Mike Letizia will be behind the bench as the Tomahawks head coach for his seventh season. Letizia, originally from Chicago, served as the team’s assistant coach during their first two seasons.
During his first season as head coach, six Tomahawks made commitments to NCAA Division 1 programs, with seven players also playing at the NCAA Division 3 level. In addition, the Tomahawks also had their first ever player drafted to the NHL, goaltender Ryan Bednard to the Florida Panthers. In his second season as head coach, the Tomahawks set franchise highs for points, wins, and goals scored. The team also captured its first playoff series victory in team history. Another major highlight of Coach Letizia’s second season as head coach was a team record 17 NCAA commitments.
In 2016-2017, Letizia’s third season as head coach, the team once again set franchise highs in wins (40), point total (84), and goals scored (204). Additionally, a league high 7 players attended the NAHL’s Top Prospects Event with Letizia serving as Assistant Coach of the East Division team, and 5 Tomahawks players received NCAA Division 1 commitments during the season. In 2017-2018, 3 players received NCAA Division 1 commitments.
In 2018-2019, Letizia led the Tomahawks to the best season in franchise history. 8 players received NCAA Division 1 commitments. He was selected as the Head Coach for the East Division at the NAHL’s Top Prospects event. The Tomahawks captured their first East Division Regular Season title and also won the NAHL’s President’s Trophy as Regular Season champions with an overall record of 47-9-4 for 98 points. This set franchise highs for wins and points. At the conclusion of the Regular Season, Letizia was chosen as the East Division Coach of the Year and GM of the Year. The Tomahawks won the East Division Playoff Championship advancing to the Robertson Cup Championship for the first time in team history. Letizia was recognized as the 2018-2019 NAHL’s Coach of the Year.
In 2019-2020, the Tomahawks once again compiled a strong season finishing with a record of 34-13-2-2 in 51 games before the season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Away from the ice, Letizia participated as an ambassador in the Real Men Wear Pink campaign to help raise support and awareness in the fight against breast cancer. At the conclusion of his October campaign, he raised over $10,000 for the American Cancer Society. During this season, Letizia was named as Assistant Coach of the East Division for the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament. Additionally, several players received NCAA Division 1 and Division 3 commitments. Letizia recorded his 200th win as Head Coach in the final game of the shortened 2019-2020 season. At the conclusion of the shortened season, Letizia was named NAHL East Division Coach of the Year for the second straight season.
During the 2020-2021 season, Letizia once again led the Tomahawks to the East Division Regular season title compiling a record of 39-10-5 for 83 points and a .769 Win Percentage. Once again, several Tomahawk players made NCAA Division 1 and Division 3 commitments. At the conclusion of the Regular Season, Letizia was named the East Division Coach of the Year for the third straight season.
As a junior player, Letizia spent four seasons in the OHL with the Plymouth Whalers after being selected in the fourth round of the 2002 OHL Draft. He served as one of the team captains for two seasons. The defenseman signed his first professional contract with the Rockford Icehogs of the former United Hockey League. During his time there, Letizia won a Colonial Cup Championship in 2007.
Letizia currently resides in Somerset, PA with his wife Alana, their daughter Myla and son Niko.
Dave Dunkleberger was elevated to the Assistant Coach role during the 2020-2021 season, and will be the full-time assistant coach in 2021-2022. Dave has been a part of the organization since the 2014-2015 season as a part of coach Letizia’s staff. Primarily serving as the team’s equipment manager in his first few seasons, his role evolved into a valuable member of the coaching staff over the last four.
Dave will help with player recruiting, on and off ice team planning/development, as well as working with the team’s goaltenders.
“Dave has shown that his contributions always go above and beyond what is asked of him, ” stated coach Letizia. ” He has been with me since day 1, and deserves a chance to continue to grow. He has served in a coaching role over the course of the past few seasons when there was any type of void, and has done an outstanding job with anything asked of him. Given his understanding of what we expect of ourselves and our players, his dedication, and his commitment to helping our players, he was ready to evolve and take the next step within our organization.”
