The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

September 6, 2013

Guerin to drop puck for Tomahawks

JOHNSTOWN — The puck drops here.

At least that’s what the Johnstown Tomahawks have in mind for former Stanley Cup-winning Pittsburgh Penguins forward Bill Guerin.

Guerin will drop the ceremonial first puck and help the Tomahawks face off their second North American Hockey League Tier II Junior A season at Cambria County War Memorial Arena on Sept. 14.

“We couldn’t have found a better person to do this,” said Tomahawks President Richard Bouchard after Thursday’s announcement. “With Bill’s character, he’s a great influence to young men who are trying to move on in their hockey careers.”

Last season, the Tomahawks played their first home game in front of a sellout crowd as Penguins Hall of Fame owner Mario Lemieux dropped the ceremonial first puck.

The Tomahawks’ ownership group and Penguins have a solid relationship that resulted in multiple cooperative efforts. Penguins Matt Cooke and Chris Kuntiz signed autographs for hours during a Tomahawks game. Pens mascot Iceburgh made an appearance. Former Pittsburgh player and current broadcaster Phil Bourque was at a meet-and-greet event prior to last season.

A group of locked out Penguins players had agreed to participate in a charity game at the War Memorial, but plans were scrapped days before the sold-out event when the NHL lockout ended.

“The relationship between the Penguins and Tomahawks and our ownership group is very strong,” Bouchard said. “When we talked to Bill about doing this he was more than happy to come and show his support of what the Tomahawks are doing with hockey in western Pennsylvania.”

Guerin, 42, joined the Penguins late during the 2008-09 season and helped the Sidney Crosby-led team win its first Stanley Cup in 17 years and third overall. The right wing retired a year later after an 18-year career that included two Stanley Cup wins. He is in his third season as a player development coach for the Penguins.

“The idea has always been to bring an entertainment value to our hockey fans in Johnstown,” Tomahawks General Manager Rick Boyd said. “A guy like Bill Guerin exemplifies what Johnstown hockey is all about with his demeanor and his style. It’s another exciting time for the Tomahawks and their fans.”

Boyd said Guerin brought intangibles to the Pittsburgh lineup and helped the team take the next step after losing to Detroit in the 2008 Cup Final.

“The key word to Bill Guerin is leadership,” Boyd said. “When the Penguins made a move to bring him in, it was to solidify their leadership in the locker room. Obviously he could play the game and he played a tough, gritty style. The passion and leadership he brought to the Penguins was the most important thing.”

The home portion of the Tomahawks’ season will once again begin at 5 p.m. Sept. 14 with a HockeyFest on Napoleon Street adjacent to the War Memorial. Last year, 2,000 fans participated in the pregame event, which included food, music and other activities.

The Tomahawks will face the Port Huron Fighting Falcons at 7:30 p.m., following an indoor fireworks display.

“The exciting part is that our entire organization did a fabulous job of recruiting,” Boyd said. “Not only do we have some good veterans coming back, but we also have some really exciting young guys coming into their first year of Junior and you’re going to see some of these guys on the first or second line in their first year.”

Boyd listed new forwards Shane Bernard, Collin Finkhouse, Joe Drabin and Trevor Recktenwald as potential scorers. Defensemen Alex Jaeckle, Brady Bender and Ryan Bittner are top additions as well as experienced goaltender Alex O’Kicki from the former Kalamazoo team.

“One of the things we wanted to improve in the offseason was getting guys who can score goals,” Boyd said. “We potentially have four power-play lines dressing every night. Some teams in the league they have guys they have to hide in the lineup. We have four lines, six defensemen and two goalies we can dress every night and we don’t have to hide.”

The Tomahawks continue to be community oriented. The team is in the middle of a 30-day stretch in which players interact with the community through visits to hospitals, schools, festivals or by personally delivering season tickets.

“It’s been fantastic. I couldn’t be more pleased,” Bouchard said. “We promised from the very first day that we’d be out in the community and promoting youth hockey and doing what we can in schools and hospitals. From our veterans to our rookies, they’re more than willing to be involved. It shows what class that these young men have at such a young age.”

Bouchard believes the commitment and passion will carry over to the ice.

“We’re really looking forward to the second season,” Bouchard said. “We want to take our hockey to the next level and try to win the Robertson Cup. We think we’ve put together a real strong squad and I think the people of Johnstown are going to be happy.”

Mike Mastovich is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/masty81.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
  • Pirates Brawl 0420 Brewers top Pirates in game highlighted by dustup

    Ryan Braun homered in the ninth inning to tie it, then Khris Davis hit a home run in the 14th that put Milwaukee ahead for good.
    Yet those were hardly the big blows that attracted all the attention Sunday in the Brewers’ 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Football team ends boycott of embattled coach

    Minnesota State University-Mankato’s football team has ended its boycott of reinstated head coach Todd Hoffner, who successfully fought child pornography charges and other misconduct accusations that removed him from the job for 20 months.
    Hoffner said he assured the players, who refused to take the practice field Wednesday, that interim coach Aaron Keen, who led the team in Hoffner’s absence, will continue in a major role with the team.

    April 20, 2014

  • Penguins 0420a Game 3 pivotal for both teams

    Not so long ago, the Columbus Blue Jackets were the worst team in the NHL.
    Now they’re heading home for tonight’s Game 3 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series with the star-studded Pittsburgh Penguins, hoping to make even more history.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0419 Blue Jackets outlast Pens in double-OT

    Matt Calvert banged home a rebound 1:10 into the second overtime and the Columbus Blue Jackets earned the first playoff victory in franchise history with a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.
    Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury stuffed the initial shot by Cam Atkinson but Calvert stood all alone at the left post and wristed a shot into the open net to even the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at one game each.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates 0419 Brewers rally to clip Pirates

    Ryan Braun hit two homers, including a two-run shot with two outs in the ninth inning that sent the Milwaukee Brewers over the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 Saturday night.
    Braun has five home runs this season after being suspended for the last 65 games of 2013 following Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Biogenesis drug scandal.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Area runners gearing for Boston Marathon

    The time was 12:15 p.m. It was Monday April 19, 1897.  Tom Burke had drawn a line across the dirt road with his foot. Eighteen men gathered near Metcalf’s Mill in Ashland, Massachusetts.

    April 19, 2014

  • SRU vs UPJ baseball0418 1 UPJ takes one, drops second

    John Fees’ spring baseball season accurately mirrors that of his Pitt-Johnstown team.
    Fees started slow, losing his first four decisions, but has rebounded nicely in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Pirates 0418 Brewers ward off late Pirates rally bid

    Kyle Lohse pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Carlos Gomez homered and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 Friday night.
    Lohse (3-1) improved to 11-2 in his career against the Pirates, allowing one earned run in a win against them for the second time in six days.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Drama lacking sans Tiger

    If professional golf saw its future at Augusta National last weekend, the sight had to be worse than choking on a 5-foot putt.
    The course was there in all its splendor.

    April 18, 2014

  • Penguins 0418 Penguins are wary of spunky Blue Jackets

    Sidney Crosby is used to the attention. It comes with the territory when you’re the best hockey player in the world.
    Still, the Pittsburgh Penguins star knows the spotlight becomes more acute in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo