The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

January 22, 2013

Spence, 5 players picked for prospects’ event

JOHNSTOWN — The Johnstown Tomahawks have made an impact as a first-year NAHL team.

The Tier II Junior A league has noticed.

Five Tomahawks will play in the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament on Feb. 18-20  in Troy, Mich. Johnstown coach Jason Spence has been named co-coach of the 18U Selects team.

“These guys are going to get a chance to play in front of a lot of scouts, and it’s really good for our program,” Spence said after Tuesday’s announcement. “I was honored to be chosen as a coach of the young prospects team.”

Tomahawks forwards Andrew McDonald, Cody Gylling, captain Mitch Kontny and defenseman Casey Nelson were named to the Great Lakes roster in the Top Prospects Tournament. JB Baker was named to the NAHL 18U Selects team, where he’ll play for Spence and Brookings Blizzard coach Cory Laylin.

The NAHL Top Prospects Tournament at-tracted more than 160 scouts from college and professional teams last year. Nearly every NHL organization and most NCAA Division I programs had representatives in 2012.

More than one third of the players in that tournament eventually landed a NCAA Division I opportunity.

“It’s a great honor for our players and for coach Spence getting recognized in his first season in the league,” Tomahawks President Rick Bouchard said.

The Tomahawks’ solid representation in the event illustrates the strides the Johnstown organization has made in its first season.

Spence’s fourth-place Tomahawks are 19-13-9 with 47 points in the North Division entering Friday and Saturday games against Soo in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

“What it means for the players and our organization is that we are being recognized in the league,” Bouchard said. ”Coach Spence is getting recognized. For the players, 160 scouts will be there from Division I and the pros. Obviously it’s an opportunity for them to be noticed and move on to the Division I level, which is what we’re trying to do, further our players careers and get them scholarships.”

Spence believes his players will represent the city well:

• Andrew McDonald (10 goals, 20 points, 26 games) “is a very smart player. He has a lot of speed. He creates scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates,” Spence said. “He’s also a great guy in the locker room.”

• Cody Gylling (nine goals,

28 points, 40 games) “is a very offensive-minded player and he has breakaway speed,” Spence said. “He’s a real smooth skater but he has a real deceptive shot. It’s really quick and very heavy. He can score from just about anywhere.”

• Mitch Kontny (16 goals, 25 points, 41 games) “is a guy that you want on the ice in the last minute of the game, whether you are up a goal or down a goal,” Spence said. “He’s that guy you want in every situation. He also has a real quick release and a heavy shot.”

• Casey Nelson (eight goals,

24 points, 41 games) “has got great speed and he’s very good at bringing the puck up the ice,” Spence said. “He’s got a really good shot off the wall in the offensive zone. He’s got an eye for the net. He can also dish out big hits.”

• JB Baker (four goals, 11 points,

40 games) turned 18 on Jan. 16 and “is one of our team’s fastest players,” Spence said. “He’s fearless. He’s great on the forecheck. He’s very physical. He throws every bit of weight around that he has. He creates turnovers and opens up a lot of space for other players.”

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