The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

December 6, 2012

Tomahawks taking the road to success

JOHNSTOWN — With a two-game road series beginning tonight for the surging Johnstown Tomahawks against struggling Fresno, players spent the last couple days of a lengthy road trip preparing.

On Tuesday, the Tomahawks went bowling.

A day later, they went to the movies to watch “Skyfall” – the latest in the James Bond franchise.

Sure, Johnstown spent practice time on the ice, but, according to coach Jason Spence, activities like bowling and movies are as important to the Tomahawks’ recent success as anything else.

“Sometimes the road is good for a team. They’ve come together. They’re a real tight group,” Spence said Thursday, just minutes after the team concluded its movie night. “The players, they know each other and trust each other. They’re going hard and they’ve bought into what we’re doing.”

What Johnstown is doing of late is winning, and in bunches.

The Tomahawks (12-7-6, 30 points) have made a steady climb back into contention in the North Division of the North American Hockey League.

The fourth-place Tomahawks – a team that struggled on the road early in the season – take a 5-4-4 road record into tonight’s game at Fresno (6-13-3, 15 points), the last-place team in the West Division.

“Fresno has a lot of skill, a lot of good players,” Spence said. “It’s a really good team. We can’t take them lightly.”

Among the players on the Monsters roster is Brandon Broissot, a former Tomahawks forward.

Johnstown’s roster has seen several different faces added in recent weeks. All the fresh faces came in before the recent six-game road trip, which has included a four-game stay on the West Coast.

“When you’re on the road, there’s no way around it, you have to get to know each other,” Spence said. “You eat all your meals together. We all went to the theater. We went bowling. It’s been a real bonding experience.”

The trip started with a weekend sweep of Jamestown – the first-place team in the North – on Nov. 24-25.

“That was huge. It was real big to come off wins at the first-place team in our division and one of the best teams in the league,” Spence added. “Then we went to Wenatachee (Wash.) and showed how we could compete against one of the best teams in the west. The second game there, we couldn’t find the net but we put together two really good games.”

Cody Gylling leads the Tomahawks with 20 points (six goals, 14 assists). Captain Mitch Kontny has a team-high 12 goals and Brandon Reinholz has 11. Goalie Chris Truehl has played in 14 games and has a 2.46 goals against average.

“We have to make sure we take care of the puck,” Spence said. “There’s a checklist of things to go over before we’re really satisfied with how they’re playing. Right now, we’re trying to get better every day.”

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