What comes to mind when you hear Belfast?
Capital of Northern Ireland may be one.
Where the RMS Titanic was built could be another.
What about a hockey town?
You may not believe it but Belfast is a bona fide hockey town, alright. Just ask Chris Truehl.
Tomahawks fans will undoubtedly recall when Truehl took his place between the pipes for the Tomahawks during the inaugural 2012-13 season. The Stoughton, Wisc., native was a key member of a team that brought hockey back to Johnstown.
It was the team’s chance to shine in a new spotlight. And Truehl’s to shine for collegiate scouts.
He cites Johnstown as having a big influence on his hockey career.
“It was playing for Johnstown where I received the scholarship offer to Air Force, the first of two legs in my college journey,” Truehl said. “Playing in Johnstown did countless slightly less obvious things to help me prepare. Things like learning to be somewhat of a public figure, getting experience visiting schools and hospitals, and needing to play at a high level every night for a ton of games in a season have all suited me well at higher levels. Lastly, Johnstown and junior hockey as a whole, somewhat prepared me for playing professionally in that hockey is your job. You have to play well to stay where you are, you can be fired or picked up on a whim, you cannot take anything personally, and hockey must be your biggest focus.”
Truehl backstopped a Tomahawks team that chipped away to a playoff appearance in its first NAHL season. He started 38 games for the team, finishing with a 2.33 goals against average and a .923 save percentage.
Despite falling short in the post-season, Truehl stated he holds those memories of the 2012-13 Tomahawks close.
“I have so many fond memories of Johnstown,” Truehl said. “I will never forget skating out on to the ice before our first ever home game…there was fire, and lights, and sellout crowd. The junior teams that I played for before Johnstown never had the audience, support, or theatrics, so this was one of a kind.”
“I will also always remember Johnstown fondly as one of the most professional organizations that I have had the honor of playing in…everything was pure class, something even more impressive since it was their inaugural year.”
The 6-3 netminder reported to Colorado Springs to attend the Air Force Academy, where he would play two seasons. He then transferred to Quinnipiac University in 2014-15 and earned a ECAC Championship with the Bobcats in 2015-16.
His collegiate career ended with a title so Truehl made the decision to turn pro.
Truehl initially landed in Boise with the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads but things didn’t work out so he took his talents across the pond to Great Britain.
Enter the Belfast Giants.
The Giants play in the Elite Ice Hockey League, which was founded in 2003. The EIHL skates teams in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales with 12 teams in total.
The team averages close to 5,000 fans per game, making them one of the best-supported teams in the UK.
“Playing in Belfast has been great,” Truehl said. “Belfast is a beautiful city with a big heart, that just so happens to love hockey and the Giants. We have incredible fans, great accommodations, and a pretty impressive arena. I think that you would be hard pressed to find any team that means as much to its city and fans as Belfast, and they show it in different ways every day.
My first pro season has had its ups and downs, but has been a great experience so far,” Truehl said. “I have been playing well in Belfast and both on ice and off ice has been awesome.”