Rising Through the Ranks: Former Tomahawks Attend NHL Camps

Four former Tomahawks players recently attended some NHL development camps during the week of June 24th. The four young men attending these camps are Ryan Bednard – former Johnstown Goalie, Carson Briere – former Johnstown Center/ Right Wing, Filips Buncis – former Johnstown Center, and Vincent Purpura – former Johnstown Goalie. These guys will be attending development camps in Florida, Philadelphia, Colorado, and Montreal, respectively. The NHL teams hold these camps during the summer for those who have been drafted onto their teams and those who are free agents. In order to go to these development camps, the young men must receive an invitation from the NHL team asking them to attend, so to say that the players are ‘excited’ about this opportunity would be an understatement!

These four guys have been waiting for an opportunity like this for their whole lives, and knowing how they each played when they were in Johnstown, it goes without saying that this is well-deserved. Here’s a recap of some highlights from each young man’s playing time with the Tomahawks and what they’ve been up to since leaving Johnstown:

First of all, Ryan Bednard, who is attending the Florida Panthers development camp, played in Johnstown during the 2014-2015 season. He only played one season with the Tomahawks, but he received the Tomahawks Rookie of the Year award during that season. He participated in the Top Prospects tournament and also played in the All American Prospects Game, both in 2015. 2015 continued to be an excellent year for Bednard, as he was selected that year in the NHL Draft by the Florida Panthers as well. Ryan has recently completed his college career at Bowling Green State University. He signed with the Panthers after his junior year. Ryan Bednard has played for the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL and for the Bowling Green State University Falcons since his time in Johnstown. Bednard is also currently slated to play with the Springfield Thunderbirds of the AHL for the upcoming 2019- 2020 season.

Moving on to Carson Briere, the former Tomahawks forward has plenty to be proud of going into the Philadelphia Flyers’ development camp. Briere played with the Tomahawks during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons, and received several awards during his time here. In his first season he received the Most Improved Player award. In his second and final season in Johnstown, he received the Offensive Player of the Year award and was named 2018-19 MVP both in Johnstown and in the NAHL East Division overall. He was named to the NAHL 1st All Star Team and participated in the NAHL Top Prospect Tournament in the 2018-19 season. Carson holds the single season goal scoring record as well as the single season point total record for the Tomahawks. Briere just finished a pretty great season with the Tomahawks, getting a total of 89 points in 59 games played, and, after committing to Arizona State University this past fall, he is slated to play for the Arizona State University Sun Devils in the coming season. Since Carson will be going to the Flyers’ development camp, it is interesting to note that Briere’s father, Danny Briere, played for the Flyers from 2007 to 2012, being named the assistant captain in the 2011-12 season.

Filips Buncis played with the Tomahawks for three seasons: 2014-15, 2016-17, 2017-18. During his time in Johnstown, Buncis participated in two NAHL Top Prospects Tournaments, in 2016 and in 2017. Filips played an especially big role on the team in the 2016-2017 season, as he was named team captain that season. He committed to Arizona State University during his time here, and this year he will be a junior at the university. Buncis has been playing for Arizona State University for the past two years and is gearing up for a third season with the Sun Devils. Buncis has decided to attend the development camp of the Colorado Avalanche.

Lastly, Vincent Purpura, who will be attending the Montreal Canadiens development camp, played in Johnstown during the 2016-17 season as well as the 2017-18 season. His first year with the Tomahawks, Purpura received the Most Improved Player award. This year (2018-19) was Vinnie’s freshman year at Boston University. Since leaving the Tomahawks, Purpura has played for the Omaha Lancers, The Youngstown Phantoms, and, of course, has recently concluded a season with the Boston University Terriers.

Coach Letizia, of course, was quite proud to see what these guys are doing. “It shows our guys are doing the right things, and when they get to college they continue to do the right things. As a coach, it’s very rewarding to see that.”

Overall, these four players have great track records going into these development camps. They are eager to learn what only the pros can teach them, and there is no doubt that they will come away from this experience with a deeper knowledge of the game they love and a greater hunger for developing their talents and reaching new heights.