2019 NAHL Draft Class


On Tuesday, the Johnstown Tomahawks participated in the 2019 NAHL Draft. Over 200 prospective players took part in this year’s draft, all hoping for a shot at becoming the newest member of one of the NAHL’s twenty-six teams. Speaking of which, the number of teams has grown this year, as the newly added Maine Nordiques and New Mexico Ice Wolves have joined the NAHL, giving a greater chance for the prospective players to be drafted to a team.

When asked what the best part about the draft is, head coach Mike Letizia had this to say: “The draft is super exciting because it really feels like the first day of the next season. You have your returning players, your tendered players, you’ve gone through your camps and identified great free agents, and then you complete the draft. Put all of those players together and get ready for main camp. It was also great to see coach Nick go to work on the draft. He puts a lot of efforts into our scouting throughout the season and seeing his excitement was super contagious.”

The Johnstown Tomahawks had twelve picks this year, which gave the coaches the opportunity to enhance and mold the team through their selections to make this season even better than the last.

“We are excited about the picks we made this year. We were able to land a lot of our targeted players. We feel there is a nice blend of skill and hard-nosed type players up front, some very versatile two-way type d men on the back end, and then a young goalie with some incredibly high upside and potential.”

The New Players

Overall, the Tomahawks chose seven forwards, four defensemen, and one goalie. When asked what he was looking for from this year’s draft, head coach Letizia said, “With how many players we lost from this year’s roster, we were looking for a little bit of everything. We had to identify players who could fit into how we like to play, but also, we needed to find kids who were quality people as well to fit into what we have here.”

The question everyone wants the answer to is: who are the new guys? Our first round selection was Connor Sleeth, a forward from Unionville, Ontario. His last team was the Kanata Lasers, and in his 2018-19 season with them, he posted 33 goals and 39 assists for a total of 72 points in 62 games played.

In the second round, Johnstown selected center Noah Basarab from the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. Basarab is from Gimli in Manitoba. In his latest season, he put up 43 points (20 goals, 23 assists) in 49 games played.

For the third round, Johnstown’s selection was Nathan Berke, a forward who suited up for the Buffalo Jr. Sabres. He posted 13 goals and 22 assists for a total of 35 points in the 52 games he played in this past season.

In round four, the Tomahawks’ pick was Alex Dalton, a forward from Andover, MA. In his 2018-19 season with the Spruce Grove Saints, Dalton tallied twelve points in 41 games played.

Our team did not have a fifth round pick, and so the sixth round selection was Colin Purcell, the only goalie the Tomahawks drafted in this year’s draft. Purcell’s hometown is Shaker Heights, Ohio, and in his 2018-19 season, he played 16 games with a goals against average of 3.74 and a saves percentage of .881.

Johnstown’s seventh round pick went to Evan Benwell, the brother of Oliver Benwell, a Tomahawks member from last year. Benwell is a right wing from Toronto who last played with the Burlington Cougars. He scored 17 goals and had 18 assists in 37 games this past season.

In round eight, the Tomahawks selected Brennan McDonnell, a right defenseman from Auberndale, Florida. His 2018-19 season left him with 16 total points (four goals, twelve assists) in 52 games played.

In the ninth round, Johnstown selected Lars Olson, also a right defenseman, from the Winnipeg Blues. Olson is from St. Cloud Minnesota, and in his last season, he posted four points in 47 games played.

Coming into the tenth round, the Tomahawks’ pick was Maxim Kouznetsov, from Voorhees, New Jersey. As a center for the Connecticut Jr. Rangers, his latest season held 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists) in 43 games played.

In round eleven, Johnstown selected forward Thomas Finck from the North Jersey Avalanche 18U. Finck put up 11 points (eight goals, three assists) in the 18 games he played in his latest season.

Our round twelve pick was Sean Detloff, a left defenseman from Harrison Township, Michigan. He suited up for the Lac St.- Louis Revolution in 2018-19, and tallied 4 goals and 16 assists for a total of 20 points in 39 games played.

Last but not least, the Tomahawks finished off their draft picks in round thirteen with Dinmukhamed Dzhangarashev, right defenseman from the Binghamton Jr. Senators. Dzhangarashev’s hometown is Moscow, Russia, and in his latest season, he posted 19 goals and 51 assists for a total of 70 points in 44 games.

What Does the New Season Hold?

The upcoming season will be sure to bring plenty of ups and downs, and a lot of improvement by the new players. A bonding of the team throughout the season will be necessary to ensure their success in crucial games. Our coach had some advice to give the new players coming into their first season in the NAHL.

“There is never an easy day in this league, and egos need to be checked at the door the day you walk in to Johnstown. Players need to bring their best every single day on and off the ice. The bar has been set extremely high after the 2018-2019 season, but last year is over, and now we need to write our own story in 2019-2020.”

The team is looking forward to another great season here in Johnstown, and the coaches and players are excited to begin prepping for main camp and all the events between now and the beginning of the 2019-2020 season.