The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Tomahawks

September 30, 2012

History repeats for Boyd family

JOHNSTOWN — Throughout most of his 18 years, Cody Boyd had heard his father talk about that memorable January night in 1988.

Rick Boyd was among the original Johnstown Chiefs, a rough-and-tumble group organized in the middle of the All-American Hockey League season that year.

Those first Chiefs were heroes and celebrities in Johnstown. They set the foundation for the franchise’s 22-season run in the ECHL.

Rick Boyd’s account of that first Chiefs game at Cambria County War Memorial has been told and written about many times.

The former Chiefs captain and his teammates couldn’t believe the response and devotion Johnstown hockey fans gave this hastily assembled team. Rick Boyd fell in love with the city, married a Johnstown girl and raised a family here.

Nearly a quarter century later, Cody Boyd had a chance to repeat family history.

The Johnstown native is part of the Johnstown Tomahawks NAHL Junior A Tier II team that debuted on home ice Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd of 3,721.

Like his dad, Cody Boyd was overwhelmed by the turnout and response of the hockey-starved fans who now have a team of their own for the first time since the Chiefs moved to South Carolina in 2010.

“He built it up pretty big and it was bigger,” Cody Boyd said of the experience of sprinting though the tunnel and skating onto the ice for the first time in front of the Tomahawks fans.

“I couldn’t stand. I was so nervous, I was walking around in the locker room trying to kill time. Butterflies in my stomach. When I finally hit the ice and heard all the fans, it was the greatest feeling I could ever have.”

The Tomahawks gave the crowd plenty to cheer about, but eventually lost 3-2 in an overtime shootout.

“It was one of a kind,” Cody Boyd said. “You’ll never get that in another rink, playing in front of all the people back home. It was great, 4,000 people screaming, it was great.”

The whole day was a celebration.

Perhaps appropriately, a construction crew worked on the Napoleon Street Bridge replacement project late Saturday afternoon.

Workers operated heavy machinery and cement moved up a chute and onto the the new portion of the bridge. Half a block away, a different type of heavy metal could be heard as the band “Day Well Spent” played outside the War Memorial Arena.

Hundreds of people gathered for HockeyFest in conjunction with the home opener.

“To go out there before the game and see 2,000 people on the sidewalk was fantastic,” Tomahawks coach Jason Spence said.

Saturday almost represented a hockey bridge from the pro game and the Chiefs to the junior game and the Tomahawks.

Many former Chiefs fans and season ticket holders reunited on Napoleon Street. Former Chiefs and NHL equipment manager Mic Midderhoff stopped by, and former Chiefs President Jim Edwards Sr. was there.

The big blue bird Chopper – the Tomahawks’ mascot – schmoozed with mascots Mister Froggy and a Subway sandwich.

People wearing Tomahawks attire joined those in Chiefs and Penguins jerseys. Some wore No. 66  in honor of Penguins Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux, who dropped the ceremonial first puck.

“(Lemieux) came in and said some words to us before the game, which was pretty cool,” said Tomahawks forward Brandon Reinholz, who scored a goal and a knockout punch during a fight with Michigan’s Garrett Procahazk. “He just said to go out there and have fun and good luck.”

Once on the ice, the players and fans witnessed one of the most spectacular pyrotechnic events in War Memorial history, with fireworks, explosions, smoke and flames filling all ends of the arena.

“Our staff did a good job of preparing us so we did a dress rehearsal after a practice,” Spence said. “Everybody was ready for it but I don’t think anybody was expecting something that spectacular.

“With the fireworks and everything it was like the NHL. Fantastic.”

The Tomahawks didn’t win the game, but they took a big step toward winning the heart of a city.

Mike Mastovich is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Tomahawks
  • Intense camp ends for Tomahawks

    July 28, 2014

  • Tomahawks Camp - Eckenrod Local players in camp with Tomahawks

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mike Letizia Tomahawks hand reins to former assistant

    Introductions? Orientations? Neither was necessary when the Johnstown Tomahawks named their new head coach on Tuesday morning.
    The new guy in charge handled the job for the past month and has been part of the organization since the North American Hockey League team moved to Johnstown in 2012.

    June 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • NAHL coming to Connellsville

    The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced that the Port Huron Fighting Falcons are reactivating and relocating their membership to Connellsville.
    The team will be renamed the Keystone Ice Miners and will start play next season.

    May 10, 2014

  • spence Tomahawks decide not to renew coach’s contract

    Rick Boyd didn’t look forward to his conversation with Jason Spence on Monday.
    The Johnstown Tomahawks general manager and the NAHL organization had made a difficult and potentially unpopular decision to not renew Spence’s contract as the Tomahawks coach.

    April 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Spence, Jason Tomahawks won't renew Spence's contract

    The Johnstown Tomahawks will not renew head coach Jason Spence’s contract for the 2014-15 NAHL season, the team announced on Tuesday.

    April 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • ‘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

Poll

What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
Order Photos


Photo Slideshow

House Ads