Johnstown, Pa. — The Johnstown Tomahawks will see plenty of new competition in the upcoming 2015-16 season as the only returning team in the NAHL’s new four-team East Division.
The league announced the 2015-16 division alignment on Tuesday, placing the Tomahawks in the newly formed East Division along with new clubs the Aston Rebels, New Jersey Jr. Titans and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights.
“The new East Division is a very exciting step for the NAHL and one that is reflective of the changing landscape in the league,” said NAHL Commissioner Mark Frankenfeld. “The NAHL has a wide variety of markets that have enabled our owners to sustain and grow their respective teams, so that they may continue to provide opportunities for the players and entertainment for the communities that support them. We feel like the new teams in the East will not only provide their teams with enhanced access to scouts and a deep player pool, but also allow them to showcase the type of hockey that has enabled the NAHL to thrive as a premier development league for 40 years now.”
The Aston Rebels announced their relocation to the Philadelphia suburb last week. The franchise played last season as the NAHL’s Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees, posted a 25-25-10 record in 2014-15, advancing to one of the South Division’s two play-in playoff series.
The New Jersey Jr. Titans will play in Middletown, N.J. at the 1,500-seat Middletown Ice World after relocating from the Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. Playing as the Soo Eagles last season, the team finished 31-25-4 and beat the Keystone Ice Miners in the first round of the North Division playoffs before falling to Janesville in the second round.
Wilkes Barre/Scranton joins the league as an expansion team after owners purchased the NAHL’s dormant Dawson Creek Rage franchise to enter the league. The Knights’ history dates back to 2005, when the team was founded as a member of the Tier III Eastern Hockey League (formerly the Atlantic Junior Hockey League).
The season schedule is yet to be finalized, but opening games will begin on Friday, Sept. 11.
The 13th annual NAHL Showcase Tournament, presented by Easton Hockey, will be held from September 23-26 at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota. All of the NAHL teams will play four regular-season games at the Showcase, which is one of hockey's most prestigious and well-attended events of the entire season.
The NAHL’s 2015-16 divisions will be:
Central Division: Aberdeen Wings, Austin Bruins, Bismarck Bobcats, Brookings Blizzard, Minnesota Magicians and Minot Minotauros.
East Division: Aston Rebels, Johnstown Tomahawks, New Jersey Titans and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights.
Midwest Division: Coulee Region Chill, Fairbanks Ice Dogs, Janesville Jets, Kenai River Brown Bears, Minnesota Wilderness and Springfield Jr. Blues
South Division: Amarillo Bulls, Corpus Christi IceRays, Lone Star Brahmas, Odessa Jackalopes, Topeka RoadRunners and Wichita Falls Wildcats.
The next on-ice activities for the Tomahawks will come next month as the team begins its annual Main Camp at Planet Ice in Richland Township. The camp will consist of 80 invitees, with the top players selected to play in the annual Red & Blue exhibition game at Planet Ice on Sunday, July 26.
The afternoon game will be free and open to the public. A time has not yet been announced.
Tomahawks season ticket packages are currently available by calling 814-536-4625 or registering at JohnstownTomahawks.com. Packages begin at less than $99 for adults and include a number of season ticket holder benefits.