The Tomahawks are Johnstown’s first Junior A team and their arrival signals a return to the sport for the city. The city is famous for hosting the Johnstown Jets of the Eastern Hockey League (1950’s), and the Johnstown Chiefs (2000’s), the last teams to have played here. But the young Tomahawks promise to bring passionate, fast-paced hockey back to a town which has been waiting for the return of its beloved sport.
Junior Hockey and the NAHL:
The North American Hockey League (NAHL) is celebrating its thirty eighth season as a USA Hockey sanctioned Junior A circuit in the current 2013-2014 season. It contains twenty four teams from thirteen states which represent some of the nation’s emerging hockey talents and emerging hockey markets, along with the traditional hockey hotbeds.
The main purpose of the Junior Hockey circuit is to develop, administer and promote domestic USA Hockey programs for junior leagues, teams and players. The players are put through this development program to prepare them for a career in either collegiate programs or in the professional circuits.
Numerous NAHL alumni have gone on to play in big leagues like the NHL. Some of the game’s brightest stars like Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane, Detroit Red Wings goalkeeper Jimmy Howard, New York Islanders net minder Rick DiPietro and Vancouver Chucks forward Ryan Kesler have all passed through the Junior Hockey circuit.
The franchise was formed in the 1996 and played its first season the same year (1996-1997). Originally called the St. Louis Sting, the franchise spent five years in St. Louis and had a combined regular season record of 98-158-15. The team moved to Springfield, Missouri in 2001 and changed its name to the Springfield Spirit. After spending four seasons in Springfield, with a 71-133-20 regular season record, the team moved again, this time to Wasilla Alaska. They were renamed the Wasilla Spirit, and spent a year under that name, posting a 13-33-2 record. They were renamed the Alaska Avalanche the following year, a name they continued with till the 2011-2012 season. The team posted a 154—167-33 record in their six seasons as the Avalanche. The franchise then moved to Johnston and has now been renamed as the Johnston Tomahawks.
The team has admittedly been devoid of major success throughout its history, but that all looks to change as it opens a new chapter in its hockey books. Under Coach Jason Spence, the team looks strong and focused, hoping to put up a great show during this season. So get your tickets to the Tomahawks games, and come support the junior hockey stars of the country.