The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local Sports

September 30, 2012

History repeats for Boyd family

JOHNSTOWN — Throughout most of his 18 years, Cody Boyd had heard his father talk about that memorable January night in 1988.

Rick Boyd was among the original Johnstown Chiefs, a rough-and-tumble group organized in the middle of the All-American Hockey League season that year.

Those first Chiefs were heroes and celebrities in Johnstown. They set the foundation for the franchise’s 22-season run in the ECHL.

Rick Boyd’s account of that first Chiefs game at Cambria County War Memorial has been told and written about many times.

The former Chiefs captain and his teammates couldn’t believe the response and devotion Johnstown hockey fans gave this hastily assembled team. Rick Boyd fell in love with the city, married a Johnstown girl and raised a family here.

Nearly a quarter century later, Cody Boyd had a chance to repeat family history.

The Johnstown native is part of the Johnstown Tomahawks NAHL Junior A Tier II team that debuted on home ice Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd of 3,721.

Like his dad, Cody Boyd was overwhelmed by the turnout and response of the hockey-starved fans who now have a team of their own for the first time since the Chiefs moved to South Carolina in 2010.

“He built it up pretty big and it was bigger,” Cody Boyd said of the experience of sprinting though the tunnel and skating onto the ice for the first time in front of the Tomahawks fans.

“I couldn’t stand. I was so nervous, I was walking around in the locker room trying to kill time. Butterflies in my stomach. When I finally hit the ice and heard all the fans, it was the greatest feeling I could ever have.”

The Tomahawks gave the crowd plenty to cheer about, but eventually lost 3-2 in an overtime shootout.

“It was one of a kind,” Cody Boyd said. “You’ll never get that in another rink, playing in front of all the people back home. It was great, 4,000 people screaming, it was great.”

The whole day was a celebration.

Perhaps appropriately, a construction crew worked on the Napoleon Street Bridge replacement project late Saturday afternoon.

Workers operated heavy machinery and cement moved up a chute and onto the the new portion of the bridge. Half a block away, a different type of heavy metal could be heard as the band “Day Well Spent” played outside the War Memorial Arena.

Hundreds of people gathered for HockeyFest in conjunction with the home opener.

“To go out there before the game and see 2,000 people on the sidewalk was fantastic,” Tomahawks coach Jason Spence said.

Saturday almost represented a hockey bridge from the pro game and the Chiefs to the junior game and the Tomahawks.

Many former Chiefs fans and season ticket holders reunited on Napoleon Street. Former Chiefs and NHL equipment manager Mic Midderhoff stopped by, and former Chiefs President Jim Edwards Sr. was there.

The big blue bird Chopper – the Tomahawks’ mascot – schmoozed with mascots Mister Froggy and a Subway sandwich.

People wearing Tomahawks attire joined those in Chiefs and Penguins jerseys. Some wore No. 66  in honor of Penguins Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux, who dropped the ceremonial first puck.

“(Lemieux) came in and said some words to us before the game, which was pretty cool,” said Tomahawks forward Brandon Reinholz, who scored a goal and a knockout punch during a fight with Michigan’s Garrett Procahazk. “He just said to go out there and have fun and good luck.”

Once on the ice, the players and fans witnessed one of the most spectacular pyrotechnic events in War Memorial history, with fireworks, explosions, smoke and flames filling all ends of the arena.

“Our staff did a good job of preparing us so we did a dress rehearsal after a practice,” Spence said. “Everybody was ready for it but I don’t think anybody was expecting something that spectacular.

“With the fireworks and everything it was like the NHL. Fantastic.”

The Tomahawks didn’t win the game, but they took a big step toward winning the heart of a city.

Mike Mastovich is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local Sports
  • Pirates 0417 Pirates power past Brewers

    Andrew McCutchen hit his first homer of the season and drove in three runs, Pedro Alvarez had a three-run shot and pinch-hitter Josh Harrison broke a tie with a long ball in the seventh inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates handed the Milwaukee Brewers their first road loss, 11-2 on Thursday night.
    Harrison’s two-run drive down the left field line off Rob Wooten (0-1) was the second of his career as a pinch hitter.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0417 Jackets preparing for Game 2

    The Columbus Blue Jackets don’t feel they’re doomed after blowing a two-goal lead in a Game 1 loss of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
    “It’s not about missed chances, or feeling sorry about it,” goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky said at Thursday’s optional workout, 13 hours after falling 4-3 in Pittsburgh.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local Sports Briefs

    April 17, 2014

  • racin 0416 Jennerstown Speedway gearing for May open

    Jennerstown Speedway released a very ambitious schedule on its website and continues to prepare for its 2014 reopening.
    The track is set to hold a practice day for drivers as well as an open house and media day on April 26.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘Hawks already building toward next season

    Jason Spence used up his cell phone’s battery on a trip from Johnstown to his parents’ home in Nova Scotia, Canada.
    Once the Johnstown Tomahawks coach got to his destination, Spence had to get creative to secure cell service across the border.

    April 16, 2014

  • Pirates 0416 Dominant Cueto drops Pirates in matinee

    That playoff loss in Pittsburgh last year? Johnny Cueto never thought about it much. So getting a chance to shut out the Pirates in a rematch wasn’t any more special.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0416 Penguins rally to wear out Jackets

    Brandon Sutter scored on a wrist shot from the left circle 8:18 into the third period, helping the Pittsburgh Penguins rally for a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Wednesday night.
    Beau Bennett and Matt Niskanen scored power-play goals 45 seconds apart in the second period, erasing Pittsburgh’s two-goal deficit.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shelley and McElligot Series serves as reunion for former Chiefs personnel

    Not so long ago, Bob McElligott, like most Western Pennsylvania hockey fans, would savor a long Pittsburgh Penguins playoff run.
    The Somerset native followed the Pens’ Stanley Cup-winning teams in 1991 and 1992.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Malkin nearing return

    The Columbus Blue Jackets are the closest NHL team to the Pittsburgh Penguins, at least geographically. The two franchises are separated by 185 miles of highway.

    April 15, 2014

  • Reds swing way past Pirates

    Mike Leake doubled and hit a two-run homer Tuesday night, ending Gerrit Cole's winning streak and leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 7-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates that completed two days full of homers and delays.
    First, the NL Central rivals completed a game that was suspended in the sixth inning because of rain the previous night.

    April 15, 2014

AP Video
Poll

Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide