Johnstown Tomahawks General Manager Rick Boyd today announced the team's 26-man roster for its inaugural season in the North American Hockey League, including leading scorer Gage Christianson and 12 other players who skated for the franchise last season in Alaska as well as three others with ties to Pennsylvania.
Coach Jason Spence's Tomahawks open the season with games Saturday and Sunday in Michigan against the Port Huron Fighting Falcons. The Tomahawks then play four games in four days Sept. 12-15 at the NAHL Showcase Tournament in Blaine, Minn., before returning home to host the Michigan Warriors on Sept. 29 and 30.
"Our staff invested many hours pursuing talent to conduct the most competitive training camp possible, and given the skill, determination and commitment of those who attended camp, the ensuing roster decisions were very, very difficult," Boyd said in a press release. "We believe the 26 players remaining with the team give us an excellent chance to make our first season in Johnstown a memorable one."
Christianson scored 16 goals and had 53 points in 59 games last season, finishing among the NAHL's top 25 scorers and 14th in assists, to help the Alaska Avalanche - who moved to Johnstown and became the Tomahawks - to the Robertson Cup playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. Also returning this season are forwards Brandon Brossoit, Codey Hansen, Evan Hesse, Mitch Kontny, Cobi Smith-Mass, Jordan Watt and Connor Wright. Returning defensemen include Kristaps Bazevics, Jeff Bergh, Jesse Kessler and Casey Nelson. Goaltender Bodhi Engum also spent last season in Alaska.
"We had to make a lot of very difficult decisions," Spence said in the press release. "But it's a good thing when you have hard decisions to make because it speaks to how many talented players you have. We have a lot of leadership and players who truly believe in each other and in this team."
Among the Tomahawks with ties to Pennsylvania are defenseman Cody Bentzel from Dauphin, forward Cody Boyd from Johnstown, and forward Bobby Tritschler from Lower Burrell.