BY MIKE MASTOVICH
Jason Spence is glad to be back on home ice tonight as his Johnstown Tomahawks continue a stretch that will have the NAHL team play at Cambria County War Memorial Arena only four times in 82 days.
Tomahawks fans will have an opportunity to see a lot of Spence during the 7:30 p.m. game against the Michigan Warriors.
In fact, 1,500 Jason Spence bobbleheads will be given away as a promotion recognizing the second-year Tomahawks coach, who also was a former Johnstown Chiefs fan favorite as a tough forward.
“It’s quite an honor,” said Spence, whose team brings a 22-17-2 record and is second in the North Division with 46 points. “At first I was kind of reserved about it. My friends, some of them think it’s funny that I’d have a bobblehead. Others said it’s cool and it’s an honor.”
While more frequent in recent years, bobblehead promotions are a somewhat rare occurrence in Johnstown.
The former ECHL Chiefs only had one bobblehead promotion in 22 seasons – defenseman Jeff Sullivan in March 2004. The Wheeling Nailers had a Dave Hanson mini-bobblehead giveaway honoring the former Johnstown Jets enforcer and “Slap Shot” Hanson brother during a December 2010 game played in Johnstown. Last season, the Tomahawks honored Steelers four-time Super Bowl winner and Pro Football Hall of Famer Jack Ham with a bobblehead giveaway on Jan. 31. Johnstown’s Ham is a minority owner of the Tomahawks.
“We’ve had a lot of calls and a lot of fans just telling us they were really interested in the bobblehead, and they are coming into this game specifically for the bobblehead,” said Chad Mearns, the Tomahawks director of marketing and communications. “The players got a big kick out of it when the bobbleheads came in.”
The Tomahawks’ off-ice team is putting on its figurative game face for the promotion.
“We anticipate a strong and enthusiastic demand for the bobbleheads,” Mearns said. “We’re only giving out 1,500 so we’re taking every measure possible to have those distributed in the most fair and orderly way as possible.”
Full season ticket holders are guaranteed to receive the bobblehead at the game, Mearns said.
The bobblehead features a likeness of Spence wearing his black Tomahawks practice attire, with black gloves. He holds a stick, and a whistle is wrapped around the coach’s neck. The Tomahawks’ logo is on his jacket.
“It’s a pretty close likeness,” Spence said.
Spence chuckled while explaining that the photograph he submitted to the company that produced the bobblehead was shot after he and his wife, Marcey, returned from a Caribbean vacation.
“When I got the pictures taken we had just got back from Jamaica,” Spence said. “I don’t get out to see the sun a whole lot. But in those pictures I was pretty tan in all of them, and the bobblehead reflects that too.”
Of course, the Tomahawks have important business on the ice, too.
Johnstown is 8-7 in its past 15 games after splitting a pair at Port Huron last weekend. The two-game set ended with a lopsided 5-0 loss to the Fighting Falcons.
“It’s super important to get back home,” said Tomahawks defenseman Mitch Hall, who ranks third on the team with 29 points, including four goals “It’s nice to get back in front of our fans. They’re always helping us out when things are tough. They always have our back. Hopefully we can put on a few good games for them.
“Our chemistry is great. We’re battling through a few injuries. This week we’re going to definitely turn it around.”
Third-place Michigan is 18-12-8, with 44 points, only two behind Johnstown.
The Tomahawks beat the Warriors twice when the teams met during the most recent homestand on Dec. 30 (3-2 in a shootout) and New Year’s Eve (4-1).
“We’ve had a great week of practice. We’ve been working on chemistry,” Spence said. “I’m really happy with what we’ve got right now.”
Mike Mastovich is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/masty81.
BY MIKE MASTOVICH
Richland's Pecora is one of two local wrestlers in state finals
It has never been easy for Nico Pecora to just be himself on the wrestling mat.
He’s always been the son of legendary Pitt-Johnstown coach Pat Pecora. And the younger brother of standout Marco Pecora.
- State wrestling notebook: Gill leads local contingent in consolations
Bishop Carroll boys continue in playoffs
Bishop Carroll trailed just once on Friday in its PIAA Class A first-round contest against Clarion-Limestone at Richland High School.
After that early 3-0 deficit, the Huskies never looked back rolling to a dominating 81-42 victory over the Lions.
North Catholic rolls over Berlin in Class A
Berlin Brothersvalley had a hot start and an uptempo finish in the PIAA Class A boys’ basketball playoffs on Friday night at Pitt-Johnstown.
But Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic rode 6-foot-9 senior center Dominic Robb inside, and used an 11-0 spurt to open the third quarter to pull away in a 56-44 victory at the Sports Center.
Somerset eliminated from Class AAA tourney
Lancaster Mennonite unleashed its offensive arsenal against Somerset on Friday night in first-round PIAA Class AAA basketball tournament action at Richland High School.
The second and fourth quarters were the downfall for the Golden Eagles who fell behind in the second and could never quite get back on track, falling 70-44.
Richland rolling forward
Richland High’s boys’ basketball team made history last weekend. Now, the Rams want to add a few more details to this memorable story.
Coach Greg Burke’s team won the program’s first District 6 boys’ basketball title since 1975 in convincing fashion over Central on March 1.
Tomahawks lose shutout
The adage – as Johnstown Tomahawks coach Jason Spence affirmed after his squad’s 2-0 loss to the Janesville Jets on Friday at Cambria County War Memorial Arena – is that you can’t win if you don’t score.
While the Tomahawks came up short on the scoreboard, they weren’t short on chances.
McCutchen leads Pirates offense in loss to Twins
Andrew McCutchen homered, doubled and singled Friday for the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 6-5 loss to the Minnesota Twins.
McCutchen went 3 for 3, scored twice and drove in two runs. The reigning NL MVP is 8 for 11 in four games this spring.
Richland wrestler reaches PIAA title match
Nico Pecora gave the area its second state finalist at the PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships tonight.
Bedford wrestler reaches state championship match
Bedford will have a state finalist for the second consecutive season, but it will not be the same one.
- More Sports Headlines
- Richland's Pecora is one of two local wrestlers in state finals