The hockey season took on a familiar tone for Brandon Reinholz and Mitch Hall this week.
When the Johnstown Tomahawks traded for Hall on Wednesday it reunited the St. Cloud, Minn., Connection for an 11th straight season.
Reinholz has been a mainstay at forward for the NAHL’s Tomahawks since the season’s outset. A defenseman, Hall began the year with the Jamestown Ironmen, but was acquired in exchange for a future draft pick.
“We’ve been on the same team now 11 consecutive years,” Hall said after making his Johnstown debut on Friday night against visiting Port Huron. “We’ve been pretty much doing everything together since we were 7. It’s sweet being together again.”
The two players got their start like many other youth skaters. They played on the same team under the supervision of their fathers. Year after year since then, they’ve been teammates.
“We know how to get under each other’s skins to get the best out of each other,” Hall said. “We played squirts, pee wees, bantams, all three years of high school, last year of juniors and now this year.”
Reinholz has 14 goals, 21 points and 74 penalty minutes in 31 games with the fourth-place Tomahawks. He scored the first Tomahawks’ goal at Cambria County War Memorial Arena against Michigan in the home opener and later won over the fans by getting into a fight during the Sept. 29 game.
Hall rated a plus-1 in his first game, a 3-2 shootout loss. He had a goal, three points and a plus-6 in 22 games with Jamestown.
“It’s been great to play with him my whole life,” Reinholz said. “He’s a good friend. When I heard he was coming here, I was excited.
“He’s solid in the defensive zone and he’s also an offensive defenseman. He’s got good hands. He’ll fit in very well. He’ll be another solid defenseman back there. You can never have too many of those.”
Tomahawks coach Jason Spence is hoping his team finds a spark through a series of moves General Manager Rick Boyd made this week. Johnstown is on an 0-3-3 streak after Saturday’s home loss against Port Huron. The ’Hawks host Soo at 1 p.m. today.
In addition to the Hall trade, the Tomahawks dealt for Westmont Hilltop product Corey Schafer, sending defenseman Kristaps Bazevics to Wichita Falls for the 18-year-old forward. Johnstown also added Dakoda Menslage, a 6-foot-3 defenseman temporarily called up from the North American Tier III Hockey League’s Granite City Lumberjacks.
Spence appreciated the bond between Hall and Reinholz.
“It does help for team camaraderie,” Spence said. “You know that guy’s got your back.
“Hall has good hands, makes a good first pass and he’s a good player. He’ll get acclimated a little more to learn our systems. Reinholz has been solid. He works hard and battles. Guys like that get rewarded.”
Reinholz said the familiarity has helped him and Hall throughout their careers. Each player will turn 20 over the next few weeks.
“Minnesota Central, about an hour North of the cities,” Reinholz said, pointing to the duo’s hometown roots. “We started playing. Our dads were coaches. We always hung out together through high school and into juniors.
“We know how to push each other’s buttons at the right time and it keeps each other going in a good way.”
Hall isn’t surprised that Reinholz has emerged as a leader in Johnstown.
“I like how he’s a hard-nosed grinder,” Hall said. “He just works his egg off every time he gets out there. He’s relentless.”
It didn’t take Hall very long to adapt to his new home at Cambria County War Memorial Arena.
“I came down here once for a series and really liked the facilities,” Hall said, referring to an earlier visit while playing for Jamestown. “When I actually heard about it, I was excited about the opportunity. I just want to come down here and work hard.”