On the ice, he spent 4 seasons backstopping the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown as the starting goalie. He was selected to 2 CHE All Star Games. Additionally, he led the Ice Cats to the CHE championship his senior year, as well as a trip to the ACHA National Tournament.
In his role as Equipment Manager, the Johnstown native has worked his way up to becoming one of the most respected people in the North American Hockey League for the dedicated service he provides to the Tomahawks, as well as other members of the league while serving as the Head Equipment manager of the NAHL’s Top Prospects and Robertson Cup events for the past several years. In 2019, Dunkleberger was selected to be a part of Team NAHL for their inaugural trip to Sochi , Russia to participate in the Junior Club World Cup. In addition, Dunkleberger has been selected to be a member of the equipment staff for various USA Hockey events including the All American Top Prospects Game, the NTDP Evaluation Camp, and the Warren Strelow Goaltending Camp.
ON AND OFF ICE DEVELOPMENT COACH
Chris Trouba will enter his first full season as part of the coaching staff in 2021-2022. Trouba returned to the Tomahawks in a different role for the 2020-2021 season. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Chris’s season at Plattsburgh State University was canceled bringing him back to the Tomahawks in a different role. He has since completed his playing career while embarking on his new coaching journey.
Trouba will help assist the coaching staff with individual skill development of players, video instruction, and off-ice training.
“Chris was an incredible part of the Tomahawks organization for 4 seasons,” said coach Letizia. “While it was heartbreaking to see Chris’s career end with injury, we all feel that Chris can provide a lot of help to our team working with players on their on ice development, as well as helping them understand the off-ice element and navigation of Johnstown, the NAHL, and junior hockey as a whole through his experience.”
On the ice, he spent 4 seasons Johnstown after tendering before the 2016-2017 season. Prior to the 2017-2018 season, Trouba was named an Assistant Captain. During this season, he was selected as the team’s Defensive Player of the Year. In 2018-2019, Chris was named the 7th Captain in team history. Chris was chosen to represent the East Division at the 2019 NAHL Top Prospects tournament. It was also this season, that he would lead the Tomahawks to their best record in franchise history, an East Division Regular Season and Playoff Championship, an NAHL Regular Season title, and a trip to the Robertson Cup Championship Series where he was named to the All Tournament Team. During the summer of 2019, he was chosen to represent the Tomahawks with Team NAHL at the World Junior Cup in Sochi, Russia. In the 2019-2020 season, which was cut short for Trouba due to injury and the COVID-19 pandemic, he was selected as the recipient of the NAHL Leadership Award.
ASSISTANT TO HOCKEY OPERATIONS
Donovan Ott returns to the Tomahawks in an off-ice capacity assisting the coaching staff with game preparations. One of the best players to ever wear a Tomahawks uniform, Ott spent the entire 2016-2017 season in Johnstown, and part of the 2017-2018 season. He then advanced to the NCAA Division 1 ranks with the RPI Engineers during the the 2017-2018 season. Ott finished his playing career at Utica College.
During his time in Johnstown, Ott complied 39 goals and 33 assists for a total of 72 points in 74 games. Additionally, he was an Assistant Captain during his tenure, and was selected to the 2017 NAHL Top Prospects Game.
Ott will assist the coaching staff remotely while completing his college career in New York. His roles will include but not be limited to opposition pre-scout, video analysis, and statistical breakdowns.
Off-Ice Support Staff
MASSAGE REHABILITATION AND THERAPY
PA-LICENSED MASSAGE THERAPIST
Greg Chamberlain – Boston Area
Dave Kosick – NAPHL/Pittsburgh Area
Yuri Krivokhija -NAPHL/Pittsburgh Area
Casey Linkenheld – Chicago/Midwest Area
Rex Trott- Michigan Area
Mitch Hall – Minnesota Area
Jordan Watt – California/ Western US Area
Equipment Support Staff