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Johnstown Finds Winning Ways in NAHL Showcase Junior Hockey News

Published: Monday, 23 Sep 2013  
By: Jon Kohan


          

The Johnstown Tomahawks of the NAHL were one of a few teams that got their season underway before the NAHL Showcase Tournament. Like last season, they didn't start the season they way they wished and looked to the Showcase to pick up their first win.

 

The first game against Amarillo was a close contest, five on five, but it was special teams yet again where Johnstown struggled and ultimately lost to the Bulls, 6-3.

 

The following day, Johnstown, faced off against the Topeka RoadRunners. Johnstown looked to have finally found the receipt to a win, but after taking a 2-1 lead in the second period the team fell apart. What came next was four goals in a row by the RoadRunners to take a 5-2 lead in the third period.

 

It looked like the team was in line to lose another game. Head coach Jason Spence called a time out and lit a fire under his players. "He wanted us to calm down and get back to the little things. Get back to playing the way we (know we) can", said Tomahawks' forward, Matt Meier.

 

The Tomahawks' would listen to their head coach, and in a span of just under three minutes they tied the game up at five.

 

Brandon Reinholz scored at 7:50. Jordan Watt scored a power play goal at 9:53. Newcomer, Shane Cuckovich tied the game at 10:28, which was enough to force overtime, giving the Tomahawks' their first point of the season.

 

The game would go to a shootout and Johnstown wasn't able to score any goals against Blake Wojtala.

 

"It took a little while to figure out what would work at this level compared to what some of us (had experienced) last year", said Meier. DeAugustine added, "We have a bunch of new guys on the team and most of them have never played with each other. It takes time to build chemistry with you teammates."

 

Johnstown looked to build on their shootout loss against the Aberdeen Wings. Players also began to relax and even though they didn't win vs. the RoadRunners the day before, they had figured out what it would take to win.

 

That's when things began to click for the Tomahawks and they started to play the way many Johnstown fans believed they were capable of.

 

First they beat the Aberdeen Wings, with a shutout by Colin DeAugustine, 3-0. They followed up that win with another solid game and victory over last year's Robertson Cup runners up, the Bismarck Bobcats, 3-1.

 

"I just put the other games behind me and had to play my game like I know (I can)", said DeAugustine.

 

DeAugustine saw action in every game at the Showcase. He didn't play bad vs. Amarillo, as five of the goals were scored on the power player, but DeAugustine wasn't making any excuses. "I'm still the goalie and it's my job to stop the pucks shot on me no matter what", said DeAugustine.

 

Vs. Topeka, DeAgustine came into the game to relieve starter Brett Young. "The second game I did okay, but I feel letting up all three goals in the (shootout) was unacceptable", said DeAugustine.

 

DeAugustine wanted to prove that he could shut the door, and he did just that for the last two games of the showcase. In total he turned away 46 of 47 shots.

 

The calming influence in net extended outwards as the defensemen shut down most chances both Aberdeen and Bismarck generated, and the offense pounced their opportunities.

 

Last year the Tomahawks' top line was Gylling-Kontny-Watt. So far this season Meier-Reinholz-Drabin is emerging as a line just as capable. "I love my line right now", said Meier.

 

During the Showcase the line combined for a total of 7 goals, 10 assists, which is good for 17 points. "I do have some great chemistry with Joe (Drabin) and love how hard he works, but also how skilled", said Meier. Currently Drabin leads the team in points with six points in six games.

 

The veteran on the line is Brandon Reinholz. Like Drabin, Reinholz not only has grit but also skill, something that Meier also sees first hand. "He works very hard and adds a little experience to our line".

 

Last season Reinholz played 53 games for the Tomahawks scoring 32 points (19 goals, 13 assists). He also was second on the team in penalty minutes with 126.

 

Reinholz is part of the Tomahawks' captain rotation this season.

 

The 2013 NAHL Showcase was memorable for Meier for a personal reason. "I'm excited to say that I'll be playing for the Falcons (Air Force Academy) for the 2015-16 season", said Meier.

 

Meier is the first player on the Johnstown Tomahawks' 2013-2014 roster to make a college commitment. As of right now it's a verbal commitment and he and the team hopes to have more information soon.

 

Last year, Chris Truehl, who was the Tomahawks' number one goaltender, committed to Air Force and will begin his first season with the D1 team this season.

 

Overall, Meier feels that the team played well in the Showcase and hopes they can continue their winning ways in Soo this upcoming weekend.

 

"Although our scores didn't show it the first two games we played really well at times, and after those two games we just figured it out and it kinda clicked", said Meier. He added, "I'm very excited for the rest of the season after our performance (this past weekend)".
 
Scores:
 
Johnstown 3 Amarillo 6 Boxscore
Johnstown 5 Topeka 6 SO Boxscore
Johnstown 3 Aberdeen 0 Boxscore
Johnstown 3 Bismarck 1 Boxscore

 

 

 

The Tomahawks made a trade after the Showcase, sending Ryan Bittner and Jaycob McCombs both to the Minnesota Wilderness.

 

Ryan Bittner appeared in three games for the Tomahawks this season, registering no points, and was a -1.

 

This season, McCombs played in all six games, scoring one assist and was a -1.

 

Last season McCombs appearing in 42 games and he was able to register 15 points (8 goals, 7 assists). He was a +4 and had 61 penalty minutes.




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