JOHNSTOWN — The Johnstown Tomahawks of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) are proud to announce that head coach Mike Letizia will remain with the team as head coach for two more years.
Letizia recently signed a two-year contract extension to remain with the Tomahawks through the 2018-19 season.
“I am very grateful for the opportunity that the ownership has given me since I joined the organization in our inaugural season,” Letizia said. “Being able to continue to do what I love to do for this great organization is something that I take a lot of pride in, and have so much passion about it.”
The 31-year-old Chicago native began his career with the Tomahawks as the assistant coach during the team’s first two seasons before becoming the head coach. Previously, Letizia coached multiple local hockey teams as an active and valuable member of the Johnstown community.
Staying active in the community is important to Letizia, who currently lives in nearby Somerset with his wife and daughter.
“My family has become a part of the Tomahawks family and that probably means the most to me,” Letizia said. “My wife Alana and my daughter Myla are mine and the team's biggest fans and never miss a game, so being able to continue to share this with them is something that's very important.”
The Tomahawks have also had great success under Coach Letizia.
In his first season as head coach, six Tomahawks players committed to NCAA Division I programs, seven players went to play at NCAA Division III schools, and the team saw their first NHL draft pick in goaltender Ryan Bednard.
Last season, the Tomahawks won 31 regular season games and made it to the second round of the Robertson Cup playoffs for the first time since relocating to Johnstown. Additionally, 17 players from the 2015-16 team moved on to the collegiate level, which established a team record.
"The Tomahawks are excited to have Mike remain the head coach for two more season," team president Richard Bouchard said. "He is a valuable asset to the organization and highly devoted to the team and the Johnstown community. We look forward to seeing Mike continue to lead the Tomahawks to success."
As a player, Letizia spent four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League as a defenseman with the Plymouth Whalers, serving as an alternate captain for two seasons.
Letizia then signed his first professional contract with the Rockford IceHogs of the former United Hockey League. As an IceHog, Letizia was nominated for Rookie of the Year and won a Colonial Cup Championship in 2007.
“I truly love coming to the rink every day and being able to work with our players to help them achieve their goals. It is very gratifying to see our players move on to college, pro hockey and beyond,” Letizia said. “But maybe even more than that is the calls and texts from past players on holidays, during the season, or just to say hi and see how my family is doing. That's pretty special and really makes you feel the impact you can have on these players and that is what makes doing this so meaningful.”