The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Tomahawks

February 13, 2014

Cuckovich happy to return to Tomahawks blue line

Shane Cuckovich finally returned to the Johnstown Tomahawks lineup, then he and his teammates had a weekend off.

Ironic, eh?

Cuckovich had been away from the ice for 26 days when he rejoined the Hawks for a two-game set at first-place Port Huron on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. The 19-year-old defenseman helped Johnstown earn three of a possible four points. But another quirk in an already quirky schedule had the third-place Tomahawks idle last weekend.

“It was pretty tough having to sit in the stands and not being able to go on the trips with the guys,” said Cuckovich of his idle time that resulted from a concussion suffered Jan. 5 at Soo. “I had to stay home while they were away (on road trips), but it was definitely needed. I’m just happy to be back with the guys and playing again and working out and being healthy.”

Tomahawks coach Jason Spence is happy, too.

The Tomahawks spent much of January with only four healthy defenseman on the roster.

Cuckovich’s presence and the expected return of defenseman Logan Hudson for tonight’s home game against the surging Michigan Warriors is cause for a minor celebration at Cambria County War Memorial Arena.

“It’s big. We were playing with four defensemen,” Spence said on Thursday. “Sometimes we had five. It’s just been really tough.”

Having a four- or five-man rotation means more ice time and less recovery time for the blueline corps.

“They’ve been playing well but you always have that concern that you have to conserve energy,” Spence said. “I’ve got them right back out there the next shift. Now they can play their game and go hard. They’re in good shape and they can play that way but it’s nice to have six players on defense.”

Cuckovich and Hudson join defensemen Mitch Hall, Cody Bentzel, Dakoda Menslage and Brady Bender.

“We’re all really a fun group of guys who always are working hard,” said Cuckovich, a 6-foot-1, 195-pounder with three goals, six points and plus-5 in 33 games. “That makes us a real solid group of defensemen.”

Cuckovich missed being a part of the gang on the ice, but knew better than to gamble with his health.

“I just did everything the doctor said,” Cuckovich said. “It’s not something I want to mess with. I’ve had concussion problems in the past. I wanted to be really cautious about it.”

He didn’t score a point at Port Huron, but was part of a 3-2 overtime loss and 4-2 win over the Fighting Falcons.

“Everything felt great,” Cuckovich said. “The first game, I was just getting my bearings back. The second game I felt I was back to where I needed to be. I still have some room to improve.”

The Tomahawks (23-19-3, 49 points) trail second-place Michigan (23-12-8, 54) by five points in the North Division. Port Huron still leads with 56 points.

Johnstown and Michigan have met in the Tomahawks four previous home games during a stretch that has Spence’s team away from home for much of a three-month span.

 Coach Moe Mantha’s Warriors have moved from a middle-of-the-pack team to a top contender during that same stretch.

“They’re consistent,” Spence said. “They pressure. Their power play has been really clicking as of late. We’ve got to make sure we play smart. We’ve got to play as hard as we always do and get after it.”

Cuckovich said discipline will be a key factor.

“Michigan’s toughness is what makes them tough to play against,” he said. “They’re real physical and they can easily drag you into stupid penalties or penalties you don’t want to take. That’s one of the things that’s killed us when we played them. We have to play our own game instead of playing their game.”

The Tomahawks should be ready to play. This will be their first game in nearly two weeks.

“We had the whole weekend off last weekend,” Spence said. “We were able to practice a bunch of things. We were able to heal up. We have all of our defensemen back healthy. It’s been a good week of preparation.”

The Tomahawks on the ice tonight and Saturday will be the same group Spence intends to lead into the NAHL postseason should Johnstown maintain its playoff position.

“The roster has been frozen,” Spence said of the Feb. 10 deadline. “We’ll have the same roster until the end of the year.”

Mike Mastovich is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/masty81.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Tomahawks
  • ‘Hawks already building toward next season

    Jason Spence used up his cell phone’s battery on a trip from Johnstown to his parents’ home in Nova Scotia, Canada.
    Once the Johnstown Tomahawks coach got to his destination, Spence had to get creative to secure cell service across the border.

    April 16, 2014

  • horizontal hawks Fighting Falcons win playoff series against Tomahawks

    The third period of Game 3 of the NAHL North Division semifinal served as a quick primer of the Johnstown Tomahawks’ playoff fortunes against top-seeded Port Huron.
    Trailing by two goals going into the third, the Tomahawks ramped up the intensity, producing a goal early and a multitude of chances at an equalizer until the game’s final moments when goaltender Max Milosek stopped Jordan Watt’s breakaway try as the Cambria County War Memorial Arena’s horn sounded.

    April 12, 2014 2 Photos

  • ’Hawks need a win to survive

    At the moment, it’s not about advancing through the postseason for the Johnstown Tomahawks. It’s simply a case of surviving to play another day.

    April 11, 2014

  • Falcons clip Tomahawks in overtime

    The Johnstown Tomahawks squandered a pair of two-goal leads and fell 4-3 in overtime to Port Huron in Game 2 of the North Division semifinals on Friday night.
    Johnstown trails the best-of-5 series 2-0 and will try to avoid elimination when the series moves to Cambria County War Memorial Arena on Friday.

    April 5, 2014

  • Tomahawks drop Game 1 on road

    The Johnstown Tomahawks came back from an early two-goal deficit, but Jon Hall scored a third period goal to give the Port Huron Fighting Falcons the 3-2 win in Game 1 of the best-of-5 North Division semi-finals on Thursday night at McMorran Arena.
    The Fighting Falcons struck first, as Bryce VanHorn scored 1:39 into the first period. Logan Lambdin earned an assist on the goal.

    April 4, 2014

  • tomahawks okicki Tomahawks set to open postseason on road

    The Johnstown Tomahawks open the Robertson Cup playoffs tonight at Port Huron hoping to reclaim the form that enabled the second-year team to move near the top of the NAHL North Division a mere six weeks ago.
    Standing in the way of fourth-seeded Johnstown is No. 1 Port Huron, a team that planted itself firmly atop the division and never relented.

    April 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • 'Hawks drop season finale at Janesville

    The Johnstown Tomahawks closed the NAHL regular season with a 4-1 loss to the Janesville Jets in front of 650 fans at Janesville Ice Arena on Saturday night.
    The Tomahawks had secured the North Division’s fourth and final playoff spot when Springfield lost at Soo on Friday night, so the game had no bearing on the playoff race.

    March 30, 2014

  • Tomahawks clinch berth in playoffs

    The Johnstown Tomahawks lost a 5-3 decision at Janesville on Friday, but clinched a NAHL playoff berth nonetheless because Soo defeated Springfield 2-1 earlier in the day.
    The Tomahawks began the weekend in fourth place, three points behind Janesville and three points ahead of fifth-place Springfield.

    March 29, 2014

  • Tomahawks’ playoff hopes hinge on next two games

    March 27, 2014

  • Eagles avoid sweep, nip Tomahawks

    The Johnstown Tomahawks battled back from a three-goal deficit in Sunday afternoon’s final regular-season home game against Soo, but a late third-period score by the Eagles sent the Tomahawks to a disappointing 4-3 loss.
    Soo (24-27-7) erupted for three unanswered goals in a six-minute span to open the second period before the Tomahawks (28-25-5) pulled within one heading into the third and subsequently tied it at 5:53 of the final period on a blast from inside the right circle by Matt Meier.

    March 23, 2014

Poll

Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
Order Photos


Photo Slideshow

House Ads