Corey Schafer grew up in Westmont and regularly attended Johnstown Chiefs games.
One of the players Schafer wanted to pattern his own game after is Jason Spence, who gained a loyal following of local fans for his tough-as-nails playing style as a member of the former ECHL franchise.
There’s no doubt that the former Chiefs player and current coach of the Johnstown Tomahawks came away impressed with Schafer after the former three-time MVP of the Hilltoppers’ varsity hockey team played his first two games with the NAHL franchise.
Schafer was acquired Thursday in a trade that sent defenseman Kristaps Bazevics to the Wichita Falls Wildcats.
Schafer started Saturday in a 4-2 loss to Port Huron and played a key role in Sunday’s 6-2 victory over Soo at Cambria County War Memorial Arena. Schafer picked up his first point on an assist of a Brandon Reinholz goal in the second period. He even came close to dropping the gloves a few seconds later before a linesman intervened.
“I didn’t really know Coach Spence before I got here except for watching him at the Chiefs games. I pretty much went to all the Chiefs games,” Schafer said. “I try to play like him, but I can’t fight like him.”
Schafer, however, can help the Tomahawks, which is why General Manager Rick Boyd targeted him as a trade prospect. Boyd previously worked with Schafer in the Amateur Penguins organization and continued to follow him as he scored 67 points in only 19 PIHL games in his final season at Westmont Hilltop.
He’s already impressing the Tomahawks.
“He started (Saturday) night and he deserved it,” Spence said. “When you come here and play in front of friends and family, there’s a lot of expectations, but he’s giving it his best effort. He played a great game (against Port Huron).”
Schafer tallied three assists in 19 games with Wichita Falls. Throughout his time with the Wildcats, he kept an eye on the hometown team.
“Being here is awesome. Getting to play junior hockey in my hometown is a dream come true,” said Schafer. “That first game back was really nerve wracking, but once it started, it became another hockey game.”