What a difference a year makes.
This time last season, the Tomahawks were mired in a losing slump, compiling a record of 6-14-1 before Dec. 1.
The tide has turned in 2018-19.
Your Tomahawks have vastly improved those numbers from the previous year and currently enjoy a Johnstown hockey record 17-game winning streak.
That does not come without hard work and preparation, which according to head coach Mike Letizia, began immediately after the 2017-18 season ended.
“I thought we ended the year last season playing very well, but by that time it was too late,” Letizia said. “At the end of the season, we talked about improving and we had to make some personnel changes on the roster during the summer. The guys that were here that went through it have been able to change the way things have gone. Ultimately, the new players and our veterans are having fun together and trying to win hockey games.”
It may be stating the obvious, but winning is fun.
But having fun every game is a key component to this Tomahawks team.
“I think along the way, we’ve had games that we like and didn’t like how we played but we were able to find a way to win,” he said. “A sign of a good team is to be able to win when they’re not at their best. Their a really tight group in our locker room. Obviously, that helps. When you get along with your teammates and have fun together off the ice, you want to go to battle for them every night.”
The Tomahawks have received contributions from every player during this winning streak and also during the season. It has been a hallmark of the 2018-19 team that is a key role in any team’s success.
So far, every line and defensive combination is contributing.
“I don’t think we have a first, second, third or fourth line,” Letizia said. “When it’s five-on-five we feel confident with anyone we put out there because they all deserve it. Every game it could be a different line or a different guy; that’s the joy of it. The players are genuinely happy for their teammates success as they are for their own.”
And up and down the lineup, scoring came come from anyone.
Sam Solensky, Carson Brière and Cam Hebert comprise the top three in league scoring respectively. Brière leads the way in goals with 18, 13 of which have been scored on the power play.
But with a great offense, a solid tandem in net must follow along.
Carter McPhail and Cooper Lukenda have been a solid one-two punch in between the pipes for Letizia’s Tomahawks.
“Carter and Cooper have done a wonderful job so far,” he said. “Obviously, they’ve done their share to give us a chance to win. But it’s also on the guys in front of them. We all have to pull our own weight to ensure that we are achieving what we want.”
Seventeen games consecutively in the win column is a tremendous feat, however, Letizia will tell you that his team is not satisfied as the league calendar turns to December.
“We have to come to the rink every day and work hard,” Letizia said. “Teams will give us their best every night so we cannot be satisfied. The key for us is to improve every day and enjoy the grind. As good as things are going right now, we have to prepare for adversity because there are no easy days in the NAHL.”
The team returns to the friendly confines of 1st Summit Arena on Friday, Dec. 14 for a two-game matchup with the New Jersey Titans. December 15 is Souvenir Beanie Hat Giveaway Night with fans receiving their own beanie hat while supplies last.
Saturday, Dec. 15 is the popular Teddy Bear Toss Night. Fans are encouraged to bring a stuffed animal to toss onto the ice when the Hawks tally their first goal. Additionally, Santa Claus will meet fans during the game. The team encourages fans to dress in their ugly Christmas sweaters as well.